Lessons from Plaxico Burress

I was watching ESPN this morning while doing Crossfit, and during the course of the workout they showed a few clips from an interview with Plaxico Burress, former NY Giants wide receiver.  For those not up to speed, Plaxico was convicted on Monday of felony firearms charges stemming from a negligent discharge he had in an NYC nightclub last year.  I think that it’s valuable for us as gun owners to revisit the incident and see what lessons can be gleaned from Plaxico’s experience.

  1. Don’t carry illegally: Plaxico did not have a New York carry permit for his pistol, and as such was in violation of the law by carrying his gun.  Seriously, don’t carry firearms illegally.
  2. Use a holster: during the interview I saw, Plaxico described the circumstances of his ND.  He said he was ascending a flight of stairs, and felt the gun slipping down his pants and sliding towards the ground.  He grabbed at the gun to keep it from hitting the ground, and got his finger into the trigger guard resulting in the “bang”.  Get a good holster and a good belt.
  3. Don’t try to catch a dropped gun: most modern firearms, such as Plaxico’s Glock are “drop safe”, meaning they can be dropped on a hard surface and not discharge.  If you drop your Glock/XD/Beretta, don’t do something dumb and try to catch it.  That leads to NDs.  Of course, if you carry a gun that isn’t drop safe, like a some com-bloc import Makarov or something, you should still NOT try and catch your gun, just pray a little harder as it heads to the ground.
  4. Seriously, get a good holster.

All illegalities of the situation aside for a moment (I assume we’re all smart enough to not carry illegally) the holster/belt issue is probably the best lesson to bring home out of this.  In the interview, Plaxico said he had the gun in his waistband, which we’d call Mexican-style carry, and as mentioned above it started slipping when he went up the stairs.

In IDPA, we have what’s called “the jump test” for holsters and ammo carriers.  Wearing your gun, you should be able to jump 3 inches in the air (toes off the ground) and land without your firearm getting dislodged by the movement.  If your carry rig doesn’t keep the firearm stable during this kind of extremely LIGHT psychical movement, then it’s not going to retain the gun properly if you have to run, jump, or perform strenuous movement often associated with fighting for your life. Get a good holster, and get a proper belt to wear it on.


  1. Good advice on using a suitable holster and belt. Where do you find a “3” jump test” in the IDPA rules? USPSA used to have a retention test quite some time back but they no longer do so.

  2. Why are you making sense? All of your posts that I’ve read make sense. So much of the pro-gun stuff I’ve found on the internet is paranoid nonsense. Thanks for this.

  3. I usually do a cartwheel test myself. If my carry rig can’t hold my gun when I take a tumble, it is even less good, because during a self-defense scenario where you have not drawn your firearm, you don’t want it to draw itself!

  4. True on all accounts. Still, Bloomberg is out to get anyone with a gun to make an example of them as is evidenced by his numerous lawsuits against out of state gun shops. Plaxico should have known better New York is well known to be hostile towards gun owners and should have kept his permit up.

  5. Yes, you should never carry a firearm illegally but have you ever tried to get a concealed carry license in NYC? Unless you have a credible death threat against you or are a celebrity NYPD is going to give you a very big “NO WAY IN HELL” stamp on your application. That and everytime you apply it costs $325. Who has that kind of money to just throw away?

  6. Rich, well, if I can think of one person who has that kind of money to throw around, it’d be a freakin’ professional football player.

  7. True Plaxico would have had no problem because A) He’s a celebrity and B) He’s got the cash. My problem is, I who has a CCW for his home state of Connecticut and works in NYC would never be approved for one. That’s my main complaint. He I am already approved by the Greenwich PD, Connecticut Office of Public Safety, and the FBI and even with all that there’s no way the NYPD would approve my application.

  8. Let’s also mention that piscols without manual safeties should always be carried in a holster.

  9. I wonder why Burress pled guilty instead of fighting? He’s got the money to drag it out, appealling on 2nd Amend grounds for years. In the meantime he could keep playing football, earning a lot more than the legal procedures would cost. Even if he eventually lost and had to do time, it would have been three or four years down the road, when his career would be, in all likelyhood, over regardless.

  10. when you’re a high profile celebrity sports star going out for a night of clubbing and your salary is in the stupid-money range, don’t carry a firearm at all and hire a bodyguard to carry one for you. the hit to your “street cred” is nothing compared to the hit to your wallet if your negligent discharge were to hit someone other than you. As it is, he’d have avoided the trip to the gray bar motel.

  11. If a person just has to carry a pistol then get a small caliber one that will fit in your pants pocket.

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