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P1 Exclusive: No excuses to not carry

Career Survival
with Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith

As of September 1, 2008, five American police officers have been shot and killed while off duty. This is an issue that both my husband and I write and teach about extensively, and in the Street Survival Seminar all of the instructors encourage attendees to be prepared off duty as well as on duty, and that includes being armed when you're not at work. During the seminar, our unofficial poll reveals that about one third to one half of the officers attending carry an off duty firearm (this varies regionally). As someone who carries a gun just about everywhere but in the shower, I began to study why someone, anyone, who is legally allowed to carry a firearm would choose not to do so.
Fellow cops gave me many reasons, including the close proximity of kids, the objection of a spouse, the desire to be "totally off-the-clock" when not at work, and the "I don't want to have to get involved" mentality, to name just a few. But one of the most consistent issues I hear from the officers I talk to is this: it's just too difficult to carry a gun in my off duty attire. This was especially true for women, but many men expressed difficulty concealing a weapon as well, especially in warmer climates. Let's face it, there are times in all of our lives where the standard ankle, belt, or shoulder holster just isn't practical.
Well, give me a mission and I'm on it! I looked into numerous off-duty products designed to carry a gun and conceal it well, all while looking good doing it. I even got involved in a project that will help you better train yourself and your family to respond in an off duty incident.

Conceal Carry Clothing for Men and Women

Smith and Wesson Apparel got together with Wilson Leather and designed a beautiful black leather motorcycle jacket for men and women with ambidextrous conceal carry pockets. The pockets have a magnetic lock for a quiet draw and the left chest in embroidered with the S&W so subtly that someone would have to be within 4 inches of you to notice it. I own the ladies version and I took it to the range and practiced drawing and firing both a small revolver and a small automatic out of each side with no problems on either side. It's the perfect conceal carry jacket and can be dressed up or dressed down and it's extremely reasonably priced.
Coronado Leather makes a great line of conceal carry products including handbags, outerwear, even carry cases that look like a day planner or a wallet. They have leather jackets, leather vests, and my favorite, a beautiful leather backpack. Take a hint guys: for our wedding anniversary, Dave presented me with a special edition Bison leather conceal carry handbag that can be worn as a shoulder bag or on your belt. Again, I took it to the range and it's an easy and stable draw from the bag, and it looks beautiful! Coronado has great customer service and they tailor each item to your specific handgun.
For the women out there, as we talk about in the "Street Survival" seminar, if you're going to carry your gun in your purse, make it a purse designed specifically for that purpose.

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