Being in the midst of a big project for my day job, I had to curtail most of my plans to travel about (notably to a coffee shop) today. Frankly, most of my – ha ha – “spare” time was spent trying to figure out why our power went out in my man cave. (Turned out to be a faulty transformer on the pole. My luck.) So rather than look for my IWB holster in the dark, I decided to work on the concept of concealment for my car. Well…Jeep, actually.

I’ve currently two vehicles – my (paid for) 1997 Jeep Wrangler ragtop, and my late father’s 95 stretch passenger van (a.k.a. “The Land Yacht,” a.k.a. “The Tour Bus,” a.k.a. “That repair headache on wheels”). So while I was at the NRA show a few months back, the fine folks at Gum Creek Customs provided us with a sample of their new system to secure your holster in your car. You read right. It’s not a car holster. It’s a strap/hook/Velcro thing that will secure virtually any holster in virtually any car. Except a Jeep. (In fairness, this system would likely work very well in a van or SUV. Not sure about a sedan.)

Well, that’s probably a little unfair, as it technically worked. Just not so that the weapon is either really secure or really accesible. But it is a driving hazzard, so I guess that’s something. This is not a knock against their system. It IS, however, a knock against cars and how interiors are designed. But to understand why this is a problem and how it came to be, we have to set the WABAC Machine for the time of Henry Ford.

The automobile was originally designed to replace the horse and buggy. The truck was designed to replace a horse-drawn wagon. Busses were designed to replace stage coaches. Fair enough. The key word here is design. Each of these vehicles were designed, where form (originally) followed function. If something was needed, it went into the design. If it wasn’t, it was expendable. (That’s why you see few vehicles on the road today, the VW Beetle excepted, that feature a vase for your flowers. It’s just not that much in demand.)

Buggies and Wagons often features holsters for anything from a six gun to a lever-action carbine, to a double-barreled shotgun. Hell, even the term “ridin’ shotgun” came from the gun culture. But along the way, as the Wild West grew a lot less wild, the need for providing a place to secure your weapon in your vehicle became less and less a necessity.

Scott Burns, a financial writer for the Dallas Morning News, once opined that “a luxury once sampled, becomes a necessity.” Thus electric windows, remote, keyless entry, cup holders and a cigarette lighter accessory power port are all considered standard equipment on most cars. Where’s the secure box where a biometric finger scan could instantly give you access to your handgun? Where’s the integrated panel that secures and hides from view your pistol grip shotgun? (For that matter, where’s my heat-seaking missile control system that allows me to put one up the tailpipe of the idiot in front of me? But I digress…)

No, you see, in the years since the Interstate Highway system and air conditioning in cars made travel safer and car jackings a little less likely, designers have not seen a need, nor a demand, for a way to safely and securely put your firearm at your beckon call. Which is a pity, because if they can design a universal retention system for child safety seats (mandated by the Feds) and airbags that will work for different sized people automagically, then they could bloody well work out a way to include a little hidey-hole of lockable storage that would still allow me instant access to my pistol.

Since that’s largely a pipe dream, we gotta go with the Art of the Possible.™

You have few choices when it comes to securing your gun in a motor vehicle. One way keeps it at the ready but is totally insecure. The other locks it away, but not just from those who would steal it, but you as well.

In category B above, we have the lockable glove compartment, the lockable center console, and the trunk (presumably lockable). If you’re lucky, one of these will work. (If you drive a Jeep, you’re largely bereft of lockable storage, so you’d best think up a “Plan B.”

In the way of securing the gun without the worry of locking it up, you’ve got…wait for it…few options. There are some car holsters or mounting systems for car holsters that may work for you. None I found (yet) worked for me. (Your milage may vary.) The problem is, for about eight to nine months of the year, I keep my top down, doors off, on the ol’ Jeep. There is no place to put a holster that would not be in plain view to any casual observer. And remember, campers, it may be perfectly legal for you to have a gun in your car.

Having it in plain sight, however, is an invitation to trouble in the form of theft, police questioning, and or drawing a lot of unwanted attention to yourself. Not good. And don’t even think about leaving your gun, holstered and unattended in your car. (Thought for the day: Are NRA stickers an invitation to thieves to break into your car, thinking that you might be hiding a gun inside?)

Of course, this all begs the question, “What rights do you have in carrying a gun in your car?” And the answer to that question depends on where you live – specifically, in what state you reside, and where you work or travel. In Texas, your car is considered an extension of your home. But depending on your employer, you may not have the right to carry a gun, even secured and hidden, in your car, if you park on their property. While there are a lot of cases challenging these restrictions wending their way through the courts, it’s important to realize that your right to protect yourself is under frequent assault by those who thing a “Gun Free Zone” is a dandy idea. What I think might be a dandy idea is a “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” law applied to carrying a gun in your vehicle.

So what can you do when you can carry in your car? From where I sit…not much. A mounted holster is a good idea, as long as you don’t leave the gun there, unattended. Locking storage is ideal. It’s also hard to come by, for modern automobiles simply don’t leave a lot of room for such things, and their locks are notoriously flimsy.

What’s curious to me is that there’s an opportunity here for some enterprising companies to do for cars with Kydex what they’ve done for waistlines. Google “car holsters” and you’ll find a bunch of people trying to come up with something. But I think that the ultimate solution will involve a combination of customized ways to hold a gun along with some movement from automobile manufacturers to engineer secure compartments for “general use.”

I’m in hopes that, along with the ascendancy of the castle doctrine, carrying in cars, and conceal carry permits, it’s high time somebody addressed this problem with some innovative solutions, customized for specific guns, specific cars, and specific mounting solutions.

Let the competition begin.

10 Responses to Dear Diary: 30 Days to Conceal Carry, Day 4

  1. It wouldn't work in my Scion tC either. The steering column doesn't have that lip/gap. I wonder if that is the case for all Toyota products? Anyone out there drive a Toyota?

    • I actually purchased one of the Gum Creek mounts and it worked perfectly in my Tundra truck and then not in another (Jeep Cherokee) due to the gap under the column. I then got their mount Adaptor which was apparently released not too long ago and that solved my "gap" problem and now it works fine. I think it's about $5 bucks. The adaptor may solve your problem. Just call and ask them – I had a great experience with their customer service.

  2. Having a separate locking container within a vehicle is legally significant, as well as prudent from a security standpoint. In many jurisdictions it is unlawful to leave an unsecured gun in a vehicle, and sometimes 'securing' a gun requires it to be in its own locked container.

    Additionally, securing the firearm within its own separately locked container can offer some protection from the prying eyes of law enforcement, if they ever have reason to wonder what is in your car. In Washington State, at least, police may search and catalog everything in your car if they decide to impound it for various reasons. This called an 'inventory' search, and it does not require a search warrant from a judge. Such 'inventory' searches cannot intrude into locked containers within the vehicle, however, without obtaining a separate search warrant for the contents of the locked container.

    When it comes to motorcycles and convertibles, there is probably no practical solution. You could bolt a very burly (and completely waterproof) strongbox to the floor of a Jeep, but it would be near-impossible to discreetly stash or retrieve your pistol from it. And the back seat would lose most of its meager footroom.

  3. That is an interesting solution that I hadn't seen before. While car holsters do make it easier to draw in a car than from a belt holster they may lead to two problems: 1). If you need to leave the vehicle for a non-gun emergency, the gun may very well may be forgotten (which won't happen if the gun is on your body) 2). You need to figure out a way to get the gun from the car holster to the body holster and back without being seen lest a visit from the local SWAT Team.

  4. When I first When I first moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1981, every third vehicle on the road was a pickup. Of those, about a third had a .22 rifle and/or baseball bat on a rear window mounted gun rack. In '85 I moved out of state, returning again in 1997 — this time to Houston. Houston had fewer pickups. Gun racks were a rarity and I haven't seen a gun in plain sight since my first stint in Texas during the '80s. I suppose they were banned while I was living abroad. How times have changed…

  5. Brad: Although I understand where you're coming from, I think a little too much emphasis is placed on the need to be able to immediately access the gun from inside the car. IMO this is largely unneccessary. Most of the life-threatening situations I can think of that I'd get into as a driver would be easier to get out of by driving the car away from the source of danger, not playing some Mission:Imossible style of freeway shoot-em-up while also trying to avoid slamming into a bridge abutment at 70mph. Put more simply, if your gun is on your body, in a comfortable position (say, small-of-the-back) then that's all that's neccessary for car-carry.

    As the Rabbi points out, one of the biggest drawbacks to some kind of car-holster is that it makes it too easy to leave the gun in the car, which can lead to all sorts of bad outcomes. Better to keep the gun on your body, that way when you get out, the gun gets out with you.

  6. I am mostly concerned with storing the weapon when I have to enter Designated Victim Enclosures like a post office or school. While a couple of companies make a safe which is bolted to the interior of a console storage area, these are only available for certain models. As usual none of our vehicles are on the lists.

  7. In the People's Kommonwealth of Massachusetts, licensees can carry loaded, unlocked handguns in their cars, but only under their direct control. That means on their person, period. I know it's not what the statute says, but that's the way it's interpreted. Transportation of a handgun (as opposed to carrying) requires a securely locked box for the gun and separate, locked ammo storage.

    Crossdraw works for me in my car. It's fast, handy, and I won't be breaking any laws that way.

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