No responsible gun owner wants to give their children unauthorized access to a firearm. We know how devastating it can be when kids get access to firearms when unsupervised. We do our best to secure our firearms from our children.
The question then becomes how we can secure our firearms from our kids while we still have them accessible in for use in self-defense. Many advocate storing firearms unloaded and locked separately from the ammunition. While the safest means of storage this can take valuable time to make the firearm ready in the event it is needed in home or self-defense.
Another method of storage is through quick access safes that are cleverly staged throughout the house. These storage methods can be a great intermediate option provided they are securely locked at all times and children haven’t learned how to defeat the locking mechanisms or gained access to the keys or combination. Depending on where the firearm is staged it can also mean valuable time lost. As it is, however, there is no better option for quick storage while the firearm is not being carried such as night time or while bathing.
By far, the best, and most accessible option is to carry the firearm on the body of a responsible adult in a quality, purpose-built holster.
There are several reasons why this is the best option:
- It’s immediately accessible.
- You will know when your children are trying to access it.
- You have complete control of your firearm.
As a responsible gun owner you may have taken all of these steps. You’ve bought a quick-access safe. You’ve committed to keeping your firearm in a locked, quick-access safe or on your body. Then, while watching tv one day or maybe doing the dishes or reading a book, it happens; your child reaches for the gun in your holster.
You aren’t alone. As a mother of three, I assure you, this has happened many times throughout their little lives. In their early lives you are their food source and their playground. You provide safety, food, love, warmth and care and you have never been inaccessible to them. To them, there is no limit to their access to you and what you are wearing and reaching for an object on your person is not at all unusual or cause for alarm provided it is handled well and you are carrying safely and in a quality holster.
Tip: Taking your firearm off and putting it back on repeatedly increases your administrative handling and your chances of a negligent discharge. Your firearm is most secure on your body in a quality holster.
The holster you have chosen to carry your firearm in is probably the single most important piece of gear to address this issue. There are several things it needs to be accomplish flawlessly:
- Secure the firearm to the body
The last thing you want to have happen when your child reaches for your firearm is for them to be able to pull the gun from your body. If the holster is not holding your firearm securely to your body it is not securing your gun from your children.
- Keep the trigger guard covered and the trigger secured from unintentional manipulation
The trigger guard of the holster should cover and secure the entire trigger guard area. Remember that children’s hands and fingers, toys and appendages are often small and can get in cracks and crevices you may not consider acceptable. If your child is reaching for your gun they are deliberately trying to access it. Do not give them the chance to get their fingers anywhere near the trigger.
- Retain the firearm from moderate action and tension
A well-molded holster made for the make and model of your firearm should be able to hold that firearm securely even if it held upside down and given a light shake. You should be able to run, climb, lie down or do any number of other activities and have your firearm remain in place. If your firearm is working its way out of your holster during day-to-day activity it is not securing your firearm from your children and must be replaced.
If you are carrying your gun on your body in a quality holster you will be made aware that someone is trying to touch your firearm. The pressure of the body or hand or other manipulation around your person is your cue to act. Place your hand on the grip of your firearm and hold it firmly in your holster while you redirect your child’s attention and correct the behavior.
Tip: Look for a holster you can remove from your body without removing the firearm from the holster to decrease unnecessary administrative handling.
Each of my children have attempted to touch my firearm while I’ve been carrying it and at each moment I have used the moment to teach them about gun handling and safety. Remind your child that the firearm is yours and shouldn’t be touched. Small babies may not understand this and may only need to be redirected. Older children may be able to learn and parrot back gun-safety rules and depending on whether or not it’s a continued problem may need further correction and modified practices until the behavior can be addressed.
The life of a parent is a chaotic one. There are times when you aren’t as aware as you might be otherwise. If you ever feel like you aren’t able to keep complete control of your firearm on your body then it’s time to put it away. If, however, you are only concerned that you might be delayed in your response such as dealing with another child, you may want to look at retention holsters as an additional option.
Retention holsters are special holsters that require an extra step to be taken before the firearm can be drawn from the holster. Usually this is button that needs to be pressed that releases the retention device. Some poorly made retention holsters are designed where the trigger finger is used to deactivate the retention device. These holsters are unsafe in their tendency to encourage early trigger activation. The only thing your trigger finger should be working is the trigger. Do not buy a retention holster that requires the trigger finger to deactivate the retention device.
The gold standard of retention holsters is the Safariland ALS. Safariland makes other retention holsters that are well made and designed. Blade-tech also makes a retention holster with thumb deactivation. Other holster makers like galco, make leather holsters with snaps called thumb breaks that break open when you drive your thumb behind the grip to get a shooters grip on your gun or levers deactivated with middle fingers. No matter what holster system you get, however, make sure you are practicing with the system to be sure you can access your firearm in the time of need.
Remember that retention holsters are only an additional step and are not a replacement for safe practices and a responsible adult who can take control of the situation and address the behavior. With these practices you should be able to correct the behavior and your child will soon learn that the firearm is not something they should attempt to access.
Special thanks to Kathy Jackson, John Lauer, Jon Hauptman and Jack Clemons for help tracking down retention holsters.