Not long ago, my daughter who is a third year medical student and I planned to dine at a nice restaurant which is co-located in a busy area along with other restaurants and fast food businesses. We were in a diesel one ton ranch pickup equipped with a massive front bumper concealing a 12,000 pound pull winch. As we walked from the parking lot toward the restaurant I spotted a short haired and physically fit white male, about 35 years of age, carrying what looked to be a small military ruck. This bag was large enough to carry several handguns, ammunition, flashbangs, and tear gas or similar. The W/M was striding purposefully across the restaurant parking lot, heads up and alert. I had noticed a police car nearby with no one in it. Was an off duty tactical officer responding to an incident?
I alerted my daughter and asked her to watch everything but this man so that I could focus on what he was doing. The daughter has a baby Glock and an old High Standard .22 magnum derringer. As we quickly moved out of the open parking lot back toward the big ranch truck. I asked what she was carrying. To my surprise I learned because she was with me, she left her weapons in her apartment. Such trust.
In light of recent active shooter events, it might be prudent to revisit the topic of everyday carry. By everyday carry I’m not specifically referring to a pistol but include it as a subset of everyday carry.
Pilots have a saying that during the takeoff roll, nothing is more worthless than the runway behind the airplane, in flight nothing is so worthless as the fuel back at the airport, and in case of engine malfunction, nothing is as worthless as altitude above the airplane. I suppose a corollary might include that nothing is so worthless as the weapon left at home.
Years ago, I gave the ladies in my life, that is my wife of several decades and my only daughter, .22 magnum High Standard derringers and baby Glocks. The wife’s Glock was stolen and because of her small hands, replaced with the old and proven Walther PPK in the albeit anemic .380ACP round. I’ve always liked the thin and powerful High Standard derringer and almost always carry one in my pocket. Of course I had it with me in the parking lot. Not much use against an active shooter but it would have been oh so much better than a rock or a stick. And, as my best daughter knew, I also had with me what she calls my ‘man purse.’
Having noticed a vacant police car in the lot of a nearby fast food restaurant, I was alert for dismounted officer(s). The man striding across the parking lot had a cop or military look. Were an active shooter nearby, uniformed responders would be expected to park out of sight of the incident and tactical first responders, even those off duty would be tasked. This fit one scenario that ran through my mind. I was more worried this man was about to become an active shooter.
My dear daughter has been shielded from life’s more sordid experiences. Her thoughts were on a nice evening with her father and wonderful food; anything and everything except becoming a homicide victim. The police car put me on low alert; the man with the small military style ruck put me on high alert.
Let’s review. Most importantly, I was aware of my surroundings and armed. The police car caused me to look for law enforcement presence and then I noticed a man carrying a military style bag. I tasked my daughter to watch our surroundings, thus increasing our collective situational awareness as we retreated away from the man toward my heavy truck. This vehicle offered concealment and some cover but most important, mobility. The truck could be used for either rapid escape or as a weapon itself. Had an active shooter taken cover behind one of the many smaller cars in the parking lot, one possible resolution might have been for me to ram that vehicle with my large truck, crushing the shooter between adjacent cars. Nevertheless, immediate retreat alone might have saved us from an active shooter. I assessed our tactical situation and determined the daughter had no weapons. Had the situation deteriorated, I would have given her my High Standard. At this point we would have been better prepared to deal with unhappiness than almost everyone in range (although being in Amarillo, Texas the biggest danger might have been with crossfire as armed citizens responded proactively).
What then was in my man purse that caused the daughter to foolishly leave her weapons behind? My ‘man purse’ is a medium size innocent looking bag that one might use to carry a camera and accessories. In this bag I carry a SIG P220 in .45ACP along with six magazines, a laser pointer and light for the pistol, a Surefire flashlight, spare CR123 batteries for the laser pointer/light and flashlight, a magnetic compass, fire steel and tinder, small Leica digital camera, flexicuffs, spare eyeglasses, Leica monocular, a magnifying glass, a small amount of money and duplicate identification, part of a chainsaw blade terminated with 1” diameter key rings, a tactical knife, a small razor blade type knife, blood clot and tactical tourniquet, custom Widex tactical hearing aids (if you’ve ever heard a .357 magnum fired inside a small room then you know of what I’m speaking), a hank of 550 cord, and spare keys.
When women became plainclothes law enforcement investigators, the problem of how to conceal a pistol and handcuffs was evident. Most women I know in that role end up carrying a purse especially made for the purpose. Weapon retention is always a problem for law enforcement and each year a few cops get killed with their own weapons. A purse always presents certain vulnerabilities and a perennially popular method amongst big city purse snatchers is to approach the victim from behind and cut the strap with a razor. Very bad things can happen if you carry a pistol in your purse and loose control of that purse. Situational awareness is the only sure method of retention. I repeat, regardless of whether you carry a pistol in a ‘man purse’ or in ladies purse, you must never, never, loose control of that bag. Your life may depend upon it.
So what happened in the parking lot? After a few anxious moments, the man moved beyond the food complex area and passed out of sight. Who he was, where he was going, and what he was up to, thankfully I never learned. What I do know was that he was physically fit, highly alert, and was carrying a bag similar to what I used to carry in the past. As a fellow bag carrier, he represented what could have become lethal danger. Unlike the other restaurant goers, I saw a potential problem, reacted sensibility and in so doing, taught a smart but foolish daughter an important lesson.