As a commuter from the suburbs to the city, I spend around two hours a day inside my car. I live in a quiet suburb, and my commute avoids most of the sketchy neighborhoods around me, but that doesn’t mean I am entirely safe from harm as I drive. There are the obvious concerns about traffic accidents and the maniacal drivers beside me on the roads, but there is also the need to protect myself from violent criminal actors on the road, just like the need to protect myself in my home or when I’m out in public.
Wearing a seatbelt can cause some interference with common carry options for a defensive pistol. I commonly carry a small .380 in a pocket holster, and getting to that gun when seated can be a challenge, even more so when I’m wearing a seatbelt. Also, I’ve found that if I’m carrying a gun in a strong-side hip holster, it’s faster for me to quickly release my seatbelt as I start my draw stroke and continue with my draw as normal once the seatbelt is out of the way.
If you carry a gun on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a situation where you can carry your gun to a location, but due to the laws of your state, you’ll need to leave it behind when you enter the location itself. In those instances, having a secure place inside your vehicle to store your sidearm is a good idea. A portable safe, such as a Hornady Lock Box, can keep your gun secure inside your car while you conduct business elsewhere. I have one and I use it when I need to, but keep in mind that holstering and re-holstering your gun is when a lot of negligent discharges happen, so pay extra attention to your trigger discipline and where your muzzle is pointed as your handle your gun.
How you choose to keep your gun safe inside your car also depends a lot on what you drive. I drive a small hatchback. The center console in my car is small and doesn’t lock, so it’s not the optimal location for storing a firearm while I’m elsewhere. There’s also not a lot of room underneath the seat, however, because I spend most of my time in my car by myself driving to and from work, I can affix a lockable, secure storage box to the passenger seat rails and keep it on the floor on that side with no issues, and then shove it under the seat out of sight when I leave my car.
An interesting way to store your pistol safe from prying hands and keep yourself safe at the same time is the new Hornady RAPID Vehicle Safe, which has the quick access features of other Hornady RAPID safes but is designed for use in the car. The RAPID Vehicle safe wedges anywhere with an inflatable bladder and opens with either an RFID bracelet/key fob, a user-programmed numeric code or it can be manually opens with a barrel key. The safe is powered by four AA batteries or your vehicle’s 12V DC accessory jack, and the inflatable bladder turns the safe into an immovable, secure object inside your car.
Keeping yourself safe inside your car means more than just keeping yourself armed. I’ve thankfully not had to defend my life while driving, but I have been the first to arrive on-scene after a major traffic accident occurred right in front of me, and I’ve had to change a flat tire by the side of the road in the middle of a rainstorm. This is why carrying a firearm is just a part of my plan to stay safe inside my car: I make sure my spare tire is inflated and easily accessible, and I carry a small roadside emergency kit to help fix common roadside car troubles. I also have a first aid kit in my car that’s stocked with more than just adhesive bandages and aspirin and has everything I need to deal with a variety of traumatic, life-threatening injuries.
Keeping safe on the road means more than just staying armed. It also means staying aware of changing road conditions and the antics of your fellow travelers. Remember that your job is not to make a bad situation even worse, but to come out safe from whatever may happen on the roads of America.