by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor - Friday, May 19, 2017
We’re turning Carry Life around for a few weeks, and thinking about how carry prerogatives and necessities apply where we actually spend most of our time—home. Here, many aspects of defensive preparedness change. Out and about, flight is both more appealing and more practical in terms of places to flee to, or at least so we hope. Home, on the other hand, is filled with things we rightly loathe to leave behind, or worse, fail to defend.
One of the advantages of home may only exist in our minds, and that’s the proximity of a defensive technology—usually but not necessarily a firearm. “The safe,” we think, “is right there. I can get to my XYZ 123 in no time.” A cure for this misconception is close to hand if you have a shot timer. Set a par time of 10 or even 15 seconds, and see how often you can actually get to that XYZ 123 you aren’t wearing before your interval expires. Keep in mind that a determined assault on most locked, inward-opening, exterior doors only buys about that much time. Most folks are alarmed at how easy it is to flunk this time vs. access test. It just gets worse if you factor in larger distances—out in the yard, the basement, etc.—or a surprise, unimpeded entry (as could happen during most of summertime, for instance).
A natural-seeming sequitur here may be to stash firearms around the house, but this strategy has potentially serious limitations. Most important is how you rationalize leaving a loaded firearm unattended under any circumstances. Even if there are no children in or around your home, this remains a bad idea for reasons we hope require no explanation.
Most folks are alarmed at how easy it is to flunk this time vs. access test.A partial “fix” we’re frequently asked about is to leave pre-positioned firearms in your living space un-chambered—that is, with a magazine in place, but no round in firing position (Condition 3). This is actually more accident-resistant than uneducated folks will credit, but still a hazard in the “unauthorized user(s) gaining access” sense. It also can’t really apply to revolvers, since either a single- or double-action would be made “hot” by actuating the hammer, or, for the latter, simply pressing the trigger. Pre-positioning in securing devices like Hornady’s RAPiD® Safe attacks our main objections to this plan—security and rapid access, even to multiple users.
The cost of this solution is relatively modest and scalable—both substantive advantages. Storing a firearm in a partially or fully charged state remains a point of contention.
An alternative we’ve encountered follows this pre-positioning schema with an important divergence: A loaded magazine, speed loader or moon clip is not co-located, and instead stays with any authorized users as they move through their day. Advantage here is a very low “carry” burden, and elimination of the security device access step improves the presentation speed. It does require that each of the pre-positioned arms be the same. (Multiple loading devices for multiple arms we’d dismiss as, well, stupid.)
An improvement is manifest here in that unauthorized users may discover a gun-shaped paperweight, but a step backward in the sense that an introduced loading device turns that discovered article back into a firearm, and an unsecured one at that. That’s not a plan we can recommend, again for utterly obvious reasons.
This alternative is likely more expensive as well, but better doctrine-wise in a straightforward way: The same pre-positioned firearms mean no on-the-fly technique changes under stress, as well as other interoperability efficiencies. That’s always preferable.
A common facet of all the pre-positioning strategies brings us back to where we started: Whichever—if any—of these you adopt, you’ll need to train to use each location, just like you would train for any defensive technique. Part of this is frank acknowledgement of their shortcomings.
… Whichever—if any—of these you adopt, you’ll need to train to use each location, just like you would train for any defensive technique.An example? We stick with our 15-second maximum access time (and 10 is preferable), but unless your domicile and grounds are truly tiny, there will be portions outside the envelope of access time/speed. In those locations, you’ll need to face up to what we’d call an “awareness tax” and pay more attention to what’s going on around you. Straight up Cooper Color Codes, and no excuses.
Note too, that firearms or other devices committed to pre-positioned duty can probably have no other duties. If you take pre-positioned “A” to the range without replacing it and disaster strikes, we shudder at the prospect of “forgetting” such an oversight. Ever.
It’s at this point that many folks decide that around-home carry may be more practical than any pre-position strategy, even if mixed and matched to suit your unique requirements. We can’t disagree, but also concede that some aspects of pre-positioning remain part of our own at-home measures, the complexities notwithstanding.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the trade-offs implicit in home carry, and—with a little luck—a slightly unconventional way to skin this annoying cat. Until then, Carry on.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.
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