Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kids & Guns, Securing Tools On Body In An Overactive Environment

Nothing in this world will challenge the concealability and comfort of defensive tools quite like play dates.

I'm the mother of a two-year-old. There are lots of play dates in my week. Several times a week my son and I meet up with mothers, fathers, newborns, toddlers and preschoolers for hours of unrehearsed, unplanned mayhem. You may be called upon to breakup a toddler boxing ring, retrieve spit up cheerios from under a bench, leap to your death after a thrown sippy cup or just be voluntold to lose a spontaneous game of, "No, you're supposed to let me win!" And you must do it all while being safe and keeping your gun concealed.

I refuse to carry off-body around kids; at least not without completely and totally disabling the firearm, locking it up, burying it and pouring cement down the barrel. Such innocent and curious lives should never be cut short because of irresponsibility of gun owners and no other environment is as ripe for firearms' accidents as a play date or nursery. Ten minutes with toddlers and preschoolers and any bag, purse, briefcase and sack is thoroughly examined with a "WHAT'S THAT?!?" Even if your kid is oober smart and cool and knows not to touch firearms it doesn't mean Billy has been trained the same way or that your kid won't get the stupids and decide to play show-and-tell.

I firmly believe that the best way to keep kids safe from your firearm in such an environment is to keep CONSTANT, discreet control of your firearm and that means keeping it on body and under deep concealment. Something new and unusual tends to make little, indiscreet minds lock on and alert the entire area to such a discovery with yet another, "WHAT'S THAT?!?" And a gun on a Momma's (or Daddy's) hip is certainly unusual when it comes to play dates.

Being armed should not make someone afraid of playing (and I do mean REALLY PLAYING) with their children. Today I got roped into balloon volleyball with five kids and three balloons, all of them against me. I was diving over couches, rolling on the floor, colliding with four-year-olds and tripping over two-year-olds. I was carrying a fully-loaded Glock 19, a Ka-Bar LDK and my Gerber Crucial while doing it, too. Which brings me to some finer points of carrying around children.

1. Make sure your gear is tough and capable. The last thing you want to do is dive for that third balloon, land wrong and find your gun has spilled out onto the floor in the midst of five children with their mothers looking on. Having a holster that you know you can roll around the floor with and not have it give up your gun or your concealment should be a top priority.

2. Make sure your holster completely covers the trigger guard and holds your gun close to the body. Preschools are nosy. If they see or feel the slightest bulge they will grab and pull and poke at your gun while screaming, "What's under your shirt?!?" If you don't think so I guarantee you haven't spent five minutes with any child under the age of five. Not to mention you may have to pick up a screaming kid or have another mother ask you to hold her newborn while she goes to wipe puke off her blouse. You do not want anyone to find your gun by matter of just simply feeling it or seeing it. You also don't want to entertain the thought that small fingers or toes or toys could get inside the trigger guard of your gun.

3. Long sweaters/vests (preferably with a button or zipper) are your friend, especially when you are playing balloon volleyball with five kids and three balloons. Keep that thing hidden!

4. Don't make a big deal about adjusting and covering your firearm if it does get exposed. In short, if you do fall head-first over a couch while diving for a balloon and get up finding that your sweater is completely tucked BEHIND your gun, keep a big ol' smile on your face, throw the balloon with one hand while you cover your gun and move on as though nothing happened. Distraction works well with most kids if they do see something.

5. Wear colors that closely match the color of your gun and holster. This is not the time to try out that new custom holster with the beautifully etched American flag in full color on it. If you have a black gun and a black holster wear dark jeans and a black shirt and dark cover garment. If you do accidentally have a concealment slip you are already camouflaged and almost no one is likely to see.

6. Be smart. Don't take your gun off and put it anywhere. Don't fiddle with it. Don't leave it some place where it can be accessed by kids (like the diaper bag or purse or under a coat). You are far more likely to have an accident with a firearm in that kind of an environment than you are to actually need your gun in self-defense. If there's a question about safety then err on the side of caution and leave you gun in a safe location (your locked car, for instance) for the duration of the activity.

7. Have fun! Play dates and kid groups are about letting your child socialize and taking you away from all of the distractions so that you can have fun with your child as he has fun with his friends. If you can't have fun with your kid while being armed then leave the damned thing at home or keep training until you can comfortably (and safely) carry your gun in such an environment. Dare I say it, but your relationship with your kid is more important than the one-in-a-million chance you might get into a shootout at your kids play date. Yes, I know you want to be able to protect you child (I do, too) but you also need to be a parent. Don't let a gun get in the way of spending quality time with your kids.

Be safe, be smart. Protect yourself and your child.