While I’m not a parent, I do have a couple of nieces and nephews I spend a lot of time with and whom I occasionally end up babysitting. I love kids, and I love spending time with them. However, over the course of a weekend with one particular rugrat, I had an epiphany about how being a caregiver to a small child or infant affects self-defense and concealed carry.
Executive Summary: it makes things a lot more complicated.
The good news is that it doesn’t make things impossible. Based on my own experiences and the conversations I’ve had with parents in the same boat, here are some tips to help you keep yourself and your little one safe.
First, foremost, and always: practice safe gun handling and gun storage at all times around children of any age. This is most likely a legal requirement where you live, but it bears mention. Kids get into everything, they’re as stealthy as any ninja that’s ever lived and they’re fast like greased lightning. Keep your firearms secured at all times around children—there are no excuses.
It’s important that this becomes second nature, because kids demand a lot of attention—all of your attention, in fact. So much so that it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of what’s going on around you. We’ve written extensively about the importance of situational awareness, and having a miniature human under your care presents some additional challenges. These are not insurmountable, so take a deep breath, pace yourself, and keep an eye on your surroundings even while feeding the baby or struggling to juggle both the stroller and the diaper bag.
Which leads me to my next point: everything and anything will take much longer when a small child is involved. This makes it easy to get frustrated, and thus make mistakes. Carry systems that you trust and a way to safely store a firearm in a vehicle are both must-haves, and you should drill on using them both until it becomes second nature. This will avoid potentially dangerous and embarrassing faux pas like leaving your CCW on top of the car after wrangling the child inside.
So what kind of carry system is best for someone with a small child or baby in tow? That’s tough to answer. Women are most often the primary caregivers, and finding good concealed carry holsters that work with women’s clothing is already a challenge. Carrying in a purse or bag has obvious limitations, and it is probably best to keep your gun on your person. So to that end it’s hard to make blanket recommendations. You’ll need to experiment, find something that works for you, and incorporate it into your practice drills.
Yes, kids are time consuming. Yes, you still need to run practice drills regularly. No excuses, find time to make it happen.
CCW makes for a great and more secure lifestyle—but there’s a lot more to keeping a child safe and healthy than staying armed and alert. Knowing the basics of first aid and CPR for children and infants is a must, and I recommend getting in touch with your local Red Cross to learn how to do that.
I hope this helps you balance the care of a small child with the need for self-defense. If you’re a parent who regularly carries concealed, chime in with the comment section and tell us about your experiences. You might be a big help to someone else getting started on their journey as a parent.