Friday, October 06, 2006

Concealed Carry and the Auto (or Truck)

I read a topic in a forum which questioned how best to carry in one's favored mode of transportation. The premise was that the normal, on the body, carry method was both uncomfortable in the car (and not sitting at your desk, behind a table eating?) and the gun was inaccessible so where and how does one carry in the car? Rather how does the CAR carry your "concealed" handgun? Of course, I've got some thoughts on this.

First, let us acknowledge that the reason one has a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP in VA) is to permit one to carry without unduly alarming the average person and without alerting the criminal to your extra ability for self defense. The surprise factor that one can use from drawing a concealed and heretofore unknown weapon on a criminal can in and of itself cause cessation of the crime without the necessity of shooting the criminal. This is an advantage that shouldn't be willingly or easily discarded.

Lets move on to concealed carry on the body. Every body is different. Different shape and measurements of length, girth, etc. Each person needs to find the most comfortable AND secure method of carry for their body. Trends, fads, status and fashion have no place. You either want to carry a handgun concealed or you don't. It is either considered a necessity or it isn't. Now, presuming you've done that, i.e. found the most comfortable and secure method of carry for you, let's move on...

Let's go out to the car. What's the first thing you notice about your car/truck/van/SUV? It is big, much bigger than you and it weighs more than you do, many times more. Likely it weighs many times more than an attacker who is outside the vehicle. That's pretty important to my view of the situation posited. You see, once you get in the vehicle and the doors are locked it becomes a weapon. One with the advantage of mobility. You can flee in the vehicle. You can push aside an attacker who isn't in a vehicle of his/her own. You may be able avoid injury simply by rolling up the windows although that depends on the attacker and on what vehicle you have. In any case a gun becomes even more of a last resort for self defense. So, lets move to those scenarios in which the vehicle is breached, stopped, and the attacker is in the vehicle or somehow forces you from the vehicle.

Well in any scenario in which the last circumstance is true, that you've been forced from the vehicle, you are simply out of luck (SOL) if you've unholstered and let the car carry for you. You likely will not have access to gun and will have to use other more inventive and improvisational methods of self defense. The "car carry" is looking pretty bad at this point, isn't it?

OK, so you're still in the car but so is the attacker. WHICH of you is closer to the gun? Which has easier access? Can you employ the gun on the attacker? Would it be better for you to flee the attacker (and now of course you're out of the vehicle, with or without the gun). Look at your vehicle. Imagine the attacker in every seat position. How would it actually play out? Be honest. Would you be able to maintain control of the gun and employ it against your attacker?

Let's look at it a different way. Remember, this is concealed carry. It isn't sometimes concealed or open carry. It is carrying a weapon/handgun such that nobody knows you have it. Now, when you get in the vehicle you have to unholster the gun and put it elsewhere. Can somebody look into your vehicle to observe this? Do you have to do it outside the vehicle in order to reach the selected stow point on the vehicle? And then when you get out of the vehicle you have to reholster. Another opportunity for somebody to see that you are carrying concealed. Remember, it doesn't have to be a "bad guy" that can burn you and make your day a pain in the rear. Any concerned citizen could report your behavior to the police. You can bet that a "man/woman with a gun" report will be promptly answered. Do this outside a commercial building, bank, store or some such and you might have a very unpleasant experience despite your CHP permit/license. And remember, that this public (VERY public) exposure "makes" you as well. Who knows who will stop and gawk at the sight of the police taking down the man with a gun? You don't and it could be a bad thing indeed. Remember, if the criminal knows you carry he's now got an advantage that was formerly yours.

The other thing that bothers me is that every time you unholster the gun, every time you load, unload, or manipulate the gun, you increase the possibility that something will go wrong. I don't care who you are, if you handle a mechanical object often enough you will make a mistake. Making a mistake with a gun can have some irreversable consequences beyond mere embarrassment. Add to this that you might be in a hurry to get in, or out of, your vehicle to get wherever it is you must be going and you increase the odds of something unpleasant happening.

So, what do I recommend? I recommend that you learn some evasive driving techniques, that you carry on your person from before you leave the house until you walk back into the house, and that you never unholster your gun unless you absolutely must to go into a prohibited zone or to turn your gun over to a police officer. If this means that you need to change holsters (even expensive holsters) and how you dress and how comfortable you are when driving, I think you should do so. Or, you can give up concealed carry...

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