When shopping for a new pair of pants while armed, Jennifer wanted to know how other people handle the dressing room. Good question! Here’s what I do.
First, the rules: I do not leave the firearm unattended, even for a brief moment while I step out of the stall to look in the mirror. Also, I do not unnecessarily remove the firearm from its protective covering, which is my secure holster.
I didn’t used to be quite so … emphatic … about that first point. What harm could it do if I took six steps away from the gun? After all, it would be completely out of sight, inside its secure holster and hidden either inside my purse or under a pile of discarded clothing. I would literally be six steps away at most, and would certainly see anyone stepping into my room. How could that possibly cause a problem? Nobody could get into my dressing room stall without me seeing them, so no big deal… I thought.
My thinking changed the day someone’s rowdy three-year-old went galumphing at full speed into my stall while I was looking at the mirror just a few steps away, grabbed my pile of clothes and started throwing them out the door behind her. Of course I saw her running in, so I immediately dropped what I was doing and went to shoo her out (and then the child’s nasty obnoxious mom gave me a cussing-out for daring to tell her child what to do, when I asked her nicely to leave my things alone, not that I’m bitter or anything but really, lady, just control your sprog…) Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes. After that, I realized that leaving the gun out of my direct control was simply not good enough in this poorly controlled public space. Or around other people’s poorly controlled children.
The procedure is: leaving the firearm inside its protective holster, I remove the holster from my belt and place the whole thing into my purse. If I don’t have a purse with me that’s large enough, I set the holstered gun on the bench underneath the first item of spare clothing I can grab.
Change pants and look in the stall mirror.
If the pants make the first cut, it’s time for the second test: I put my belt on and slide my holster into place. Check the stall mirror. If it passes, then it’s out into the hallway, with gun still in place on my belt, for the distance check.
Yes, this implies I get completely dressed for the distance check in the three-way mirror, including whatever cover garments I need. Pain in the backside, but hardly the end of the world.
I can’t expose my waistband in the hallway mirror if there are people around. So I either wait until people are gone, or I check it in the stall mirror before stepping out, or (if there is no stall mirror and no sign of the crowd thinning out even for a moment), I sometimes leave the holstered gun in my purse and carry my purse with me into the hallway. Also, of course, it’s not that hard to gather up the loose ends of the cover shirt in one hand, holding it just over the holstered gun, so you can see all of the waistband except the holster itself. Whatever works.
What? Try on pants that won’t let me carry concealed? No way! It’s one thing to have a relic left over in my closet from the days before I cared about my safety, but now? Uh uh, no way. I refuse to buy clothing that won’t help me protect myself. If it doesn’t pass the “it can take a belt and can help conceal the holster” test, it stays in the store.