Veronica Rutledge was trying out her new concealed carry purse, and thought it was safe enough to leave with her toddler for a few seconds while shopping. She died of a bullet in the head, courtesy of her two-year-old.
We’ve just recently discovered that Christina Bond was having trouble adjusting her bra holster when she shot herself in the eye. Bond died the next day.
While Rutledge’s story became nation news for a short time and there is some interest in Bond’s death due to the oddity of the circumstances, these stories are not well known, nor are the other deaths and injuries that occur each year due to what I call the “stupid carry” of handguns.
What is stupid carry?
Stupid carry is any form of concealed carry that involves a concealed carrier carrying his or her firearm off-body and therefore out of his or her immediate control, or which utilizes an on-body carry system that doesn’t adequately contain and control the weapon, fails to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction during normal activity, and/or fails to protect the trigger. All of these design failures increase the likelihood of a negligent discharge causing serious injury or death.
Examples of “stupid carry” include:
- purse holsters
- tablet/notebook/organizer holsters
- briefcase holsters
- horizontal shoulder holsters
- holsters that don’t cover the trigger guard of the pistol on both sides
- bra holsters
- cheaply-made holsters of any design
This list is by no means exhaustive, and is simply an example of the dangerous holster designs that I’ve personally seen. I know that Bearing Arms contributor Stephen P. Wenger noted in his Defensive Use of Force Digest that he knew someone that carried a small DAO semi-auto in a holster hanging from his neck, where the barrel was pointed at his chin. I’ve never seen such a monstrosity, and I’m sure that isn’t the only dangerous holster design that I’ve missed.
Purse holsters, organizer holsters, and briefcase holsters are all off-body carry systems which encourage concealed carriers to put their firearm down, relinquishing control of that firearm. Some have poorly designed “universal” holster compartments that make the handgun slow to access and difficult to safely reholster.
Horizontal shoulder holsters constantly muzzle anyone behind the shooter.
Holsters that don’t adequately protect the trigger from both sides are begging for a negligent discharge in an age where so many are carrying firearms without external safeties. There is a seemingly popular minimalist IWB holster design where a plug that goes into the barrel is supposed to provide some level of support, and there is a shield on one side of the holster to protect the trigger, but at all nothing on the other side. It is only a small step up from simply thrusting a handgun in your pants.
The most popular bra holster is a relatively benign design when used as it was intended, and the holster is removed entirely to reholster the handgun before the system is reattached. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only bra system on the market, and there are those who insist on trying to make adjustments while the handgun in in place, such as the unfortunate Bond.
“Cheaply-made” holsters are those holsters made out of flimsy and substandard materials, regardless of cost. I’ve seen $100 “cheap” holsters and good quality $40 holsters. The low-quality of cheaply-made holsters often leads to them losing shape and failing to adequately protect/contain the handgun.
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I personally prefer strong-side carry, either an OWB holster at the 3-4 o’clock position, or an IWB at the 4-5 o’clock, but I’m not saying that my way is the only way. It simply works for my body shape, the handguns I prefer to carry, and the rigid holster designs and materials that I prefer to use, and the style of clothes which I prefer to wear.
There are many people I respect who use different carry systems, but the common denominators are:
- they all carry their firearms on their body where they are in control of the handgun at all times
- the weapon is contained in a quality rigid holster with little or no movement
- the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction
- holster never puts the muzzle pointing anywhere near vital organs structures when unholstering/reholstering.
The best way to avoid a potentially deadly negligent discharge is to learn safe gunhandling skills, and pair those skills with a reliable handgun and a quality on-body holster.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing a novelty holster simply because it’s novel, or of buying a cheaply-made holster simply to save a few dollars.
The life you save may be your own.
Update: The manufacturer of the bra holster sold via Etsy that was originally used as the feature image took offense at our using it as an example of a bra holster, and our linking to her site. We have since replaced that image.