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By James England via concealednation.org

A lot of people – not just women – bring their concealed carry firearm along in a bag. It’s become so common, Mississippi has decided to rule it’s not even considered a concealed firearm. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous even if done properly. That’s just the honest truth. A purse isn’t attached to you. And if it gets snatched up by an attacker, you are S.O.L. What if it’s your only option? What if there is no conceivable other way for you to keep a firearm on your person? . . .

Let’s take a blunt look at some case anecdotes.  What’s an anecdote?  It’s a story.  In these cases – they’re all true.  We’ll also discuss some advice from Carrie Lightfoot of the Well Armed Woman.  And at the end, you decide (and tell us!) can purse carry be done properly as a holster option?

Case #1: Purses Can Be Forcibly Taken From You With Little Effort

In the event you’re suddenly accosted, your primary concern switches from your safety to the safety of your bag. Because now the thief can take more than just your money from it – he can take your life.

Example: An off-duty NYPD officer gets her bag snatched by a thief in a parking garage. She’s beaten mercilessly until he gets it free from her hands.  When he looks inside?  Surprise!  He’s won himself his very own semi-automatic pistol.

Surveillance video clearly shows her struggling to keep hold of the purse while the thief is smashing her face with his fists. She’s more concerned with keeping that purse than she is with defending herself. That’s why purse carry isn’t a good option. Would an inside the waistband holster have saved her? Probably not in this case. When your attacker is already on top of you – it becomes a hand-to-hand combat situation.  At that point, all bets are off. All bets.

What Carrie Says:

“Women who are interested in keeping their purse secure should select a purse with reinforced steel straps.

Also, I recommend that you carry cross body because it’s a lot harder to pull the purse away or maneuver it out of your reach.

Lastly, I always consult women to take concealed carry purse training classes and some defensive hand-to-hand as a way to counter close quarters attackers.”

Case #2: The Wrong People Can Get Your Gun Out Of Your Purse

Your purse isn’t a gun safe. It’s not a holster. It can be equipped with a holster. It should be equipped with a purse holster if that’s the option you’ve chosen to go with.

And the biggest problem is when someone gets into that purse without you knowing about it – now they have your gun.

Example: A 2 year old got into his mother’s purse while she was shopping at Walmart and fatally shot her at point blank range.

Like with ANY concealed carry method – purse carry requires situational awareness at all times. All times. No exceptions.

A gun in a purse that isn’t making contact with you, isn’t secured to your body. That means if you’re distracted (and we all get distracted), you’re not in physical control of your firearm.

What Carrie Says:

Keep your purse on your body all of the time – cross body preferred.  If this mother had done just this – it wouldn’t have happened.

Also, keep your purse out of reach of any unauthorized person.  If you can’t ensure it’s secured to your body, lock it in a file cabinet at work (as a last resort) or ideally a gun safe.  Put your gun on your body when you get home and change your clothes or put it in a safe when you get home or to office.

Lastly, consider getting a concealed carry pack – like a fanny pack – a purse that attaches to the body.”

Example: A 3 year old fatally shot both of his parents when he pulled his mother’s pistol out of her purse.

Most people react when touched by strangers. A purse isn’t nearly as sensitive. But above both of these things: complacency kills.

What Carrie Says:

“All concealed carry requires changes to lifestyle.  This is especially true when dealing with children.  That’s why it’s important to have a secure compartment within your purse and always make sure the purse is slung cross-body and stays in contact with you at all times.

Treat your concealed carry purse like you would a newborn baby.  It is as a always with you, always in your sight and never unattended.”

Counter-Point:  People Lose Firearms From Holsters

In one recent example, an off-duty San Diego deputy dropped his concealed carry pistol on an airsoft pistol course. When a 10 year old correctly identified that, indeed, he was looking at a live pistol laying on the course, he attempted to return it to a range control officer. That’s when it negligently discharged in his hand. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the pistol was secured.

Heck, an Orange County deputy lost an assortment of firearms to two car burglars.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a purse, a car, or a holster – complacency is the leading cause of lost and stolen firearms. We get too used to our environment and we just assume every day will be like the last.

The ATF estimated close to 190,000 firearms went missing or stolen in 2012. When a concealed carrier willingly or unwittingly allows his or her firearm to go missing – due to theft or otherwise – he or she is putting the whole community at risk.

The final takeaway is that a purse is less secure than a high-retention inside or outside the waistband holster but it’s not the culprit for these cases – it’s the person who loses control of the firearm.

What If Purse Carry Is My Only Option?

Of course we want people to carry, and purse carry (or bag carry or suitcase carry) may be the only method for them at a certain time. The stress point is this: if you can carry by using another method, such as IWB, do that. But whatever you do – don’t become dependant on complacency – ever.

You can get your purse snatched and you can get your firearm snatched from your holster. It’s possible. What reduces that possibility from happening is situational awareness.

Do you think purse carry can be a responsible option for carrying a concealed firearm? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!

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24 Responses to Purse Carry – Safe Enough?

  1. This is my wife’s preferred method. She has several Gun Tote’n Mamas purses with dedicated Velcro retained holsters. The hardware and straps are reinforced.

  2. I think a bag or purse is good for a backup, recent case where a woman was being robbed, ostensibly reached inside her purse to give the thief money and instead gave him an unpleasant surprise. Probably won’t work with a clean and sober bad guy, but it’s worth a shot. Er, no pun intended, lol.

  3. “When a concealed carrier willingly or unwittingly allows his or her firearm to go missing – due to theft or otherwise – he or she is putting the whole community at risk.”

    Right. Because it’s the guns that are the problem, not the criminals, right? Because criminals would otherwise have great difficulty acquiring guns, right? Because someone who unwittingly allows his gun to be stolen is the problem, just like the gun store that unwittingly sells to a straw buyer. They’re the problem. Right?

    That sounds like a statement cut and pasted from the gun grabbers’ web site. I take great care to keep my guns secure. I don’t want them stolen and used to hurt innocent people. But put the blame where it belongs. The people putting the whole community at risk are the thugs that steal guns.

    • If somebody steals my car, obviously it’s the thief’s fault – but if they stole the car while I left it with the keys in the ignition and the engine running while I stopped inside a 7-11 got distracted trying to decide what numbers to pick for the Powerball, well, just a teensy bit falls on my shoulders.

      Carrying a gun is your right, but it comes with a long list of responsibilities. You can’t have one without the other, and securing your weapon is a pretty fundamental part of it.

  4. “What if purse carry is my only option”
    It’s NOT your only option! Unless you are bathing on a “nude” beach!

    I carry a small NAA 22 magnum revolver 24/7, even when I’m packing my 9MM.
    These guns are very small, (Even smaller if not the magnum)
    You can even conceal them in a fake bandage on your arm if needed. Some women carry them on a lanyard, around their neck. I’m sure there is a place on your body to carry one of these little guns.

    Also, these guns have a very short barrel, and make a loud bang, with a large fireball (22 mag.) and if the bullet doesn’t stop the attacker, the fireball will singe all the hair off his head!

    • As a guy I laugh at all the people trying to bash purse carry like it’s the coming of the anti-christ yet defending glock’s failure to implement a safety as if glocks are the second coming of Jesus.

      The disadvantages of purse carry are only applicable if one is not qualified to carry. That is most “purse carry negligent discharges” are actually “negligent storage” as in the owner decided to store their purse off their persons with a gun still in it in a bad location which is the same as if i had a gun in a holster took the holster off threw it somewhere stupid and then got blamed for on body carry when it went off.

      The problem to a purse of you can get punched in the head knocked out and have it stolen. Oh because someone couldn’t punch me out with a gun on me from behind and still steal all my stuff? Are you people serious with your arguments?

      I wouldn’t argue that purse carrying would be any worse or any better than the alternative, it’s just different which means you need to worry about the same problems still in alternate situations. Your gun can get stolen from you in both instances and neither is less secure if done correctly. Any lack of security is due to improper practice and your only argument there would be that purse carrying requires a higher amount of training that most people don’t commit to, which isn’t an issue of purse carrying, but one of user freaking error.

      • I thought of the place that Ms. Archer used, but did not want to suggest something as bazaar as that!
        Don’t belittle the 5 shot NAA revolver! These little guns, when used in an “In your face” consultation, can rearrange your life style!
        I would not suggest a 22 for self defense, but we are talking here about places to conceal guns, and for women, that can be a real problem at times. A 22 is better than nothing!

        • A .22 is definitely better than nothing, though I wonder how likely it is for someone in the middle of a fight-or-flight adrenaline dump to be able to deploy and manipulate a microscopic single-action revolver effectively. I’ve got one of those NAA revolvers, and I love the little thing. I even sometimes carry it, and I don’t worry at all that it’s just a .22. I do worry that it’s a pretty tricky gun to grip, draw, cock the hammer, aim, and fire under life-or-death stress, though. There’s a whole lot of fine motor skill in that process, much more than just squeezing off a few rounds from a snubnose revolver or compact semi-auto.

          As Curtis said, is the tradeoff of eliminating the perceived risks of purse carry worth downgrading your defensive capability to what is unarguably a less-effective, more difficult to use firearm? I don’t carry a purse, so I’m not qualified to answer that, but I personally wouldn’t judge a woman too harshly if she chose the purse, as long as she goes about it responsibly.

  5. That purse carry is to be disparaged is a proposition with which I agree. Nevertheless, it might be the least-bad alternative available to someone.

    That a BG might get your gun and use it against you is a proposition I discount. If you are disabled (e.g., have been cornered or thrown to the ground) you are in a very bad situation; that it’s worse if the perp has your gun isn’t an overwhelmingly worse proposition.

    That a BG might discover he has stolen your gun as well as your wallet is an undesirable proposition. However, it’s no worse than if he steals a gun in any other circumstances.

    That a child might get into your purse is a serious consideration. A purse carrier is probably habituated to taking care of where her purse is all the time. However, that doesn’t rule-out leaving a child and purse in a shopping cart or leaving a purse on a table in the home. Switching to an OC belt holster in the home seems to be the cure to that problem.

    It occurs to me to recommend carrying a SA semi-automatic in Condition 2. It’s my practice to pocket-carry a .380 in Condition 2. It’s drop-safe in Condition 2 (confirmed by the manufacturer). A child or BG would need to perform 3 distinct operations to fire a SA in Condition 2:
    – cock hammer
    – turn safety off
    – pull trigger
    While possible, the more operations the less likely a child or BG would complete all 3 steps. A BG is probably unfamiliar with carrying in Condition 2; therefore, in the heat of battle he might not think that he needs to cock the hammer as well as turn the safety off.

    I grant 2 disadvantages to Condition 2:
    – you have to train to cock the hammer (comes naturally to me from childhood)
    – you have to be very careful to lower the hammer safely after loading.

  6. I carry in a bag due to prohibitions on carry at my workplace. I don’t like it, and it’s certainly not optimal, but it’s darn better than not at all despite what people tend to espouse.

  7. Sooo… how many people have accidentaly shot themselves while carrying iwb/owb? Youtube is full of videos showing people shootjng themselves while drawing. Given the frequency of this occurence, shouldn’t we discourage on-body carry?
    Honestly people, bashing my choice to carry in a bag off-body is getting to be quite tiring. Hate Glocks/9mm/revolvers/non-American etc etc? TOUGH!
    Don’t go on your high horse spouting crap from Bloomberg as a means to make YOUR WAY the same as THE ONLY WAY. I like carrying in a satchel, and i train with it. Don’t paint me as ignorant and careless as you. Projection much?

  8. Lots of good comments here, and the recommendations of Carrie Lightfoot are sound. What has not been addressed are the primary reasons for purse carry. I know for a fact that some women find it difficult to conceal or comfortably carry even a small gun on their person, especially in warm or humid weather. A purse is something most women always have with them, regardless of the weather or clothing challenges. There are pros and cons to any type of firearm, ammunition, or carry method . Rather than chastising someone for their choices, I prefer to council them on how best to take advantage of their situation while mitigating their disadvantages.

  9. Hey, this says that three-year-old fatally shot both his parents, but I clicked the link and both parents survived. It went through the father’s glute and the mother’s arm, both recovered. The boy, his sister, the 8-month-pregnancy, and both parents all survived.

    Let’s not report the wrong stuff.

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