I have been getting a lot of questions from people about some alternative methods of carrying a firearm concealed. The questions were specifically about carrying a firearm in a purse, backpack, or fanny pack. While on the surface this may seem more convenient as this type of carry method does not rely on any alteration to preferred clothing, there are some very real drawbacks that should be considered.
The first drawback that I would like to address is probably the most common issue with off-body carry, and that is losing direct control over your firearm. Life gets hectic and we can become lost in our own thoughts throughout our daily activities. This can make us more prone to accidentally forgetting our belongings at some point throughout the day. Most of us could probably think back to a case where we did just that, and it probably wasn’t too long ago. Purses get left in restaurant booths or public bathrooms, backpacks get left in vehicles unattended, and so on and so forth.
Another aspect that needs to be considered is the fact that when we get to a place we feel comfortable like a friend’s house or our own homes, we like to ditch the purse or backpack because we don’t want to carry it. Just because we are in a place where we are comfortable does not necessarily mean that a firearm is OK to be left unattended. If we get to a friend’s house for a BBQ and we immediately set the purse or the backpack down without regard to our surroundings, and a kid gets a hold of our unattended firearm and has a negligent discharge we could absolutely be held liable. It takes a level of situational awareness and self-discipline to be able to carry off-body without disregarding safety.
The last thought for off body carry is probably the biggest draw back in my opinion. When we carry a firearm for personal protection, that firearm exists for that simple purpose. If we are confronted with a potentially deadly situation, drawing from a purse or backpack is not usually the fastest method. The other problem I have with this type of concealed carry is that if someone is going to try to take something from you, more often than not, the object that they are going to try to take will be your purse or your backpack because that’s where you keep valuable things. If someone is trying to fight you for your purse or your backpack and has a weapon, are you going to be able to effectively draw your firearm during that struggle? Secondly, if they manage to get that purse or backpack from you, you have now given them direct control of your firearm and it could subsequently be used against you.
I highly recommend carrying on your person as opposed to off-body carry; however, if you are going to carry off-body, I have some recommendations that could help mitigate some of these circumstances. When carrying in a purse, it is advisable to have the firearm in a designated pocket of the purse and to have nothing else occupying that pocket other than the firearm. It would also be a wise idea to always use the same pocket of the purse for the firearm and practice drawing the firearm from the purse. I also highly recommend that if you are carrying in a purse that you do not sling the purse over the same shoulder as the side of the body you are carrying on. Instead use the cross-over method and have the purse slung over the other shoulder as this will make it harder for someone to take the purse from you. The same advice goes for backpacks, keep the firearm in a specified pocket and always use both shoulder straps to help keep positive control of the backpack.