Is Off-Body Firearm Carry A Potential Safety Concern?

By Rick Ector

Is "Off-Body" Firearm Carry Safe?
Is “Off-Body” Firearm Carry Wise?
Legally Armed In Detroit
Legally Armed In Detroit

Detroit, Michigan – -( In the aftermath of a tragically fatal shooting incident in an Idaho Walmart store, some people are questioning whether “off body” firearm carry is a potential safety concern.

Off-Body firearm carry is any mode or method of carrying a firearm in which it is not directly affixed to the carrier’s body. Examples of off-body carry would include carrying a firearm in a purse, coat pocket, backpack, “Fanny Pack,” or a briefcase.

Background Info On The Tragic Incident

Several reputable news media outlets reported that on the day after Christmas, a 29 year-old Idaho woman was shot and killed by her two year-old son with her own handgun. She reportedly left it unattended within her specially designed concealed carry purse. Presumably, her son gained unsupervised access to her handbag and unzippered the designated compartment for her pistol. Sometime thereafter the child picked up the handgun and fatally shot his mother in the head.

The victim has been consistently described as an experienced gun owner who regularly practiced her marksmanship at a gun range. Furthermore, she also had a valid conceal carry permit. Accordingly, it seems plausible to assume that she knew how to properly handle and safely operate firearms.

Why Would Someone Carry A Firearm In Off-Body Mode?

Some people choose to carry their firearms in off-body mode for convenience and comfort. For example, if a person’s daily schedule involves areas where firearms can not be legally carried (i.e. gun free zones), the firearm can be easily, quickly, and discreetly separated from the carrier and be stored away in a secured area – such as a locked car trunk – by just detaching the carried accessory.

In addition, off-body carry allows a carrier to experience a greater degree of comfort under certain circumstances. For example, warm weather typically limits wardrobe choices and modes of carry for firearm carriers who either can’t legally open carry a firearm or who do not wish to visually inform onlookers that they are armed.  As a consequence, some wardrobe challenged persons opt to carry off-body.

Are There Any Safety Concerns With Off-Body Carry?

As a professional Firearms Trainer, I personally don’t specifically endorse off-body carry, but I am not opposed to it if one is aware of the issues that go along with it and acts accordingly. The debate surrounding “on body” carry versus off body carry is not too different than the debate between conceal carry advocates chiding open carry practitioners for not hiding their guns.

Each side debates the relative merits of one’s own practices while disparaging the other’s.

However, if you are going to carry a gun in your purse or jacket, you need to be sure – at a minimum – that you do not allow or make it possible for an unauthorized person to gain access to your firearm at any time – whatever it takes.

As such, you can’t leave your gun in a shopping cart while you walk away for a few moments to check out other items further up the aisle. In addition, when visiting the homes of friends and family members, you can not simply hang your coat on a coat rack and leave it out of your sight until you are ready to leave.

You are responsible for your firearm every moment of the day. It only takes mere seconds for an unauthorized person to access your coat and acquire your firearm if you do not have it in your possession and under your direct control.

Owning and carrying a firearm requires a serious commitment to be responsible and to follow all fundamental safety rules each and every single time that you handle, carry, or operate a firearm. Keeping your firearm away from unauthorized users is a very important safety rule. If you are not up for the responsibility of watching your off body firearm every moment of the day, you should seriously consider only carrying a firearm in on body mode.

Should We Do Anything As A Consequence Of This Tragedy?

All things considered, there is no need for us to wring our hands and wonder if we need to do something as a consequence of the aforementioned tragedy. Sometimes, we err as humans and pay a horrific price for doing so. That is part of the experience of this existence we call life.

There is risk is in almost everything we do. The best we can do is assess our activities and make a concerted effort to be diligent with the responsibility that has been entrusted to us. This incident has increased my awareness about off body even though I rarely practice it. However, it has given me an additional cautionary tale to share with my conceal carry students.

My suggestion for “corrective action” for the aforementioned tragedy is for all of us to share the story’s details with every gun carrier we know. In the same way that I have just shared it with you, I want you to share it with your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Do it now.

About The Author
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school – Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit.

Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety, a gun rights keynote speaker, and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, NRAnews, Gun Digest, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, Lock-N-Load Radio, WGPR and the UrbanShooterPodcast.

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Unless I missed it, there is no mention of what firearm was involved. For a two year old to fire a gun it had to be pretty easy to operate. Which raises the question in my mind of why someone would carry a gun of a type or in a condition that is so easily fired.

Hipshot Percussion

You can’t guard against what you can’t imagine. I’m sure it never crossed her mind that her toddler would be able to get into her Carry purse. Thoughts and prayers go out to her child and their family.

Stay Safe and Carry Responsibly

L J Larasn

Ban kids not guns


Everyone says she was trained and knowledgeable, yet she allowed her 2 year old to kill her. I say she was neither.

The Outlaw

You can be “trained and knowledgeable” and careless. Sadly the carelessness cost this lady her life and when the little boy grows up he may have issues to deal with also. I’m sure he will be reminded of what happened even if he has no memories of the incident of his own.


When the topic of off-body carry comes up in the classes I’ve taken the recommendation has been to not carry with a round in the chamber. The reasoning is that the likelihood of not having the gun under your immediate control is greater when it’s in something like a purse or briefcase. Sure, my briefcase is three feet from my right leg but something as simple as getting a drink of water means I’m fifteen feet away. So, when I carry a .380 in my back pocket it has one round in the chamber while a .45 when in my… Read more »


Shoulder purses and fanny packs are alternatives. If kept on the person. Teachers have special problems. Maybe a lockbox in the classroom?


My wife & I often go dancing at a ballroom in a not so safe area. I can’t concealed carry while dancing because a woman running into the gun on my person could be painful for her. I simply won’t leave a gun unattended in the bag we carry our shoes in. Sometimes carrying a gun just doesn’t work.

The Outlaw

Make it. Get a Kel Tec P3AT or Ruger LCP. They can be hidden in a pocket and are damn sure better than “carrying a gun does not work” especially in a “not so safe area.” Why do you frequent a “not so safe area” anyway? First rule of being safe is to stay away from areas where you know trouble is likely. I realize and agree that you can’t let bad people determine how you live your life but come on man if it’s that bad an area either you or your wife is going to get injured, or… Read more »