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To date, TTAG has posted some 23k posts. In that time, we’ve attempted not to repeat ourselves. Of course, we have. The anti-gunners keep trotting-out the same reasons to infringe on your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. We keep shooting them down. Much of our self-defense advice – including our ever-expanding Guns for Beginners posts – covers familiar ground, starting with the four rules of gun safety. I, personally, have railed against off-body carry for years. Without apology, understanding the importance of this topic, I’m going to do so again here, inspired by this tragic tale [via] . . .

Police said the 3-year-old boy fatally shot in a Hamilton home was playing with a gun he had found in his mom’s purse when he shot himself.

Police said the 3-year-old who was shot in Hamilton has died.

The toddler, identified as Marques Green, shot himself in the chest just after 3:45 p.m. Thursday in the home located in the 700 block of Gordon Smith Boulevard, police said.

Neighbors tell WLWT the victim lived with his mom and 10-year-old brother.

Police said the gun belongs to the boy’s mother and the boy had removed the weapon from her purse. He was playing with it when it fired.

In the 911 call the boy’s mother made, she told the dispatcher they had just returned home and she put her purse down and was in the kitchen when the shooting happened.

My son just shot himself and I’m not getting a pulse,” she said, later telling the dispatcher, “His eyes are open, but he’s out.”

Police said the child was taken to Fort Hamilton Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

I was witness to the immediate aftermath of a teenager who shot himself in the head. I cried. Why wouldn’t I? The loss of life was horrible to see, horrible to contemplate. Especially the family’s grief. The endless “what ifs” will plague them until they draw their last breath – just as his unseeing eyes will haunt me until mine.

It was not my first rodeo. I hope it will be my last. More than that, I hope that you will heed these words: do NOT off-body carry.

I know there are members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia who will counsel you otherwise, claiming that off-body carry is sometimes an armed American’s only option. It isn’t. I also know that making this declaration will alienate some of TTAG’s advertisers; there is an off-body carry industry catering to those who wish to do so, offering them clever ways to carry concealed.

But I could not sleep at night if I didn’t do what I can to prevent the kind of tragedy described above. Not to mention the fact that a gun carried off-body can be more easily stolen and used for nefarious purposes. If you want to carry a gun, find a way to carry on-body. Inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, pocket carry, appendix carry in a belly-band, ankle holster, garter holster, something. Or nothing.

I believe that teaching children muzzle discipline and respect for firearms is THE best way to protect them against deadly or injurious negligent discharges. But I also believe that off-body carry is inherently dangerous and, equally, unnecessary. So, again, don’t do it. Don’t carry off-body.   [h/t John in Ohio]

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  1. I would agree with saying as a beginner, do not carry off-body. Learn the basics first. Understand how to carry on-body. Understand the risks inherent with off-body carry, as well as the risks unique to your particular circumstances, before choosing to carry off-body.

    As for this and similar stories: a firearm in an unattended purse is not being carried. It is being stored negligently:

    In the 911 call the boy’s mother made, she told the dispatcher they had just returned home and she put her purse down and was in the kitchen when the shooting happened.

    If you’re going to carry off-body, you have to carry. Once you put your off-body carry device down, you’re no longer carrying.

    • Ooooh. Very important point. It is one thing to carry in a purse that is strapped over your shoulder. It is entirely different when you set that purse down and take your eyes off of it.

      I like Chip Bennett’s distinction between “off body carry” and “negligent storage”.

    • /\ This.

      No matter how I carry, the gun doesn’t leave me unless it is safely stored, or placed under the knowing possession of a family member with a CPL.

      The problem here is 1: Abandoning the bag. 2: Stupid children.
      Both can be fixed.

      Off-body isn’t going to go away, so we might as well try to come up with some guidelines to make it safer.

      • #2 can’t be fixed as easily or completely as you presume. The child in the story above was three. There’s not a three-year-old in the world I would trust with a loaded gun.

      • This was NOT about stupid children, they are NOT stupid. Parents are stupid. Children are only the product of what they are taught.

      • “stupid children”. That’s a childish thing to say. As easy as it is to vent, that is not helpful.

        It is in the nature of a child to be extremely curious, extremely irresponsible, because they do not yet understand “what if I did this? Or that?” It is the parent’s job to watch over the child, to teach the child, to not leave the child to find some deadly thing (like a weapon). It is called “childproofing”, as in “childproof your home”.

        At some developmental point the child can learn responsibility. As this happens, irresponsibility becomes a disciplinary situation. Appropriate, loving, as gentle as possible chastisement, with explanation before and assurance of love after, helps form responsibility. Parenthood is challenging. Getting to the point of responsibility with each child is difficult, but must be done. Calling a child “stupid” for being like a child is kind if stupid.

    • Exactly! Unfortunately TTAG is constantly ragging on off body carry, which for most women is the better option. TTAG tends to point out these “negligent storage” stories as why you shouldn’t carry off your body. This has nothing to do with where she chose to carry, this has everything to do with not being responsible with the device once she decided to get home. If you’re going to leave it unattended it needs to be secure in multiple manners.

      • Easier doesn’t mean better. The problem with purse carry in particular is that most women have already spent years with their purse, and have learned behavior reinforced over those years. That behavior includes setting it down when they get home. It’s incredibly difficult (but not impossible) to overrule instincts that have been reinforced that often.

        Off-body carry should be the exception, not the rule, because by definition it means not being directly in control of the firearm. Purse carry is probably the most difficult type of off-body carry to do safely and effectively, for a variety of reasons including the above.

        • Purse carrying is extremely simple. If your concern is that you’ll forget there’s a firearm in there then you shouldn’t carry because you should never forget when you are armed. There’s a difference between something being difficult and someone being negligent. Any issue with a purse I’ve ever heard of from glocks not being in a purse holster to this case comes from negligence that has nothing to do with on body vs off body. As someone previously stated, this has to do with negligent storage. She chose to set the purse down in an ill advised location without properly maintaining the gun for storage. Off body carry issue would have to pertain to her getting attacked prior to getting the gun out or someone being able to fire her gun within her purse at her persons which if holstered should be impossible.

          While as a man it’s easy for me to carry on persons, noting that almost all womens clothing is designed as skin tight i’d rather them carry in a purse than not at all.

      • Ive been dancing around the On Body vs Off body carry thing with my wife for a few weeks now after we found a pistol she really likes, shoots great and is comfortable. I have been comparing purse carry to her as if she were carrying around a newborn baby or a suitcase nuke, neither can ever be left without supervision unless you want some horrible results.

        Very nice to hear more on this issue from the ladies, as you pointed out, the clothing thing is really hard to get around.

      • Arsh, my opinion differs from yours only in that I don’t believe that off body carry is the better option for most women. Most women I know do not off body carry. I don’t purse carry. I have a variety of holsters that work with most all my clothing. Some clothing dictates that I carry my .380s, others work with my 9s, and with some I can easily conceal my .45. It’s a matter of education and clothing and holster options. I do sell conceal carry purses to women that want them but I explain to each one that they cannot hang their purse on the back of their chair at a restaurant, leave it in a grocery cart, or set it down at home unless they first safely store the firearm. That purse is to remain attached to them. I also emphasize that the firearm is the ONLY item in that particular part of the purse and it’s to be holstered. I know many women do purse carry. It’s an option that exists.

  2. Blaming off body carry for these deaths is the functional equivalent of saying “the gun just went off”.

    The failure isn’t the result of the method of carry but rather in the judgement of the carrier. Regardless of how the firearm is carried it is incumbent on the owner to maintain appropriate control.

    The only “lesson” here or in any of the off body carry shootings is stupid people doing stupid things.

    • This, a million times. Leaving a firearm where a small child who doesn’t know any better has easy access to it is the problem here. There are plenty of cases (highlighted at least once a month here on TTAG) of people leaving their on body carried guns in restrooms all across this great land. Does that mean that on-body carry is irresponsible, too? Or does it just mean that sometimes people do stupid things?

      If you’re not responsible enough to know where your gun is at all times, regardless of carry method, you probably shouldn’t be carrying at all.

      • Exactly. TTAG is so focused on on body carry only but all of their examples are libturd stupid scenarios that don’t even constitute as carrying they end up as storage because they chose to leave the firearm unattended in a moronic manner. What’s worse is that TTAG constantly advertises off body storage and then bashes it.

      • I’m glad somebody made this point. On-body carried guns are not always on the body. The main danger to purse carry (because that’s what we’re talking about) is purses are often left on counters, tables, desks, etc., as a matter of course, whereas holsters, when they are separated from the carrier, are only off the body briefly (bathroom, changing clothes). If you treat a purse as a holster instead of a purse, off-body carry becomes a lot less dangerous. But it is a pain in the ass.

      • “If you’re not responsible enough to know where your gun is at all times, regardless of carry method, you probably shouldn’t be carrying at all.”

        Well said good sir, glad someone pointed this one out.

    • As someone who has studied usability and human factors, I have to disagree. It’s really hard to make sure you never make a mistake, so design systems (like how you carry) to minimize the chances of a mistake, don’t hope that you will not make one, because, eventually you will.

      If you carry in a purse or other bag, this means that you never set it down. It’s on your shoulder (I’d prefer across body, but I’m not an expert), or its in your hand or on your lap. Or, the gun is in a safe or your hand. Period.

      What will you do when four things go wrong at once? You do what habit (not merely training) tells you to do, and that be very bad.

      • This x1000. It’s not about “don’t make a mistake” because we’re human and we’re going to. It’s about doing things in a way that dangerous mistakes are much harder to make, or the danger is minimized.

      • Physical controls, such as poka-yoke or baca-yoke, are preferable to administrative controls. Agreed. Mistake-proofing renders the process physically unable to make a mistake, or at least for that mistake to go undetected. Administrative controls rely on training and diligence, which can be inconsistent or lacking.

        The alternative, however, may be no carry at all, which is unaccetable. Find the best way yo carry, but no matter what: carry!

        • Jonathan, kudos to you for this post. I used to work in the aviation safety business and I’ve always thought this kind of thinking is lacking from discussions about gun safety. The difficulty seems to be engineering guns and carry options that ensure BOTH safety and quick accessibility for use. I think it could be done, but I haven’t seen it. It’s ironic we can do it with medicine bottles, but not guns.

      • ^ This!

        A three year old should not be left alone in any kitchen. That particular room is very dangerous even to adults.

  3. If off body carry is a no-no, then that means vehicle guns are a no-no as well. Does the author suggest that citizens should not have a gun handy in the vehicle ?

    Further, unless there’s been a massive redesign of the female fashion industry,for most women its either off body carry or not at all. We guys tend to forget that female clothing and the female figure doesn’t exactly consider armed self defense in mind. My last girlfriend couldn’t carry a P22 Walther without it printing badly .

  4. While I would agree that carrying off body safely is orders of magnitude more difficult to do. It is not impossible. The key (just as when driving a car) is to keep in mind at all times how dangerous the gun can be in the wrong hands and rigorously maintain habits to keep it out of the hands of children (or anyone but you).

    My wife off body carries and never just drops her purse…ever. She either removes the pistol from it, or keeps it out of reach of children with the rest of the firearms. That way she always knows where it is when she goes to grab it and leave. When out, she treats it like a gun…always on her…in the car, it is never out of arms reach.

    Again, just as when driving…a minute of inattention (even seconds) can and will kill. I am surprised to hear the undercurrent in the article saying that folks can’t do this responsibly. If rare and tragic events caused by a lack of care the yardstick we use to measure what we should do, we should not even own guns.

    I agree that on body carry is preferable, but if it is off body or being disarmed…off body is the best of some sub-optimal choices.

  5. RF, your reaction, hysterical reaction, is the same as the anti-gun crowd. OMG some kid died. OMG. OMG. … not for nothing but about 10 thousand times more kids are horribly kilt or life altering injured in car accidents. I don’t see you weeping over the “driving in reverse ” disproportionate contribution to those numbers. NEVER DRIVE IN REVERSE. OMG. NOT THE REVERSE GEAR !!! … Wait I think I am gonna cry… Get over it. It is called being responsible. A gun in trunk, glove compartment, backpack, nightstand drawer, fanny pack or purse is done a million times a day. And ONE FREAKING KID makes you want to change every one of the 80 million gun owers and 11 million ccw permitees behavior. Yeah… a hysterical reaction. Time for some pyscho therapy for your PTSD.

    • I’d take it one step further and suggest that if RF truly feels so strongly about his opposition to off-body carry, then maybe he should put his money where his mouth is and refuse advertising revenues from companies promoting off-body carry. I mean, he wouldn’t carry an ad from MDA, and surely off-body carry is just as irresponsible as gun control?

      Right? …right?

    • LOL…turns out news story this very morning is about Pres Reagan carrying off body in his briefcase !!! Gotta love that guy. Bet that current occupant carries a My Little Pony with him.

  6. I believe off-body carry is a reasonably responsible choice if you are in an environment where you can absolutely guarantee that no children, criminals, or mentally handicapped individuals can gain control of your firearm. Of course that begs the question, where are such environments? I’ll leave that up to the reader to contemplate.

    Having stated that off-body carry can be a reasonably responsible choice if you observe appropriate safeguards, I still believe it is a poor choice from a self-defense standpoint unless you can have your hand on your handgun in its “off-body” location, e.g. in a purse. Off-body carry in a briefcase, backpack, or duffel bag, while offering protection from engagements that allow you several seconds to deploy your firearm, offers zero protection from a sudden assault.

    • Carrying implies that you’re aware of your firearm and your surroundings. That means it should be secured in a manner blocking access. If a gun is in a purse and holstered then when sitting one should have it on their lap hand over the top flap to prevent unknown access. If one ignores that simple step then its negligent storage because it means youre using your purse as a storage location and refused to unload the stored gun in an unlocked manner. All of the “bad off body carry” crap on here is really bad storage. Theres only one case (a glock shot in a purse in a car) that’s been talked about on here as bad off body carry, and that’s because they didn’t have a purse holster and they used a gun that has no safety.

      • Yeah, what about a safety on the gun? According to Mass Ayoub, a safety has saved the lives of at least a couple police officers who had their gun taken from them and their assailant tried to shoot them with it. Documented cases.

        I’d say if you’re going to off-body by all means choose a gun with a safety and train with it.

    • Given the number of concealed and open carriers I see who don’t use a retention holster, I think this off body issue is a red herring.

  7. It is all about discipline. If you are not disciplined enough to off-body carry, don’t do it. Be responsible for your own failings. If you think you might leave your purse or whatever unattended, do not put a gun in it. Absolutism, in my opinion, is almost always wrong. Do not ban something simply because someone cannot not do it responsibly. Frankly, if they cannot off-body carry responsibly, perhaps they cannot on-body responsibly either. Perhaps we need to emphasize responsible off-body carry.

  8. Good for you Robert. I agree whole-heartedly. Off-carry is just not worth the risk of this kind of tragedy. And its about the safety of others and not ourselves; typically loved ones, that off-carry puts at risk.

  9. A terrible tragedy, to be sure. However, do all of you against off-body carry also advocate for all swimming pools to be covered whenever an adult isn’t in the pool or watching the pool? After all, a lot of little kids drown each year. I’m not making light of the subject, nor am I saying people should leave loaded guns laying around where little kids can get them. What I am pointing out is that somehow, when a gun is involved, its all the sudden a huge media production…but if a child dies by some other method, though the child is just as dead, the media barely registers the story. Once again, for them, its NOT about saving a child’s life, its about demonizing firearms.

  10. People who obc: Just like you would store your handgun in a strongbox or a safe, you can just as easily store your carry bag/satchel/purse in a large enough strongbox, safe, or locking cabinet. This advice also prevents the attack of sticky fingers or “borrowing” the car without asking. Live it, learn it, love it.

  11. Please tell me more about my life and my everyday work situation where on body carry is obviously so easy that I don’t do it because I’m lazy.

    I’ll take the gun locked in my desk or in my backpack behind me over no gun any day.

  12. Given the problems the alleged professionals at LAPD are having with on body carry, I take this with a grain of salt. Weapons need to be secure, whether on body or off. Her unattended purse is not secure.

  13. When carrying, it is imperative that the carrier be situationally aware of their circumstances at all times, and never expose their inherently deadly tool to meddling by anyone, young or old. Some may object proclaiming ‘that’s easy to say…’, but *that’s* the discipline, especially in the company of kids and in close proximity to adults.

    Just like you would a chainsaw. Or a sharp knife. You get the idea.

  14. It may be easier for ladies to carry in a purse, but it’s easier to carry safely in a good belt holster. So, I’m not a fan of purse carry for ladies. It can be done safely and well, sure, but it requires very careful attention by the user. There is only a small margin of error.

    In the case cited above, the owner’s attention wandered for a few moments, with catastrophic results. That’s on her, not her purse.

  15. What about a handgun carry purse with a lock mechanism, at least on the holster portion, that can be made somewhat more secure if it is to be set aside momentarily? Retention purse?

    • A retention purse is a pretty good idea. Why not a purse just like all the other carry bags out there, with a dedicated pocket for the gun, but instead of just being a pocket, it could have an attachment point for a retention holster add-on. The company could sell retention modules for different models of gun, so if you got a new gun, you wouldn’t have to buy a new bag, and they wouldn’t have to make a special purse for each model of gun.

  16. If you are legal what’s so hard about a fanny pack? Yeah they’re not supposed to be stylish but I see they are coming back. This woman has no excuse-3 year olds are lacking in impulse control. OR have a gun with a REAL safety…

  17. My best-friend’s grandmother used to tote a snub-nose .357 around in her purse, which was with her 24/7. The pistol had no holster, because the purse itself served as such. And for a long time, we never knew Oma was packing.
    One day I suppose she got a little stir-crazy, and decided to tag along with us to the farm for some plinking. We piled out with our .22s, 410s, and 24-packs of cheap soda, and she sat in the car for a while, listening to the radio. After a while & during a break in our shooting, she got out and made her way to our firing-line. We didn’t notice the purse, because it was essentially an extension of the old girl.
    Grandma stood there for a minute, and she insisted that we continue. My friend thought maybe she wanted to shoot a .22, and kindly offered his Rossi single-shot; but she replied with a little smile, “No thanks sweety, I just thought maybe I’d blow the dust off my fingers.”
    We were confused; Oma was getting up in years and sometimes didn’t make much sense, but this was something we’d never heard before.
    “Ya’ll better cover your ears”
    She gave us a good minute to work that out; when we finally did Oma took two steps towards a threatening Dr. Thunder, suddenly produced a brutal-looking snub-nose from somewhere, and blasted the can into oblivion with two shots (probably at about 20ft). Up until that point, we didn’t know she could move so fast. And just as quickly, she spent the remaining three rounds on the rotten fence-post we had been setting cans on, which damn near knocked it in half. We also never heard her laugh like she did after looking over and seeing the shock on our faces.
    After everyone calmed down, she showed us where her pistol resided; a perfectly-sized leather pouch sewn into the lining of the purse (of the grandma-made carpetbag type). It had worn into a perfectly conformed shape for the pistol, and allowed her to reach in/draw/fire before any of us were aware of it happening. She mentioned that she didn’t need to tell us to keep our hands off her purse, and that’s the last we ever saw of Oma’s heater.
    And now that I think about it, many times I’d see her sitting in her rocking chair warching soaps, purse on lap, with one hand stuffed inside it. From how she used to yell at the soap-opera villians, I wonder now if she had one hand on that .357 as well.

  18. There’s nothing wrong with off body carry WRT incidents of this kind.
    It’s the fundamental failure to make safe a firearm no longer in one’s possession that is the issue.
    If someone is going to carry in that manner, then they MUST make the firearm safe before relinquishing possession – which is what they do when they set the bag down.
    This might come across as sexist but women treat handbags as an extension of themselves & thus fail to see the imperative of making safe any firearm in that bag “because it’s in MY bag…”.
    If you’re going to put it down, then unload the firearm & make it safe, or otherwise secure it apart from the magazine or ammunition.
    Don’t want to feel disarmed that way?
    Then carry on your person.

  19. Carrying a gun is a pain in a lot of ways. Keeping track of it is a big part of the problem. Doing it right is hard but if you aren’t doing it right (and YOU are the only on who really knows) then quit carrying. Not worth it.

  20. Let me say up front I am NOT for “smart guns.” But I do think it is unfortunate and ironic that a workable smart gun technology would be a possible solution for OBC safety. But the gun community (including me) can’t support the idea because it has become politicized and we are justifiably concerned that it would be mandated. In an ideal world, I’d like to see a reliable smart gun technology available as a personal option for people who want it. But the anti-gunners have actually made it more difficult to have that, because it is obvious that once it is viable, they will ram it down our throats.

  21. Off body carry should only be by necessity! however One rule doesn’t fit all, sort of like Obama care! circumstance’s Times & places Vary!
    Simple fact Parent lost track of weapon, child found it and discharged it permanently Injuring them selves!
    Shoulda, woulda, coulda Doesn’t mean much after the fact!! chastising harshly will make a new Anti- Gun!

  22. i completely agree. if your weapon is not on your person when you need it, it is reduced to a talisman. it is no different to me than if you had to take a heart pill everyday or you could die, but you don’t keep them on you. big mistake.

  23. I hate off-body carry, as well.

    But, without off-body carry, the best I can do is a Kel-Tec P3AT. Concealed required. Printing felonious. Floriduh.


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