Let’s All Take a Deep Breath When It Comes to Risk and Firearms


Reader Donald Frame writes:

The topic of what to do with your gun when you’re not shooting it isn’t going away.  Here’s a recap of recent doings on TTAG: Robert Farago doesn’t like off body carry. Massad Ayoob had a little video clip describing off-body options and drawbacks, and I got the sense he wasn’t that crazy about off-body carry. Johannes Paulsen doesn’t like off-body carry and recently chided someone for locking his gun up in his motel room from whence an employee stole it. Recently he got after an FBI agent whose sniper rifle was stolen for not taking it into his hotel room. I’m not sure what to make of that. The poor fibbie had the thing locked in a box. Seems like an adequate effort on the face of it. Lots believe a gun is either on your hip or in your safe…that’s it . . .

Let’s stipulate straight away that a gun in your safe is safer from theft than one sitting on your porch, or on the dashboard of your unlocked car. A gun on your hip may be safer than one in your briefcase. And a gun with a spiked barrel, no ammo and a busted trigger may be the safest gun of all.

Let’s all take a deep breath and stipulate something: there is no way to assure that your guns are completely inaccessible to unauthorized people. If man can make it, man can break it and no matter how tough you are, there’s always someone tougher.  There’s no such thing as maintaining absolute control of your weapon.

So what’s reasonable? Noted gun control org, Bloomberg United Liberals Lamenting Citizen’s Real Actual Protection, has taught us that facts are completely unnecessary when deciding what ought to be done in terms of firearms or safety. Guns are scary and that’s really all you need to know.

We, the People of the Gun, know that’s silly (to be kind) and therefore I am certain that such eminences as Johannes and Robert have loads of data at their fingertips that reveal the terrible problems associated with off-body carry and inadequate gun storage.


Now let’s stir in some context, which may get interesting. I carry a pistol in a briefcase (not pictured above) a lot. Nearly all the time, in fact. If someone steals that from me, I’m an incompetent moron for putting the world at risk with my carelessness. If someone steals my car keys and then my truck, I’m just another unfortunate crime victim.

If the pistol is scary, the truck is terrifying! Just imagine 7500 caliber with 33 million grains at 73 feet per second!  That’s 476,000 foot-pounds of energy and a Taylor Knockout Factor of 26.3 million, enough for 175,200 elephants with some cape buffalo left over. That makes a .45 look like a kiss from your mother.

What’s the difference?

Life is filled with scary stuff. Going in the house to augment my caffeine dose, I spied my chainsaw right there in the open. Imagine the awful potential. It would take my disabled mom only a couple of minutes to break into my garage. The average bad guy could do it in seconds. Then he’d have the chainsaw and nothing would ever be the same.

Right there next to the chain saw is the Sawzall I bought last week for a measly $39 at the local pawn shop. No ID check or anything. That’d cause some serious mayhem if I was so inclined.

My medicine cabinet is filled with toxic substances. If my 10-year-old decided to down a bottle of any of it, we’d be looking for a new 10-year-old. Scary stuff. And then there’s my drill! It’d go right through any selected body part like a knife through butter.

Come to think of it, I just used that drill to build an arrow tube for backyard archery. That brings to mind the authoritative WHACK my measly 25-pound recurve can put on a cardboard box with a cheap arrow…frightening.

Five minutes spent on the internet will teach you how to make a microwave bomb from common household stuff. Need I go on?

Here’s the thing…just about everyone has more or less unfettered access to all sorts of dangerous implements, many of which are more dangerous than guns. Still, nothing much happens from one day to the next. I’ve worked in an ER for 15 years and counting, and have yet to see anyone shot by a victim’s gun. Does it happen? Sure. Is it common? Not so much.

Granted, the less the secure the storage or carry method, the higher the risk. But without any data, how can one decide what amount of risk is acceptable? And who ought to decide? Could this be left up to free people, without continuous second-guessing from the TTAG crowd?

RF and JP are, of course, welcome to their opinions. I, however, am unconvinced as yet. I’ll freely admit that briefcase carry is less secure than a holster on my hip, but I doubt it’s enough to matter. If my gun is stolen, I’ll let the bad guy feel guilty. I won’t.

Sumbitches shouldn’t steal. I’m not going to take my shotgun into the steakhouse after dove hunting, and I’m not going to skip the steak, either. My smoothbore will be in the truck if you really want it. If this bothers RF, I’ll invite him along for my next trip. He can stay outside and watch the guns, and I’ll bring him a doggy bag. Then we’ll both be happy!


  1. avatar ST says:

    The problem with off body carry is it places a deadly weapon in the position of being controlled by a stranger, and rather easily. That is a problem when said deadly weapon can be used to assault and rob someone else.

    That someone else might be a cop, an armed citizen….or an unfortunate victim whose husband is going to get some bad news at 3AM. All because, bottom line, someone didn’t want to go the trouble of carrying it on their person in public.

    I’ll note that for women , an exception exists with purse carry. Modern female fashion simply precludes any form of belt carry except for the “stoutest” of ladies.

    1. avatar MarkPA says:

      Seems like you missed the entire point of the OP.
      Admittedly, the OP’er might have made his point more clear if he had stated explicitly that anybody who really wants a gun can get a gun and do the same damage as he would do if he stole a gun.

      I don’t think that either point-of-view is the absolute and final truth. Off body carry introduces some risks that are reduced by on-body carry. E.g., the Idaho mother who’s toddler got her gun from her purse.

      Young kids can’t so easily get guns in the black market; and, we can’t ensure that all young kids will be trained. This is reason enough for us to strive to carry and store our guns as safely as we can.

      Apart from kids aspect of the problem, I think that safer-storage rapidly runs into diminishing returns. Let’s pretend that somehow we managed to prevent all thefts. OK, now, we have closed one hole-in-the-sive through which criminals and crazies get guns. Why should we imagine that the stolen-guns source of supply won’t be made up by: straw-buying; smuggling; clandestine factories? Repeal the 2A; why should we imagine that closing the straw-buying source won’t be made up by smuggling? Seal the boarders; there is still CNC machinery and soon will be 3D printer technology that is fully developed.

  2. avatar IIIPercenter says:

    There are two people in a room. Strapped to one of their belts is a holster containing a loaded pistol. How many armed people are there in that room?

    The correct answer is: “two”.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      What if both people are tied to a bed? : )

      See, guns are so much fun.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        Now it’s a party!

    2. avatar JasonM says:

      What if the one sitting in front of the door has no arms and no legs? We’ll call him…Matt.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        And another armless/legless dude is hanging on the wall, we’ll call him ‘Art.’

        1. avatar Tommycat says:

          Toss him in the water and call him Bob

        2. avatar ninjaTED says:

          Hang him at the top of the window and call him Rod.

        3. avatar Grindstone says:

          Put him in a hole in the ground and call him Curt and Rod! Wait, no, crap. I messed that one up guys.

      2. avatar SkyMan77 says:

        Water Skiing >>> Skip

    3. avatar PeterW says:

      No, the answer is “none” ‘cuz “2 is 1 and 1 is none”

  3. avatar Roger says:

    Quote: “Life is filled with scary stuff. Going in the house to augment my caffeine dose, I spied my chain right there in the open. Imagine the awful potential. It would take my disabled mom only a couple of minutes to break into my garage. The average bad guy could do it in seconds. Then he’d have the chainsaw and nothing would ever be the same.”

    I had to read the whole paragraph to figure out what you meant. You said “chain” instead of “chainsaw” in the first sentence.

  4. avatar Pieslapper says:

    Will your pistol fire inside the briefcase? Saw a sweet UZI briefcase gun at a gun show, price was a bit high though.

  5. avatar Hannibal says:

    “Right there next to the chain saw is the Sawzall I bought last week for a measly $39 at the local pawn shop. No ID check or anything. That’d cause some serious mayhem if I was so inclined…”

    So we should all forget about guns and carry around Sawzalls, right?

    No, that would be really, really dumb. The two are nowhere near as dangerous. This line of ‘reasoning’ is ridiculous and I’m tired of hearing it from our side, because it’s easy to refute. Hammers, bats, etc are not as dangerous as guns, and they’re not as useful as guns unless you’re trying to secure plywood or hit a baseball. Guns have developed the way they have to be deadly. That’s why I carry one, and it’s absurd to run away from that fact.

    If ever I somehow end up in a duel with the author and he selects his drill instead of the revolver, I’m going to be relived.

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      Some guy in Brazil once sawed through the bleachers of the opposing team (presumably trying to mass murder their fans.). Also; Paul Bunyon.

    2. avatar Broken 3ight says:

      I completely agree. “Well you could kill someone with a hammer. It’d actually be easier/more effective than a firearm” Oh really? Why don’t you conceal carry a hammer then?

      I agree with the author though, people freak out way more than they should about securing their firearm. “You left your gun in your car? ARE YOU INSANE??” Well wtf am I supposed to do with it? Fit a safe in my trunk? I think my gun is as about as safe from theft as my car if I keep my car locked. I’m not worried about it.

      1. avatar working4change says:

        actually any locked/hidden compartment for a firearm is illegal in most states. i miss the days when a gun rack in the truck was NORMAL! we would go in for dinner and omg! the guns are still there.

        things were great before Low information people started using computers…. the believe anything they read if its bad, but nothing that is good. so now rhey are terrified of any weapon or tool, and pushed to fear less then 4% of the population and thry demand. (Gays n Islam) oh yeah they fear bring called racist to.

        on no he pointing at me, he wants to shoot someone! (kid playing using his fingers or a pop tart)

      2. avatar Tommycat says:

        The Mongols(motorcycle gang) often carry ball peen hammers on them. Cops can’t prevent them from having them as they are tools. Yet people get beaten to death with them just the same. Personally, I’d rather be shot to death than beaten to death with a hammer… just sayin, one way is a little less crunching and smashing.

    3. avatar General Zod says:

      If your gun is holstered/concealed and someone is standing within 20 feet of you with a knife, hammer or bat, then yes, their weapon is much more dangerous than yours. They can close that distance and attack you with their weapon before you can successfully draw and use yours.

      If you’re unarmed and someone attacks you with an impact/bladed weapon, your life is in every bit as much danger as it would be if you were attacked with a gun – more, perhaps, because it’s a lot easier to use a knife or bat successfully with no experience than it is with a gun.

      You’re falling prey to the antis’ logic – that in any situation, the gun is the most dangerous possible weapon to have. Guns aren’t magic.

      1. avatar Broken 3ight says:

        That 20ft myth has been proven false. A lot.

        1. avatar working4change says:

          False! unless a personbis trained and aware of what is going on, 20ft is near instant and dealy.

          if you carry you must train. if your unarmed lol you should be trained. but the sheep have every right to stay untrained and unarmed all they want. the police are really hood at filling out reports and notifing next of kin.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:


          Yeah, you are right … it is more like 30+ feet. My instructor at my concealed carry class demonstrated it for us. He told a student to hold her handgun at the low-ready position facing a target. Then he put his hand on her shoulder. Finally, he told her to bring her handgun up as fast as possible and shoot the target in front of her as soon as she realized that he had taken his hand off of her shoulder. Guess what? He always managed to get more than 30 feet away before she could get a shot off.

          Now imagine how much farther away an attacker could be when your brain has to first recognize the attack and then you have to draw from concealment.

          So, yes, an attacker with a hammer or knife within 30 feet is extremely dangerous. In fact I would say that the defender is almost guaranteed to suffer a mortal wound every time.

      2. avatar GreatPlainsSower says:

        @generalzod–” more, perhaps, because it’s a lot easier to use a knife or bat successfully with no experience than it is with a gun.” 10 year old cartel hitmen, and seventy year-old ladies kinda prove that you don’t need much experience to use a gun successfully over a bladed or blunt weapon. Blades and bats require strength to use effectively to produce the result of a GSW.

        ‘You’re falling prey to the antis’ logic – that in any situation, the gun is the most dangerous possible weapon to have. Guns aren’t magic.”
        Correct guns aren’t magic in the fact that if you point it in the general direction of a threat and fire you are going to miss, unless using a short barreled twelve gauge. Kind of magic in how guns can render large aggressive evil men into to nothingness, when used by a smaller victim. A gun is designed to destroy anything that is in front of it and as Officer H stated please bring a bat to a gunfight and tell St. Peter how that went for your hypothesis.

        Any man pulls a knife or bat on me at twenty feet, I would be able to clear my cover shirt if not OCing, and have enough time to determine if I draw the .45 from my hip, or the .45 from my shoulder, or the .45 from 5
        o’ clock, and killing the threat by the time he made it to 15 feet from harming anyone. They would make it to 19′ if I was open carrying, as situational awareness is a way of life or death, not just POTG jargon.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


          I am going to have to call you out on your claims. There is no way in the world that you or anyone else can register an attack, draw a firearm from a holster (open or concealed), and put a shot on target in the 0.5 seconds it takes a fit attacker to cover 11 feet.

          Read my comment above where my concealed carry instructor demonstrated how an attacker can easily cover more than 30 feet before a student was able to shoot a target from the low-ready position.

        2. avatar GreatPlainsSower says:

          Get shot at a couple times by mistake and you gain some gunsense. Baptism by fire makes you never want to be shot at again and if it can’t be avoided why not be the best you can be. I haven’t been a student for a long time but I do enjoy perfecting my skills to being faster than most men, since second place doesn’t count in this contest. I can register an attack because I always pay attention and the moments when my head is in the clouds is when I’m surrounded by armed men. Nobody gets within grabbing distance of me nor does anyone stand behind me, so I limit my vulnerabilities at all times.

          I can register an attack rather quickly because it unfortunately wouldn’t be the first violent encounter that I would have experienced, and I would try to make sure a knife fight wouldn’t be my last encounter in this zero sum game. I would see a threat and draw and fire while open carrying within one second to be humble I will go 1.5, causing a bullet to hit my target in the center at the third rib hopefully through the spine. 3 seconds at most if I am concealed carrying, speed is easy to gain by throwing something in the air and being able to draw, re-holster, and catch the object. I have a Brother that pushes me as well. Unload a 1911 and lock the slide, and we place two bullets next to them and see who hits the target, the penalty for second is not pleasant, just like a real gunfight. My first shot would be accurately fired from the hip or mid-chest the instant my gun clears my body, and I would fire until both hands are gripping my gun in front of me.

          I would smile(adrenalinesideeffectforme) at the evil bastard and it would make it one step so I was wrong about 19′, it would be DRT at seventeen.

    4. avatar tdiinva says:

      The gun is not the most deadly weapon available to a person intent on mass murder. It is gasoline or fertilizer + diesel fuel. James Holmes could have killed far more people in Aurora with those than he did with guns.

      A gun is superior to all those tools that could used as weapons if a gun is available. However, one person with a lightweight chainsaw can kill and maim a lot of unarmed people. As many as a gun?probably not but they could get to double digits before help arrives.

    5. avatar Anonymous says:

      So we should all forget about guns and carry around Sawzalls, right?

      ??? The author never stated that sawzalls were more dangerous than firearms. So – your refutation (or attempts thereof) refute an argument which you fabricated.

      You are putting the firearm on a pedestal while disregarding all other means of potential weapons or objects of possible accidents. Then blaming the victim for the theft because they didn’t secure it “enough.”

    6. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      I completely disagree with your statement that firearms are the most dangerous weapon. Other weapons simply require different tactics which, properly employed, are every bit as dangerous as a firearm.

  6. avatar Joe R. says:

    CAN’T WE ALL JUST AGREE THAT ONE DAY (TIME PERMITTING) WE ARE ALL JUST GOING TO KILL EACH OTHER???????????? [It even says so in the worst parts of the Bible]. Sound ridiculous? Does the inverse sound any more true stupid?

    Then we can all just get over ourselves. NO A-hole out there can protect you from me, and EVEN IF THEY COULD, no other A-hole out there could protect you from them.

    It should be ILLEGAL for any A-hole to tell you that they can protect you.

    “if any party’s claim is such that: “I cannot defend you until you have surrendered the means by which you can defend yourself;” only the first half of the statement is true.” [TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012, pg. 46]

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Play every argument out to the end.

  7. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

    Nothing is perfect. We can only strive to get as close to perfect as possible. For the most part, we should all take reasonable steps to insure that our weapons don’t fall into unintended hands for each persons situation.

    I live alone with dogs. Hence, my daily carry is left out. All other weapons are locked up electronically. They are protected from the most likely threat.

    No daily carry firearm in any given caliber is perfect. No carry method is perfect. We can only strive to make any particular choice the best choice. That will involved familiarity and practice.

    Nothing is perfect. Strive to make your choice as close to perfect as possible.

  8. avatar Joe R. says:

    BTW, nice briefcase, a little too Bond for me, but I appreciate your style.

    1. avatar working4change says:

      it says james bond

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        ? And if it said Bruce Jenner, it would still be too Bond for me. : /

  9. avatar AllAmerican says:

    I would carry a grenade if it was easier to do so legally.

  10. avatar Max says:

    This cracked me up…Bloomberg United Liberals Lamenting Citizen’s Real Actual Protection…(BULLCRAP)

    1. avatar Random Commenter says:

      Yeah. I am stealing this by the way. I may/may not give it attribution in future uses.

  11. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Cars are certainly deadly and occasionally used in violent ways. Chainsaws and drills, not so much. If my chainsaw were stolen, I’m really not worried that it might be used by the local neanderthals cut someone up in a drive-by-sawing the next evening.

    I take reasonable steps to keep my firearms secure. I’ll agree with the author’s premise that I should be able to decide what’s “reasonable.” However, it would really bother me if some thug was able to take my gun and potentially use it in a criminal manner. I look after my guns with more vigilance than other stuff that might get stolen.

  12. avatar Mark N. says:

    Safe? What safe?

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      Safes are for people with kids and no concept of OPSEC.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Are you suggesting it is a bad idea to post photos of your expansive firearm collection on the Internet? Say it isn’t so!

        1. avatar Grindstone says:

          Of course not! Just make sure you have GPS tagging turned on for the photo and your Facebook profile set to public! You really want to let everyone know where to NOT go, right?

      2. avatar Stinkeye says:

        Safes are also for people who might wish to try to protect family heirloom firearms from being lost in a house fire.

  13. avatar L,John says:

    I will go to breakfast with the author but I will not sit in the truck and watch the guns. We’ll pay some random kid in the neighborhood a quarter to watch the truck. I’d rather have a conversation with the author than 99.99 percent of the self annointed gun gurus and experts blowing off a lot of useless steam about how I should behave with my guns.

  14. avatar tdiinva says:

    Right after the Boston Marathon bombing some BATFE guys walked into my son’s organic Chem lab at Colorado State to confiscate some materials that could be used to make a bomb. They were “reducing” the risk to the public. They were focusing objects instead of people. Everyone in the lab could to grocery store and/or hardware store and pick up everyday items thathe could be turned into explosives and deadly chemical weapons. The lab was laughing at BATFE guys for grabbing a couple of pounds chemicals. like that was going to someone with their skills from bombing making.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    Well, I’m glad he got that off his chest. Now, back to the adults — who secure their firearms appropriately.

  16. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

    If the pistol is scary, the truck is terrifying! Just imagine 7500 caliber with 33 million grains at 73 feet per second! That’s 476,000 foot-pounds of energy and a Taylor Knockout Factor of 26.3 million, enough for 175,200 elephants with some cape buffalo left over. That makes a .45 look like a kiss from your mother.

    Plus it provides both cover and concealment. I’ve explained that to people before and pointed out that my handgun in the glovebox is nothing more than my backup weapon. It won’t be brought into play unless my car is not sufficient to stop the threat. I can’t bring my gun into my office and I don’t have my CCW yet (soon, though, I hope), so that is how I have to legally carry in IL. For the risk I have, though, it is adequate.

  17. avatar Phil LA says:

    Loved it!

  18. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

    I think half the people above me posting missed the point. Thank you for a breath of fresh air. A whole lot of those guys are missing the forest for the trees.

  19. avatar RetroG says:

    Back when I still lived in Florida, I was informed the fanny pack (made by a holster) was off body carry.

    Look, risk is the product of the impact (a stolen gun, bad) AND the probability. What is the actual probability of someone stealing your off body carry piece? THAT is what you need to QUANTIFY, not just guess at. It’s like all the open carry absurd arguments that don’t have any numbers behind them.

    1. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      A fanny pack , purse , briefcase , sneaky Pete , Etc is only off body after you lay it down somewhere. One can assume with a purse or most bags that it is part of your plan to do so. For fanny packs or the backpak straps that make a shoulder holster one might feel s little different.

  20. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    the truck is terrifying! Just imagine 7500 caliber with 33 million grains at 73 feet per second! That’s 476,000 foot-pounds of energy and a Taylor Knockout Factor of 26.3 million, enough for 175,200 elephants with some cape buffalo left over. That makes a .45 look like a kiss from your mother. I personally have come closer to getting killed by cars than guns.

  21. avatar Anonymous says:

    I agree with the author. There are of course benefits (tactically) to on-body carry at all times, however, some people don’t want to be tactical. They want to be free and left alone. They also don’t want to be blamed for the criminal acts of others simply because they didn’t secure their firearm “enough.”

  22. avatar TravisP says:

    The problem is anyone can steal your truck and mow down 10 ppl and no one will try and ban trucks, same with your chainsaw, and pressure cookers, but no one is trying to actively take away your rights to own these. However after that mom got shot by her 2 year old the antis jumped on like a Baltimore Wal Greens

  23. avatar Dan says:

    For me, I used to keep my guns in easily-accessible places where I could get to them quickly in the event of a home invasion or some other dire emergency. I figured since I’m single and live alone and there’s no law or ordinance requiring me to lock them up where I live, it wasn’t anything to worry about.

    Until I came home from work and walked in on two burglars in my apartment.

    And they had helped themselves to all the guns they could find.

    Fortunately I was able to grab one gun they hadn’t found and hold one of them at gunpoint for the cops while his partner took off running (no honor among thieves).

    Thankfully he only got away with a couple boxes of ammo and my “bug-out bag” I was putting together at the time.

    But that incident convinced me that my guns aren’t just there for my protection they’re an investment too. Like a fine Swiss watch or gold proof coins, or even a plasma TV set, guns are a hot commodity on the black market and just as tempting for burglars as stacks of cash would be.

    So I now keep my guns locked up due to empirical evidence I now have that I am a target for thieves.

    Of course they’re still loaded and in quick-access designed safes so that I can still get to them rapidly if needs be.

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