Recently, I was doing some research for another article and came across the account of an officer losing his handgun during a felony traffic stop. It went like this: the officer, knowing the suspects were dangerous, took his revolver out of his holster and stuck it under his right thigh so it would be handy when he quickly exited the vehicle. The only problem was that the suspects refused to stop, and the officer rammed their car and drive them off the road. At the impact, the officer’s gun went flying and he couldn’t find it. Fortunately, he had a backup revolver to use in the ensuing gunfight.
While this was obviously a real mistake, armed citizens are often frustrated with getting to their handgun while in a vehicle, dealing with the seat belt and covering garment. If a person spends a lot of time in their vehicle, it may be a good idea to explore the possibilities of a shoulder holster, or carrying in crossdraw or appendix mode.
Others choose to have a designated car gun, one that is secreted in the vehicle and much easier to get to while buckled in behind the steering wheel. Several different devices are offered to secure the defensive handgun in the car and one just has to examine them to see what works best for the individual.
The biggest mistake is to just have the gun loosely stashed in the car. Stuffed between the seat and the console, lying under the driver’s seat, or lying on the passenger seat while covered by a towel, are all a mistake. Those of us who have been in a car wreck know that stuff really gets to flying around on impact. Under these circumstances, if you get rammed by a crook, there’s no telling where that gun will end up.
Finally, if you have a designated car gun, it needs to be secured from unauthorized people getting their hands on it. That means adults or children who may become passengers. But it also means it should be secure from theft. A gun left in an unattended vehicle is not a secure gun, and your vehicle is not a safe.
Obviously, dealing with guns in the vehicle is a complex subject that isn’t solved by one simple answer. The smart defensive shooter will have to give this some serious thought to determine what works in their particular vehicle. Safety and security must be the overriding concerns.
A version of this article appeared in Shooting Illustrated.