In light of the recent tragic death of Veronica Rutledge in Idaho, I wanted to give some insight into the dangers of carrying concealed inside a purse. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, a 29-year-old mother was killed by her two-year-old at the store when he found her gun in her purse and pulled the trigger. You can read the whole story here.
This wasn’t a woman who didn’t know anything about guns. She was an avid shooter and 2nd amendment rights advocate. Normally she carried in a holster but had just received the concealed carry purse for Christmas from her husband. Those who have taken my concealed carry classes know that I strongly caution women who choose to carry in their purse, especially those with children. First, let’s talk about different types of carry. There are two basic kinds: “On-body carry” and “Off-body carry.”
On-body carry is any mode of carry where the pistol is attached to you. It could be a holster or fanny pack or even in your pocket. The big advantage here is you have direct control over the firearm.
Off-body carry is something you can place on a table and walk away from. Like a Franklin planner, briefcase, or a concealed carry purse. The advantage here is comfort. You don’t have a gun attached to your body and you can wear any clothing you like. You also don’t have to worry about concealment, for example, the wind blowing open your shirt.
For myself, I never carry off body. Primarily because I’m addle-brained and I know it. I used to carry a Franklin planner back in my corporate days. When walking out to the car after work I would always place the planner on the roof of the car while I unlocked the door. (This was before the day of FOBs.) One night I drove 30 miles home before taking a sharp turn and watching my Franklin Planner slide off the roof onto the road. I pulled over and then watched as several semi-trucks ran over it. I’ve never carried off-body, because I have a long history of setting things down and walking away from them. You have to be honest with yourself and know your limitations.
I know purse carry is very popular for women, because it’s just so easy. They already have the purse and they carry it around like a tool kit with everything needed for the day. My wife’s purse is a study in chaos. It’s large, disorganized, but has everything inside she could ever need. It’s like a mobile department store. We once lost one of our children inside her purse. (Not really.)
So, naturally, when she decided she wanted to carry her pistol inside her purse, I was a bit nervous. On the one hand, I wanted her to carry so she could protect herself and our kids. On the other hand, I’d been watching her walk away from her purse for years. She sometimes leaves it in the shopping cart with small children. So I compromised with her and purchased a two-hundred dollar concealed carry purse. It had a holster inside a secret compartment in the back with a lockable zipper. However, I saw the lockable zipper as something with little practical value. The key was so small you could barely use it. And once locked the gun was inaccessible for personal defense.
Once Sara started using the purse, I watched her habits and noticed that sometimes she forgot to take out the gun and put it in the safe when she got home. I always did it for her, but I saw it as a real danger to our kids. We had several discussions about it, and Sara eventually abandoned the idea of purse carry and went to a level 2 retention holster on her hip. She didn’t like this because it limited her wardrobe choices and she wasn’t used to the feel of the extra bulk on her hip. But she did it for the safety of our kids.
There is an excellent book out called “The Cornered Cat: A Woman’s Guide to Concealed Carry.” It’s written by Kathy Jackson and is fast becoming the classic resource for gun-toting women. It’s available in paperback, kindle or audiobook. Check out Kathy’s website at www.corneredcat.com. Kathy talks about a wide range of options for women as far as how to carry. I highly recommend this book.
Here’s my caution to women who carry guns in their purses.
- Always lock your gun and purse in the gun safe when it’s not being carried by you.
- Never leave your purse unattended even for a second.
- Assume your kids will get into your purse. It’s like a Pandora’s toy box to them. They can’t resist it.
- There is no such thing as child-proof or child-safe.
- Purse snatchers steal purses sometimes violently and without warning.
In the end you will decide on your own how to carry your gun, but you will live or die based on decisions you make. Your children will also live or die based on decisions you make. When it comes to concealed carry, even the smallest, most mundane decisions can take an innocent life.
Please be careful. Carry safe and carry often.