There are some news stories that are next to impossible to pick apart. What do you write about when a story that appears, at first, to be about poor gun safety is about someone who took proper precautions to prevent an accident?
On December 30, 29-year old Veronica Rutledge was accidentally shot and killed by her 2-year old son while shopping. Initial reports made sound as if she tossed a loaded gun into a shopping bag and headed off to Wal-Mart. That wasn’t the case. Rutledge, a chemical engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory, had her firearm in a purse designed for concealed carry. She was a CWL holder and an experienced shooter. It sounds like she did everything right.
So what went wrong?
Her father-in-law is quoted as saying that “She generally carried on her person”, which I presume to mean that she usually carried “on-body” as opposed to in her purse. He also implied that this was uncomfortable for her, hence the purse.
This brings us to a dilemma that concealed carry permit holders face: How important is comfort? On body carry offers us better accessibility to a weapon as well as better control; it’s “right there” and you know when someone or something is touching it. It’s also uncomfortable having a chunk of metal jabbing you in the side all day long. It’s also human nature to not want to do something that’s uncomfortable. This is one of the things that makes off-body carry attractive. If carrying a firearm is more comfortable, we’re more likely to do it on a daily basis.
Why is this important? Because only carrying sometimes is the same as being unarmed sometimes. (Or, as we Californians who aren’t Hollywood A-listers like to say, “Welcome to my world.”) When things go wrong, a gun and a carry permit aren’t of much use if they’re sitting at home. If off-body carry makes taking your gun with you a daily exercise, then that’s the option you should explore.
There’s also the issue of “printing”. This is where the outline of a concealed firearm is visible through one’s clothing or the gun or holster protrudes from under your clothes. Depending on where you live, this may be illegal. Off-body carry reduces this problem.
On the other hand, off-body carry can leave the weapon outside of your control. If the gun is in your purse, backpack, or briefcase, then the only way to ensure that you always have control over it would be to never let go of that item. Unless you’re like my great grandmother, who maintained a death-grip on her purse, that’s probably not practical.
So now let’s look at the what ifs. What if Mrs. Rutledge only carried on-body? What is that made her carry infrequently? What if she needed the gun one day? What if it was a day when she left it at home? Now let’s back up. What if she always kept the purse on her shoulder? What if lugging the purse and pistol around became the cause of discomfort? What if that caused her to carry infrequently? Now we’re back to “What if she needed the gun one day? What if it was a day when she left it at home?”.
The terrible truth is that we could consume megabytes on other what ifs and never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Sometimes there is no right answer. Kobayashi Maru. Unfortunately, this won’t stop some people from demanding new laws to prevent something that can’t be prevented.