May 312013
There's a right way and a wrong way to carry a pistol in a purse. This shows a good solution.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to carry a pistol in a purse. This shows a good solution.

Accidental discharges – some people prefer to call them negligent discharges, because in truth, such events are almost always due to stupidity rather than random blameless accident – are invariably unfortunate and sometimes fatal.  They are particularly unfortunate when they happen to a person while carrying concealed, because the event provides valuable ammunition to gun control advocates as ‘proof’ that people can’t be trusted to safely carry firearms.

So you want to do all you can to ensure your concealed carry is as safe as possible – for your personal safety, for the safety of those around you, and as a responsible firearms owner keen to protect and preserve your rights.

Here’s an example of a woman who did not optimize her concealed carry.  We don’t know the exact details, but according to the report, she had a .25 caliber semi-auto inside ‘a small gun bag’ which in turn was inside her apparently capacious purse and she forgot it was there.  She dropped the purse, and that caused the pistol to discharge, and the round struck her friend (probably now her former friend!) in the leg.

There is one very important lesson from what we do know about this incident – make sure that none of your pistols are of a design, or in a state/condition where they can self-discharge if dropped.  These days all modern pistols have been designed so they can not are not likely to self-discharge when dropped, no matter how you drop them, or from how high.

To explain the strike-through text – there may sometimes be exceedingly rare combinations of situations that might cause a pistol, if dropped forcefully enough (ie from a sufficiently great height onto a hard surface) and if landing in exactly the right way to possibly have the force of the impact work the slide, perhaps causing a round to partially chamber and then be detonated by part of the slide mechanism.  But the chances of this happening are close to one in a million; maybe less, and for sure, if you’re dropping pistols from ‘only’ 6 ft or so, this would not happen.

Some old model pistols, without ‘transfer bars’ or ‘disconnectors’ could fire if they landed on their hammer, but those designs are largely a thing of the past now.  However, check with your local gun store or a respected gun expert to make sure that your pistols can not accidentally self discharge if dropped.

If they can do this, get rid of them.  You don’t want to end up less ‘fortunate’ than the woman in the story above (at least she didn’t accidentally shoot a lawyer’s kid!).

Maybe the woman’s pistol self discharged, or maybe the ‘small gun bag’ didn’t protect the pistol’s trigger and the drop caused something else in her purse to bump into the pistol and its trigger.

Which leads to a couple more things to consider.

First, always have your concealed pistol in some type of holster.  The holster should do several things.  The two most important are that it should hold the pistol securely in whatever location the pistol is intended to be, and that it protects the trigger area making it impossible for something to catch on the trigger and pull it.

If you have a soft nylon holster, it may not give adequate trigger protection.  And if you can see any part of the area inside the trigger guard – if any of that space is not covered by strong holster material – then toss the holster.  It is unsatisfactory and potentially unsafe.  Spend $50 – $100 on a proper holster – it is cheap insurance that might save your life or that of a lawyer’s kid, a friend, or anyone else.

Second, if you are keeping your pistol inside a handbag or other larger container, you must have some way to hold it securely in place and in position and to protect it from the effects of whatever else is in the handbag/purse/container.

You want it held securely in place and in position so you always know, when you put your hand inside the container, where your pistol will be and so you can ‘index’ your hand to your pistol, under stress, without looking and without fumbling.

You obviously want to keep other objects as far away from the pistol as possible to make it easy to reach the pistol and so other objects don’t interfere with your drawing and presenting the pistol when you need to.

Bags that are specifically designed for concealed carry have a dedicated compartment just for the pistol, or possibly for the pistol and a spare magazine or two, and will have a retention/protective/holster system for the pistol and also pouches to hold the spare magazines.

Choosing a good pistol is essential, but it is only one part of the chain of dependencies that come into play when you carry your pistol and if/when you ever need to present it ‘for real’.  Don’t be like so many people and, after spending a great deal of time researching your pistol choice, then treat the manner of its carry as an afterthought.  You should consider how to safely, comfortably, and conveniently carry your pistol just as much as you considered the pistol choice in the first place.

  2 Responses to “Holstering Safety Considerations When Carrying Concealed”

  1. Thanks – nicely done.

    I want to comment on the AD vs ND mentality. The bulk of all accidents are caused from human error – it doesn’t matter if we mash our finger driving a nail or cut ourselves with a knife. We have skiing accidents, vehicular accidents, mowing accidents, rock climbing accidents and on and on the list goes – yet nobody refers to these human caused incidents as ‘negligents’. The emergency room, the insurance provider call all these human caused incidents accidents.

    Even in an unintentional shooting, you WILL hear the police say, “No charges will be filed in the case because the shooting was ruled ACCIDENTAL.” You will never hear the police say, “No charges will be filed in the case because the shooting was ruled NEGLIGENT.”

    It’s interesting that we call all other human cause accidents, i.e. car accident, accidents, but when it comes to a gun accident, some think it’s some how different than all other accidents so it needs to be called negligent.

    Go to the NRA, CDC, DOJ, FBI and see how many negligent discharges are reported each year. I’ll save you some time and trouble – you won’t find any. That’s because all those agencies call human caused unintentional discharges ACCIDENTAL, not negligence. There’s a good reason for that – negligence is a chargeable offense, accidental is not.

    Negligence has to be proven by a court or some other authority such as OSHA. And if negligence is proven fines, etc. will be levied. Actually, negligence in legal terms means out of compliance. E.g. a company has a chemical stored improperly and OSHA discovers it – that’s immediately negligence even though nothing happened – no one got injured, no property damage, just non-compliance with an authority with the authority to levy fines, etc.

    It’s just really curious, human error causing a car mishap is an accident; human error causing an unintentional gun discharge is a negligent discharge??? Will charges of negligence be filed?

    It’s accidental – just like the police, insurance companies, the NRA, et al regard it.

    • Hi

      Thanks for your detailed and well written commentary.

      I’m not sure if we are ‘on the same side’ in this or not, so I’ll restate my position.

      You can call an ‘unintended’ discharge of a firearm whatever you like, and I also don’t care what you call unfortunate events with cars or anything else. But, whatever it is called, invariably an unintended discharge of a firearm can be traced back to an inappropriate act on the part of the bearer of the firearm, or, to paraphrase, an act of foolishness, stupidity, or negligence.

      Because a firearm has the ability to destroy lives – not just of people negligently/accidentally shot by them, but the lives of that person’s family, and also the life of the firearm bearer and his/her family too, we must hold ourselves to the highest possible standard of conduct whenever we are handling, carrying, or using them.

      And because there are so many groups out there just waiting for any opportunity to further restrict our firearms rights, and because any and every unintended discharge gives them more examples of how guns are dangerous and people can’t be trusted with them in public, not only do we have an obligation to our fellow gun owners to observe the highest standards of safety, we also have an obligation to gently encourage our fellow gun owners to do the same. 🙂

      Furthermore, if we do end up suffering an unintended discharge, we must not excuse the event without much thought and just say to ourselves (and the person we shot!) ‘Sorry, but, hey. Accidents happen.’ We need to learn from our mistake, from our mess-up, and both do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t happen to us again, and also share that with as many fellow firearm owners as we can.

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