Most agencies forbid carrying a gun when under the influence of alcohol, which may mean even one drink. We all get this. But, where the law allows, wouldn’t it be wise to do what we already do when we’re going somewhere to consume alcohol? That is, just as we have a non-drinking Designated Driver, have a Designated Defender carrying a gun and not consuming alcohol? Perhaps even the same individual?

But none of that encompasses explaining departments where only a few of those authorized to carry do so. Department culture is a part of it. If the old heads all carry off duty, more of the younger ones will. But street police work is a younger person’s game, and law enforcement trends toward early retirement, leaving relatively fewer of those old cops still working and influencing the new ones.

Social trends create a complicated subtext, too. In recent years, anti-police rhetoric in the media and elsewhere has made police work less desirable. We’re simply not seeing as many qualified applicants as we used to. With a smaller candidate base from which to select, law enforcement has to take more people who see it as “just a job.” Many of those candidates weren’t gun people to start, don’t particularly like guns, and won’t carry one unless they have to. The anti-police mentality has also resulted in more anti-gun chiefs being appointed by politicians, and anti-gun chiefs don’t foster a “be ready at all times” attitude.