Violence. There are many elements to violence. Violence is a chaos system and it is exceedingly unpredictable. There are very few consistencies in violence. However, there is one thing that is almost universal to violence:
It happens fast.
The vast majority of violent crime happens very quickly. Criminals don’t send memos several days, hours, minutes, or even seconds prior to their victims’ warning of attack. Violent attacks happen with little, if any, warning. This consistency is apparent regarding active killer attacks as well. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes hide their intentions until the shooting starts, and at that point, there is no time.
The idea of keeping a long gun in the vehicle is very appealing to a lot of people due to the undeniable superiority of long guns over handguns in terms of ballistic performance and hit potential. At first glance, the idea of keeping a rifle in the vehicle seems like an obvious choice in the midst of the heightened threat profile the citizen faces in our contemporary world. The problem remains, however, that the utility of a rifle kept in the vehicle must be weighed against the potential for it to get stolen. For those naive enough to think that can’t happen to them, do some research. An inordinate amount of firearms are stolen from vehicles annually. It does not only happen in cities either.
The environment that one lives and works in often dictates how useful a truck gun is. For example, somebody who lives and works in a rural environment, in the fields or woods, likely has a significant need for a rifle on almost a daily basis. However, people who live and operate within urban and suburban environments likely don’t need the long gun for anything short of extreme violence perpetrated by a greater-than-usual threat. Therefore, the obvious question should be, is keeping the gun in the vehicle worth it? Would it make a difference? Would there be time to get to it?
In the urban and suburban environment, the long gun would factor into defense against a large-scale attack on a public place by single or multiple heavily armed individuals. However, how realistic is the ability to deploy the long gun from the vehicle in such a circumstance? If you find yourself taken by surprise in a public place, will you have the time to flee the location and make it to the vehicle? If you are near your vehicle and something happens in a public space, will you access the gun and go towards the threat with it? Thus far in our collective experience, there have, indeed, been incidents in which armed citizens with rifles have interdicted mass murderers, but this has involved people who are in their homes at the time with a rifle available. Accessing a gun from the vehicle when out in public is a different dynamic.
There is no Time.
There are multiple examples of police officers ambushed while in their duty cruiser, who were unable to deploy the shotgun or rifle they had above the visor or between them in the cab of the car because there was no time. When dealing with sudden violence, a long gun in the cabin of the vehicle is often inaccessible, so how accessible would a gun in the trunk or under the back seat be? Dealing with a sudden attack, such as a carjacking, is entirely the realm of the concealed carry pistol. A long gun in the trunk or elsewhere in the vehicle might as well be on the moon at the moment that the criminal element ambushes the intended victim. Typical criminal predation is dealt with through the use of the concealed pistol.
However, is a truck gun more viable for use against active shooters or other terrorist attacks? Perhaps. Consider this: if you find yourself at the scene of the attack, how realistic is it to get to the vehicle to access the long gun? Think of the most recent active killer attack at the time of this writing, in which a lone attacker with a rifle walked into a bowling alley in Maine. If you were in that bowling alley, would you be able to run out to your vehicle, access the rifle, and run back inside? How many people would be killed in that time duration? If you are there with your family, will you run out without them and grab the rifle, then run back in? Thinking this through should lead one to conclude that such a threat is still a handgun issue.
The idea of going up against a threat with a rifle while armed only with your carry pistol is frightening, but the handgun-armed defender has done it many times and prevailed. Statistically, the armed defender with only a pistol prevails the vast majority of the time. When such attacks happen, there is no time, and the handgun you are wearing is the weapon that you will fight with. It can certainly be done, so train for it.
Going Towards the Fight
Now, consider that if you are in the vehicle when something nearby kicks off, that might be quite different. If you are in the parking lot of the mall and armed assailants start shooting the place up, you have quick access to your rifle in the truck. So, now what? You grab your rifle and rush inside to put the bad guys down, right? The problem with this response should be fairly obvious. If you grab your rifle to interdict bad guys with rifles, and you are all mixing it up in the same location, how does that look to responding law enforcement or concealed carriers on the scene? Do bad guys wear a uniform that says “bad guy” in large orange letters? Carrying a rifle instantly puts a target on your back. The unfortunate outcome of the event in Colorado, in which the heroic armed citizen, Johnny Hurley, killed a rifle-armed attacker who was shooting police officers, teaches us a lot. After stopping the killer, Hurley picked up the rifle that the killer was using for some reason. Hurley was then mistakenly killed by responding officers. This tragic event points to an obvious issue:
First responders and armed citizens alike are going to immediately presume that anyone holding a rifle at the scene of an active shooting is a bad guy. Why would they not? If you were in a public location and shooting started, with people screaming and running around, and then a guy holding a rifle walks into the space, what would you do? The long gun provides an enormous ballistic and accuracy advantage, but holding it during such an event is bad for your life expectancy. Again, interdicting active killers remains a handgun problem.
There well may be a role for a long gun kept in the vehicle, but it certainly needs to be secured in some kind of safe or lock to keep it out of the hands of a smash-and-grab thief. There is also good reason to keep a long gun quickly accessible at home. However, the notion of deploying a long gun from your vehicle to interdict active killers or terrorists is fraught with issues. Think it through and act accordingly.