FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Editor's Notebook: Is Pocket Carry Safe?

Glock 43/Streamlight TLR-6 in "Pocket Protector" by Simply Rugged Holsters.
A news story was making the rounds about a youngster who contrived to fire a pistol while it was in his pocket. The story, from the Tulsa World news site gave the following information: " . . . a 25-year-old certified reserve deputy, was not on duty when he went to the restaurant for dinner with his Colt Mustang .380-caliber pistol in a pocket holster. "According to a police report, the weapon "went off on its own accord" about 8:30 p.m. as [he] was leaving the restaurant . . ." There was some discussion about potential causes for the gun to go "off on its own accord." According to the MacMillan Dictionary Online, to do something of your own accord is to "do something without being asked, forced, or helped by someone else." Is it possible for a Colt Mustang .380-caliber pistol to fire "without being asked, forced, or helped by someone else?" Asking the gun won't do it, but it can be compelled to fire by human actions. Specifically, I'd suggest that the object of the exercise was trying to become familiar with the pistol – perhaps new to the user, perhaps only recently obtained and seldom or never before carried in a pocket. A number of commentators observed it could have been a 'cheap holster' or that the youngster carried the gun and holster in a pocket with other items. I don't know. They don't know and it's all conjecture. I'd have been checking the pistol-packer's hand for evidence of having fired a gun, if I'd been tasked with the investigation. Why? I'm unaware of firearms having decision making capabilities and not sure how it would have fired absent being (1) loaded and cocked, (2) manual safety off, and (3) trigger pressed (or impinged upon). It's possible that it was in a fabric-type pocket holster into which the reserve's trigger finger could inhabit along with the gun and he had a "moment" -- fidgeting with a gun in his pocket because he's new to all of this, and – bang!
Insert gun into holster, THEN put the holstered gun into the pocket.
But that's all guesswork. The typical LE administration's response would be to look at banning pocket carry by regulars and reserves. That's no solution. They're big boys and girls: let them know the deal, make them aware of the pros and cons of that form of carry and warn them that people like to fidget with new guns and/or guns that are new to them. Considering pocket carry, there are a few rules. As AIWB holster impresario Spencer Keepers noted on his Keepers Concealment Facebook page, "When using a pocket for carrying your gun. The gun must be in a "holster" that completely covers the trigger guard and NOTHING else goes in that pocket ... Nothing else." I'd add that the gun goes into the holster, index finger held away from the gun, and with everything covering a safe direction. Then – and only then – the holstered handgun goes into the pocket. While the holstered handgun is in your pocket, if you take a grip on the gun, keep your trigger finger outside of the holster: with some fabric-style holsters, you can get your finger inside with the gun.
Different holster designs for varying trouser/pocket types from Pocket Concealment Systems.
Don't do it. Or you'll end up like the deputy, surprised by a sudden noise. Pocket holsters are available from BLACKHAWK!, , Pocket Concealment Systems, Safariland/Bianchi and Simply Rugged Holsters, among others. Selecting the right rig for the particular handgun, for your type of trousers (you did know that different pant styles have different pocket types, right?) and for your intended purpose takes some thought. The information's out there. It's not complicated and it's not dangerous – any more so than any other carry style. -- Rich Grassi