It’s hardly breaking news that Americans love their cars. Currently, there are around 255 million registered passenger vehicles in the US, and the average American drives somewhere around 30 miles a day. While urban dwellers may have public transport readily available, most of us spend a fair amount of time driving. That time behind the wheel requires some different considerations for those of us who CCW. A different set of carry techniques, tactics, and safety requirements come to the fore, and they warrant some thought and planning.
As always, the first step is knowing your state’s laws for CCW and the transport of firearms in vehicles. The requirements for what and how you may carry and what you should do while interacting with law enforcement vary; make sure you’re up to speed. Second, let’s address the question of safely storing firearms in a car. The odds that you’ll need to do so are pretty good—most of us occasionally visit places that don’t permit CCW. Make sure your weapon is locked down when you leave it in your car. Arming a criminal or enabling an accident is something we should all avoid.
Now we come to the interesting part: the tactics of vehicle carry. There are broadly two main schools of thought: those who espouse carrying as normal and practicing drawing, presenting, and shooting the weapon from a seated position, and those who prefer a dedicated holster or scabbard for the firearm inside the vehicle and transitioning between them as you enter and exit the car.
As with so many other things in the world of firearms, there is no clear answer, as both have their strengths and weaknesses. Carrying as normal offers consistency, keeping the firearm in the same place on your person, but requires you to practice an additional set of skills in drawing the weapon. Having a dedicated holster in the car—between the seats, under the seat, under the dash, etc—while likely make the weapon a lot easier to access should you need it. However, this approach means you’ll have to draw and re-holster the weapon upon entering and exiting the vehicle. You can see the issues here: more exposure, the chance of accidentally leaving the weapon in the car, reaching for the wrong holster under pressure. Training and practice can mitigate most of these worries, but they need to be kept in mind.
Whatever you choose, make sure your weapon is both secure and accessible, and that you’ve practiced drawing and presenting it. If possible, practice with the vehicle in a garage or at least out of sight of passers-by. It would be very easy for an uninformed party to mis-interpret what you’re doing. Likewise, practice with a dummy weapon if possible, or a least triple-check that your piece is clear. Firearms safety is paramount, so don’t become a statistic.
There’s a lot more to be said on the subject: defensive driving tactics for CCWers, shooting from within the vehicle, how to handle a carjacking. We’ll be digging into those in other articles, so stay tuned and stay safe out there!