I had a dream last night. I was riding on a train (or subway) by myself in the evening. It was very crowded, maybe rush hour, and a pair of unknown men sat on either side of me, which at first did not alarm me. The lights were dim or dark, and all of a sudden one of them started to molest me. I had a gun, but it was in my purse, and with the way he was grabbing me there was no way I could reach it. I tried to squirm free but didn’t yell out, and then woke up. But even though I knew it was a dream, the horrifying, frightening and helpless feeling stuck with me. It was one of those dreams that felt all too real, but thankfully was not.
I woke up before anything progressed, but it immediately got me thinking about how I carry my gun and how I, hopefully, can influence others. I am very fortunate that I have never been the victim of any kind of physical assault. My decision to carry a gun was to deter that from ever happening or at least minimize the threat of bodily harm. But if that scenario had been real, and sadly it has been for far too many women, having a gun in my purse simply could never help me. The way the man reached across me in my dream, and the strength with which he used to hold me in place, made it impossible for me to free my arms enough to reach it. That’s not to say if I had been carrying my gun on my waistband (as I do in waking hours), I would have been able to get it, but I certainly would have had a MUCH better chance.
I know there are still far too many women who purse carry, and their reasons vary from fear of injuring themselves while body carrying a gun, to discomfort, to the necessity to make wardrobe changes to conceal it and more. Let’s take a minute to overcome some of the objections:
Objection: Body carrying is scary and unsafe. I always tell women (and men) who are new to guns that it’s 100% natural and normal to feel that carrying a gun on your body (or even off body) is scary. A gun kills and at the very least can do serious bodily injury, no doubt. You should never lose a healthy respect for the “scariness” of guns, they’re no joke. But guns don’t just “go off,” the trigger must be pulled for the bullet to be fired. If you carry your gun in a safe, secure holster with a trigger cover and it’s secured to your body with a good, secure clip, your gun will not just “go off.” As for being unsafe, it’s much safer to have the gun on your body where you have complete control and quicker access to it than anywhere else. I don’t know any ladies who have their purses glued to their bodies at all times, and if there’s a gun in there, it certainly should be glued to you - ALWAYS. But life gets distracting, purses are bulky and uncomfortable, and it’s much too easy to lay it to our side at any given time. Some women simply forget the gun is in there, even if they swear they never would.
Almost any concealed weapon carrier will tell you that while it was scary to body carry in the beginning, it rather quickly becomes even scarier to carry without it. For me, it took just a few weeks of carrying every day to feel a sense of nakedness and vulnerability if I had to leave the house without it (to go to an airport, etc.). Take your time, and your comfort level will improve rather quickly if you stick to it.
Objection: Body carry is uncomfortable. I’m not going to lie – it’s an adjustment. You now have a big piece of metal attached to your waistband (or somewhere else) that wasn’t there before, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. There are far too many great options on the market today, both in terms of weapons and holsters, that you needn’t suffer.
It takes time to figure out where you are most comfortable carrying on your body (personally I carry inside my waistband at 2 o’clock), and it definitely takes some time to figure out which holster is best for you and your weapon. My strong recommendation is to get a weapon-specific holster (I like kydex and other hard materials molded for the gun) with a trigger cover. I carry where I do because I find it’s the most natural position for me to draw from quickly if I ever need to (and when I practice), and because I feel I have the most control. Someone can’t sneak up behind me and pull it from the small of my back; I don’t have to move a lot of clothes to access it (like the bra holsters or under arm holsters); and I don’t have to bend over to grab it from my leg.
Where on your body you carry is a personal decision, and the position may vary depending on the circumstances of where you’re going, who you’re with (if you have young children, for example), and what you’re wearing. I will admit that the plastic digs a little into my sensitive skin, so to get around this, I almost always wear a body-shaping tank (which plays double duty to smooth out some excess curves), and I’ve put moleskin on some of the holster’s edges to make it softer.
Similarly to the argument above about feeling less scared, the more you wear your gun and holster, the more comfortable you’ll be and the less you’ll notice the little annoyances – like lots of things in our lives, am I right?! And as long as you’ve got it on your body, your chances of getting to it when you need it increase tremendously, and that’s what owning and carrying a gun is all about: not about comfort, but about having it when you need it!
Objection: I don’t want to change my wardrobe., I hear women say this all the time when discussing conceal carry options. Really? Is it more important to look cute or is it more important to protect yourself and your family? If your answer if to look cute, then true conceal carry may not be for you, and that’s your prerogative, of course. But if your answer is to protect yourself and your family, then yes, I’m afraid you may have to sacrifice wearing the body-hugging tank top and fitted jeans. Conceal carry isn’t for the weak – it’s for the strong, determined and empowered woman. If you don’t feel that way yet, trust me – after a few weeks of consistent conceal carry and practice, you certainly will feel that way. And I’m not saying you can't look cute or have to turn into a frump or wear baggy tunics for the rest of your life. There are plenty of clothing options that can be really adorable and conceal well. But at some point, life is always going to be a give and take – and I’d rather give up my little tight clothes and take back my chances of survival.
There may be other objections to body carry that I’m sure I’ve missed, and I’m sure a lot of women will write me in support and justification of purse carry. But this much-too-realistic dream got me thinking, and it reinforced my strong advocacy for body carry. I hope it does the same for you…