Where is the line drawn between “prepared” and “paranoid”? If you subscribe to operational ideas of Col. Jeff Cooper, you might have spent much of your life in “Condition White,” (a.k.a. “clueless bliss.”) But once you’re consciousness is raised and you begin to recognize that the world is not the safe place you imagined it to be, your next worry will be to figure out just how prepared you need to be, in order to stay safe. And that means you at least need to stop and think about how you should defend yourself and loved ones, at all times, in your home.
For the sake of this argument, lets presume that you’ve gone through some training, have earned your concealed carry permit. You’re now situationally-aware, carrying responsibly, and rigorously following all gun laws when you’re out with your sidearm. Very good. Now, how do you maintain that same level of protection when you’re relaxed, lying on your back or distracted while in your humble abode and how do you do it safely and discretely? Well, that’s a question that’s a lot more open-ended and difficult to answer definitively.
When you sand it down to bare wood, there are really only two questions to ask yourself regarding guns and home defense: access and safety. A gun you can’t access at a moments notice (which is, coincidently, usually the time thugs come knocking) is absolutely useless in terms of real world self-defense. Conversely, a gun you leave lying about where any Tom, Dick and toddler can gain access to it is a tragedy waiting to happen.
If you’ve looked at the safety issue, and you either have kids in the home or you realize that kids will visit from time to time, you probably decided that securing your weapons is a prudent idea. That usually means some form of gun safe. The problem is gun safes aren’t cheap and they usually get located in some kind of out-of-site area (read: walk-in closet) in your home. Additionally, most people I know buy a big gun safe and put their entire arsenal in it. That’s great and all, but how easy will it be to get to the guns should you have a break-in?
Let’s say you’re in your den and you hear someone breaking in the back door but you keep your gun safe in your closet in your bedroom—upstairs. Can you get to your gun safe, open it, grab a gun and be ready to defend you and yours in time? Seems like a tall order, if you ask me.
Go for Got your guns?
Of course, this also underlines the question, “have you evaluated your home from a defensive point of view?” Most homes are what security experts euphemistically refer to as “soft targets.” The only thing that prevents most homes from being burgled on a regular basis is the tissue-strength fabric of societal norms. If you’ve got lots of windows, dark places to hide around the perimeter, a secluded location and entry points not reinforced with steel doors/frames, guess what? When it comes to home defense, you are essentially pulling a Blanche DuBois—dependent upon the kindness of strangers.
But let’s say you’ve taken every reasonable step to secure the perimeter – an alarm system, motion detector lighting, steel doors & frames, that sort of thing. You keep a cell phone on your person, and might even carry a tactical flashlight and a tactical knife. (I do.) Swell. So now you can use your phone to call for help, the light to blind your attacker or find your way to your gun safe and your knife to fight your way to a firearm.
But wouldn’t it be easier/faster/smarter to just carry your gun around anytime you’re not in the bed or in the shower?
Probably. But it can also end up being a little socially inconvenient, especially if you have kids in a lot of extra-curricular activities, which is something you will have to fight against and prepare for, if you are going to carry in the home.
The Scarlet C-C-W
It seems today that if you mention to a gun ignorant parent that you have a concealed carry permit or open carry, it’s very likely you’ll get back a strange look, uncomfortable silence or at worst hear Brady Bunch talking points parroted back at you. Such is the case in a country that is losing touch with the tools used to make it grand. But ironically, what I found really gives people who know little to nothing about firearms the shivers is if you mention you keep guns for defense in your home (where these folks think they should be stored is another question entirely). Despite the fact that these Constitutionally protected tools are secured in your home for the express purpose of saving lives, nothing seems to give hand-wringing moms and dads more incentive to contact CPS than the thought of one of their brood getting their untrained mitts on a loaded gun in your house.
I (and I’m guessing you as well) try to emphasize and teach common sense over fear and superstition. I’m of the belief that a gun is tool. It’s not good or bad. It just is. A gun is no more dangerous than, say, a Skil saw or a ladder (and possibly a lot less dangerous, if you consider the you are more likely to meet your maker in a non transportation related accident than courtesy of a gun). It’s all how you use it.
I know some purists out there will respond that they simply won’t allow their children to associate with families who hold prejudice against gun owners and I guess that is one solution. But what if that gun-hating parent is also your sister-in-law? What if it is your kid’s football coach? What if it’s their best friends’ parents? For a parent, the many hats you have to wear complicates attractive yet hard-line positions like this considerably and when it comes to carrying at home, it doesn’t seem to matter if your tactics are right or wrong, the reality is people and perhaps even your family is going to wonder if you’re a few clowns short of a circus by packing’ heat in the hacienda.
Simply put, the home carrier is just going to have to get comfortable with some level of social stigma from the uneducated, lest you’ll find yourself needlessly pleading a case to stubborn people that’s already been made. Ask yourself this, do you want to be “right” or do you want you and your family to be safe and happy? Sideways glances may be annoying, but the moment you have some thugs break down your door and invade your home, keeping your gun with you doesn’t look like such a crazy idea does it?
More magnetic solutions
But let’s say carrying at home just isn’t your thing. There is another solution. It’s not ideal, and not recommended if you have older kids in your home, but it does offer up a viable solution to the problem. The concept is known as “fast access.” In a fast access scenario, you secure your guns in a variety of locations around your home. Essentially, you want a gun in every room (or most of them), so you don’t have to keep on you, or run back to your bedroom/safe room just to get to a weapon.
Depending on the weapon, you may need to come up with some creative ways to conceal or secure them. There are a number of companies that offer industrial-strength magnets mounted to plates that will allow you to secure a gun, say, to the wall, inside and above a closet door. This would give you fast access, and keep the guns away from the small children (few kids could reach them high enough on the wall, or be able to pull the gun off these magnets, even if they could get to them). Some companies offer wall safes disguised as picture frames or shadowboxes. Or if you’ve got the financial wherewithal to handle it, buy a number of biometric handgun safes and scatter them throughout your home.
Ultimately, the question of carrying at home is an intensely personal one. Keeping a gun on you gives you immediate access, and eliminates the problem of kids having the same kind of access that you do. But carrying at home requires a level of dedication that many find to be too much for the likelihood that you’d ever need it. So a realistic risk assessment is part and parcel of any home defense strategy. If you believe the odds are small that you’d ever suffer an attack, plan accordingly. If you don’t live in Mayberry, perhaps a defense strategy is in the cards. Should that include home carry? That’s up to you, but if it doesn’t, just remember that a gun you can’t get to in an emergency is no better than no gun at all.