Jason R. Hanson writes:
In this month’s American Rifleman, The Armed Citizen section tells of a woman and her son cut off by a vehicle. The car suddenly stopped in front of them. A man got out, ripped the woman from her vehicle and put a knife to her throat. Thankfully, a concealed carry licensee witnessed the incident and intervened. When the perp saw the Good Samaritan approaching with a gun, he ran away and was later arrested. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how irrational people can become behind the wheel. All it takes is one lunatic to come after you. Which is why it’s critical to always have your gun with you while driving . . .
When I’m carrying on the road I put my Ruger LCP in my pocket or my Glock 19 in an inside the waistband holster. Depending on how far I’m traveling and where I’m going I’ll have a rifle with me too. (I live in Southern Utah and spend a lot of time in the mountains.) Of course, our guns are tools of last resort. We pray that we never have to use them. But worst sometime comes to worst. Here are a few things to keep in mind to drive safely while carrying your gun.
1. Sit Properly
The proper seating position improves your driving abilities and makes it easier to draw your firearm. If you carry your gun in your front right pocket (as I do) and you’re sitting too close to the wheel, it’s extremely difficult to quickly access your gun. Find the right seating position for visibility and comfort and control and then practice your seated draw (with an unloaded gun).
[To find out if your seat is properly adjusted, put your arm forward over the steering wheel. If your fingers barely touch the wheel move your seat up. If the steering wheel touches your elbow then you’re sitting too close and you need to move the seat back. Ideally, your wrist should rest on the top of the steering wheel.]
2. Stay calm
I’ll be the first to admit that when someone flips me the bird or drives slower than continental drift in the left lane I’d love to give them a piece of my mind. As I’m always carrying my gun I remember to have self-discipline. I just smile and let it go. I know that controlling my emotions is more important than defending my territory or keeping to a time schedule. On the road as elsewhere, the only gunfight you’re guaranteed to win is the one you never have.
Situational awareness helps you maintain your composure. If you keep Jeff Cooper’s color code in mind while driving it will keep you aware of your surroundings. This proactive approach obviously beats a more reactive emotional response. You’ll notice danger—and have a chance to avoid or escape from it—before it’s too late.
3. “Tarmac and tires”
Whether you’re driving in traffic or stopped, leave enough space from the car ahead of you to see both the pavement and the rear tires of the vehicle in front. That way you’ll leave yourself plenty of room to drive around the vehicle and escape, rather than get into an ambush or trapped when a road rage driver loses it. Depending on circumstances (e.g., bad neighborhoods), you might want to avoid lanes that leave you hemmed-in by vehicles on both sides.
4. Consider caliber carefully
When I go run errands later today with my Glock 19 on my hip, it’ll be loaded with 115 grain 9mm Speer Gold Dot. The round performs well in FBI penetration tests, which include laminated windshield glass. Your ammo should do the same. If you shoot a round smaller than 9mm, keep in mind that a window will deflect the bullet’s path. (Hint: fire follow-up shots through the hole created by the initial bullet.)
Bottom line: Defensive gun use is less important than defensive driving—until it isn’t. Always have your gun on your person or within reach when driving and make sure it’s loaded with a round in the chamber.