I am often asked about different methods of carrying personal firearms. Lately, one specific topic comes up - Vehicle Carry and different methods of safe carry while driving.
So for the sake of this blog, let's presume it is legal for you to have a loaded gun where you live and that you have the required permits. Know your state and local laws and NEVER cross state lines with a loaded gun unless you are certain it is legal to do so.
I am also referring to loaded handguns. In many states, including here in PA, it is illegal to have a loaded long gun in you vehicle. I am personally not in favor of a dedicated handgun for my vehicle, but to each his own. If you have one, it is imperative that it is hidden and locked away when you leave your vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen, you are responsible for potentially putting your gun in the hands of a criminal. If you accidentally leave you car unlocked, you could be responsible for a curious child getting their hands on your gun. That's a lot to consider.
Never drive with an unsecured gun. Specifically, do not put your gun under the floor mat or on the seat next you. The gun can slide away and it will be hard to resist the temptation to grab at it. That is an accident waiting to happen. So is getting you gun jammed by the accelerator or having it bunch up your floor mat and doing the same thing. Secure your gun in a holster, center console or door pocket. Muzzle awareness is critical. The gun cannot point at yourself or a passenger.
Keeping your sidearm on your body is presumably the best option. There is a caveat here as well about muzzle control: Depending upon your method of carry, it may be next to impossible to draw your gun without muzzling yourself. Dry fire practice with your gun in its holster until you know the gun can be safely drawn. If you cannot draw your gun without pointing the gun at yourself, do not carry it on your body while driving. Outside the waist band will be the safest as long as the holster does not interfere with your seat belt.
If I am going to be driving any distance, or if I am going to drive through what I consider an "unsafe" neighborhood, I remove my pistol from my holster discretely before entering my truck and put it in a holster that is mounted to my center console. I feel that I can draw my gun much quicker this way. When I reach my destination, I remove the gun from the console and discretely put it back on my belt AFTER I have exited the vehicle. Sometimes that means stopping around the corner from my destination or going to a less busy area of a parking lot. I tend to park away from other vehicles anyway to minimize door dings. The lesson here is to never muzzle yourself while unholstering or holstering your sidearm. This is almost impossible while seated in most vehicles - you need to perform this while standing next to your vehicle and use your open door as a screen from other people. Remember the 4 universal gun safety rules: All guns are loaded, keep your finger off the trigger, never cross your muzzle over anything you are not willing to kill or destroy, and be aware of what is around your target.
I personally know an experienced firearm owner that shot himself in the calf. He has a resume that included three tours in Iraq as an operator. After he was discharged from service and back home, he was driving on a long car trip and his inside the waistband pistol was digging in to him. As he was driving, he removed his pistol and went to stash it under his seat. He hit a big bump in the road, his finger was on the trigger, and he put a hole in his calf and through the floor of his car. He knew better. It still happened. Do not take anything for granted and never take your safety lightly!
Jim Benoit's thoughts on guns, gear, & training
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