Being a good mom is hard work. There's a lot on your plate every day as you work to care for and provide for your kids. But there's more to it than making sure your children are well-fed, clothed, and loved. As a mom, you are a protector. You would do anything for your kids and are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe (they call you mama bear for a reason!).
There are a number of unique factors at play when it comes to women's concealed carry, and moms who carry guns have even more to consider.
We've compiled a list of nine tips about concealed carry for moms to help you safely and effectively concealed carry around your kids.
Let's dive in!
Tip #1: Choose a gun with safety features
Finding the right concealed carry gun to meet your needs is a personal and important process. Everything from size to caliber to recoil must be carefully chosen based on your individual needs and circumstances.
While most of these factors will depend on your skill level and what you're comfortable with, as a parent, there are a few other things to consider.
First, you should think about how you're planning to use your firearm. Will you be using it for home defense, concealed carry, or both? If you are using it for concealed carry, you will probably want to opt for a smaller, lighter, more concealable weapon. If it's for home defense only, you can feel free to look for a larger gun that's easy to grab in dim lighting.
One of the most critical things parents should look for in a gun is the kind of safety it has, Sgt. Scott W. Wagner wrote in an article for the USCCA. Some firearms come with an internal safety, while others have an external manual safety. As a parent, invest in a gun with a safety that a child couldn't switch off.
Wagner also advises parents to carry a gun with a firm trigger that a small child couldn't pull.
"My off-duty guns have triggers that he [Wagner's son] can't pull or are backed up by safety mechanisms he can't disengage. Glocks are great guns, but he has been able to pull the trigger on an unloaded Glock since he was 3," Wagner wrote.
So, test your trigger pull and the safety of your gun. Would they be easy for a child to use, or do they take more force or finesse to engage?
Tip #2: Ditch your concealed carry purse
Concealed carry purses, diaper bags, and totes are becoming increasingly popular. Moms who carry guns are often drawn to the idea of a concealed carry bag for the convenience factor. However, many experts offer a word of caution about these bags. While they may sound like the perfect solution for a gun-toting parent, there are some serious safety concerns to consider when it comes to carrying your gun "off-body."
One of the biggest "no-nos" of carrying off-body is the idea of tossing your firearm into your bag without a holster. You should NEVER do this as it can allow foreign objects to get into the barrel or slide, makes it difficult to draw, and puts you at risk of a negligent discharge. Not only that, but a free-floating gun may look like a toy that a child rummaging through a diaper bag may be tempted to grab.
If you're going to carry your gun in a bag, make sure you invest in a dedicated concealed carry purse, or at the very least in a holster that can be secured to your purse somehow. But be selective. Some concealed carry bags are still easy for children to access and often lack adequate trigger guards and retention.
But even with these precautions, carrying your gun off-body has some downsides. You can't pull your gun from your purse as quickly as you can from a holster on your body. Not only that, but having your gun in your purse can also put you in a dangerous situation if someone snatches your bag or demands that you hand it over, trainer Neil Nemetz warned in a Geauga Firearms Academy video.
"I would rather you not carry a gun at all than carry off-body," he said. "This is actually a big danger because if someone is going to take your purse, or your bag, or whatever, who cares? It's not worth your life. Give it to them and move on. But of course, this time you've got to think about it from a criminal's perspective. They're going to rip that open and try to get your prescription drugs, or your money, or whatever the case is, and take off. Well, what happens now? They open it up, and they find a gun."
If you choose to use a concealed carry purse, it's important to remember that it must never, ever leave your side. Unlike a regular bag, you can't set it in a shopping cart, drop it onto the floor beside you, or toss it into the backseat of your car. Your purse must stay on your shoulder constantly while your firearm is inside to prevent curious little ones from peeking inside and being tempted to reach for your gun.
Tip #3: Consider the safest carry position for you
Choosing a concealed carry position is all about comfort, concealability, and ease of access when you're on your own. But when you're a parent, you now have to consider your little ones when deciding where to strap your holster.
If you have younger children, you probably find yourself picking them up and carrying them around throughout the day. This can obviously pose a problem if you're carrying in a way that your child will come into contact with your weapon.
If you find yourself always carrying your baby on your left hip, consider carrying in the 3 or 4 o'clock position. If you have kids that love to give hugs, appendix carry probably isn't for you.
It's also essential to think about whether the position you choose will allow you to draw while you're wrangling kids. If you carry your child and your gun on the same hip, how would you draw your weapon during a defensive encounter? On the other hand, if you carry your weapon on your opposite hip, do you know how to draw with your non-dominant hand?
Take the time to assess your situation and place your gun accordingly. Then, make sure you consistently train in that position so that you're prepared in case of a worst-case scenario.
Tip #4: Be picky about your holster
Finding the right holster can make or break your carry experience. When looking for concealed carry holsters for women, there are a number of important factors to think about, especially if you have kids.
As a parent, one of the first things you want to look for in a holster is good retention. Some holsters come with push-button release retention, while others, like our Kydex options here at Vedder Holsters, have adjustable retention built into the holster to allow your gun to securely "click" into place.
Secure retention means you don't have to worry about your gun slipping out of its holster while you're wrangling kids, firearms instructor Jacki Billings wrote in an article for guns.com. You can also tighten it enough so that a small child wouldn't be physically strong enough to pull your gun out of its holster.
"The beauty of a good retention system is that you can be as active as you need to be with your kids without the worry of a firearm falling out, or worse, your child gaining access to the pistol," Billings wrote.
Another feature you'll want to make sure your holster has is a trigger guard. A fully protected trigger makes sure no tiny fingers can accidentally make their way onto the trigger, thereby protecting everyone involved from the risk of a negligent discharge.
Here at Vedder Holsters, we have a variety of holster options, all with full protected triggers. Each one is custom-made for you and your gun. Our most popular IWB holster, the Vedder LightTuck™, has adjustable retention, ride height, and cant.
We carry holsters for most gun models, and we’re designing holsters for new ones all the time. Our most recent holster addition is for the recently-released Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro OSP (which is a great choice for moms who carry guns!) Check out all of our concealed carry holsters for women (and men) here.
Tip #5: Find concealed carry clothing that works
Let's be honest, finding concealed carry clothing for women that ACTUALLY hide your gun can be a real challenge. Unlike men's clothes, women's clothing is often more form-fitting (hello, skinny jeans), making it harder to conceal a firearm.
But don't worry. There's no need to run out and replace all your cute and stylish outfits with potato sacks. There are plenty of options for women's concealed carry clothing; you just may have to get a bit creative!
While you can buy dedicated concealed carry clothing for women, you don't necessarily need to go out and invest in a new wardrobe to hide your gun. More than likely, you already have items in your closet that will work just as well as any of the expensive concealed carry clothing items on the market today.
Pants: Contrary to popular belief, the style of pants you wear doesn't really have that much impact on how well you can conceal a firearm. While jeans are often cited as the preferred choice, anything with belt loops can work for concealed carry! The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing pants for concealed carry is size. As a general rule, if you can fit two fingers inside your waistband, they should be a good fit for your gun. If you can fit more or less than two fingers, your pants probably aren't the right size to keep your pistol snug and secure against your body.
Shirts: The type of shirt you need for concealed carry will depend on your preferred carry position. If you wear a belly band or corset holster, you'll need to make sure your shirt is loose and flowy. If you're carrying IWB, you can get away with a lot more and may be surprised by how well some of your more form-fitting tank tops and t-shirts work. As a general rule, button-ups, tie-front, and other loose-fitting shirts are always a safe bet, no matter your carry position!
One thing that moms who carry guns may want to consider is investing in a tuckable holster so they can tuck their shirt in over their weapon. Not only does this do an excellent job of concealing your pistol, but it is an added layer of protection that keeps wandering hands from grabbing things they shouldn't. Our LightTuck™ tuckable Kydex holster has a thin profile and fits great underneath women's concealed carry clothing.
Jackets: If you prefer to carry OWB, outer layers are probably your best friend. Wearing a jacket, cardigan, or another outer layer can also be really helpful for IWB if you're having troubles with printing.
Dresses/Skirts: With the right holster, dresses and skirts can make concealed carrying easier than you might think. While your trusty IWB or OWB holster may not work with most dresses and skirts (can't really carry inside or outside the waistband if you don't HAVE a waistband), certain concealed carry holsters for women, including belly bands, bra holsters, ankle holsters, and thigh holsters, can make these garments some of the best women's concealed carry clothing out there thanks to their often flowy designs.
Other Factors: There are a few other things you can do to make concealed carry a little easier. First, a proper concealed carry belt will make a massive difference in your EDC setup. Unlike regular belts, gun belts are designed to be stiff and durable so your gun stays in place all day.
Clothing patterns can also help reduce printing. Floral, stripes and plaid designs can help conceal your gun by making it harder to see shadows from printing. But if paisley isn't your style, don't worry. Darker solid colored shirts can have a similar effect!
Tip #6: Train with your kids in mind
As a responsible gun owner, you're probably already training for various self-defense situations. But are you specifically preparing for scenarios in which your children may be involved?
When you have kids to protect, their safety is your number one priority. And that priority should come through in the way you train as well.
In a self-defense situation, you will automatically react the way you've trained to. If you don't train in a way that factors in your little ones, you're putting you and your kids at risk of a potentially dangerous situation, firearms instructor Steve Moses writes.
"Typical square-range training is predicated on the assumption that we will be alone when attacked. Very seldom does training revolve around having our own children present. Videos exist of parents drawing pistols over their own children's heads and in some instances even shooting. Parents get sucked into the moment and default to their training (or lack thereof) and may even ignore the fact that their children are present and in the line of fire," he wrote.
Whenever you train, think about how you would respond to a situation if your kids were with you. Practice drawing in a way that wouldn't muzzle the baby in your arms, and think about how you might get your kids out of the line of fire before brandishing your weapon.
Not only is it important to think about and train for situations in which your kids may be present, but you must create a safety plan for your family and make sure your kids know what to do when faced with a dangerous situation.
USCCA writer Beth Alcazar suggests sharing a code word with your kids that lets them know when serious danger is present. It should be something unique and recognizable so that even your youngest children will be attentive to it.
Alcazar recommends having a designated safe room in your home where your kids should go in an emergency. You should also have a plan for public places. When you use your safe word, should your kids get behind you? Should the older children pick up the younger children and move to safety? Whatever your plan is, be open about it with your kids and practice it to prepare the whole family in case danger strikes.
"It may sound daunting, but having plans in place for your family's protection is better than not knowing where anyone is or just panicking," Alcazar wrote. "Just be sure to talk honestly about potential dangers and discuss family plans with your children. Don't scare them … just prepare them! Ask them questions and let them question you. … Talk and walk through what they need to do. Have a drill. See if there are other potential problems or better solutions. Work together and stay safe."
Tip #7: Know the laws about carrying on school grounds (and everywhere else!)
As a parent, you likely find yourself on school grounds regularly while dropping off and picking up your kids, going to parent-teacher conferences, and attending your children's football games and recitals.
For moms who carry guns, this raises a few questions about whether you can conceal carry on school grounds or if you can even have your weapon in your car while sitting in the pickup line.
The reality is that federal laws are fairly lenient on carrying on school property. However, every state has its own restrictions. Most states do not allow firearms on school grounds at all, even outside of school hours, regardless of whether you have a concealed carry permit or not.
But what if you just came from work, or you've been out running errands and have your gun on you when you head to the school to pick up your kids? Can you get in trouble for having your gun in your car in the parking lot of the school? It depends. Again, every state has different laws regarding guns on school property, so you'll have to research the rules where you live.
Since each state is different, it's critical that you thoroughly research the concealed carry laws where you live before stepping foot onto school grounds with a gun.
And don't stop there! If you haven't already, take the time to research ALL of the concealed carry laws in your state to make sure you're carrying legally and responsibly.
Tip #8: Practice gun safety and talk about it with your kids
Whether or not you choose to tell your kids that you have a gun in your house is up to you. Some parents like to be open with their children about firearms, while others prefer not to disclose that they have a gun. It all comes down to your personal preference as a parent.
But regardless of whether you choose to tell them about your guns or not, certain safety precautions should be taken to keep kids safe.
The NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program offers some safety advice for parents who have guns:
Make sure your firearms are stored in a place that children cannot access, such as a safe, in a locked drawer, or up on a shelf where they can't reach it.
Keep ammunition securely stored away where your kids can't access it.
Talk to your kids about guns. Removing the mystery surrounding guns will help reduce their curiosity about firearms and encourage them to follow safety rules if they encounter one.
Make sure your kids know the difference between a toy gun and a real gun. Also, make sure they know the reality of the guns and know the difference between real and pretend (AKA what they see on TV).
The program strongly encourages parents to talk to their kids about firearm safety, even if they don't own a gun. Kids are curious creatures, and in the case that your child comes across a gun, whether they find it in your closet or come across one at the park, they need to know better than to ever touch a weapon without a parent's supervision.
The NRA offers four safety rules they recommend teaching your children: stop, don't touch, run away, and tell an adult.
If you regularly go over these rules and establish them with your children, there is a greater chance that they will remember these rules and make the right choice in the event that they come across a gun.
As your kids get older, you may choose to adapt what you teach them about guns. Ultimately, how you choose to communicate with your kids about guns is up to you, the parent. However you decide to do it, just make sure it's consistent!
Tip #9: Keep your gun properly locked up when not in use
You can’t keep an eye on your kids every second of every day. You can’t keep your eye on your gun 24/7 either. So what do you do with your weapon while you’re not using it? It’s important for any gun owner to have a designated place where they can secure their firearm, and it’s even more critical for parents to do so.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your guns and ammunition are safely stored away in a place where children can’t access them. No matter how well you instill gun safety rules in your children, kids are curious and unpredictable. As much as you may trust them, you never know when they, or their friends, may make a bad decision.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe, hiding your gun in a closet, drawer, or similar space is not considered safe storage. Safe storage involves using multiple safeguards and precautions that add an extra layer of protection against your gun getting into the wrong hands.
Project ChildSafe offers a few tips for safely storing your weapon:
- When storing your gun, it should always be unloaded and secured in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault, or locked storage case. Make sure that once you’ve locked your empty firearm away, you also place its storage container in a location that is inaccessible to kids.
- Gun locking devices that prevent firearms from being used are recommended and can be used IN ADDITION to locking your gun in a secure place. If you choose to disassemble your firearm in lieu of using a gun locking device, make sure each part is stored separately.
- Ammunition should also be stored in a locked container separate from your firearms.
- Always double-check your gun to make sure it is unloaded when you remove it from storage. You could be put in a dangerous situation if another adult family member used the gun and forgot to unload it before returning it to its storage location. With this one, it’s just always better to be safe than sorry.
Project ChildSafe offers a free gun safety kit for parents, which includes a cable-style gun lock and additional safety instructions. If you’re interested in receiving a free kit from the organization, click here.
When it comes to women's concealed carry, there are a lot of unique factors to consider. Finding a comfortable carry setup and clothes that actually conceal your gun can be a real challenge (why ARE they still making our pockets so small?!). Moms who carry guns have even more to think about since they often have curious little ones in tote.
We hope the above tips about concealed carry for moms (for all parents, really) gave you some ideas for how you can improve your carry approach when you've got kids to consider.
If you are looking for belts or holsters, check out some of our Vedder Holsters products here. Like everything we sell, our holsters and gun belts are covered by a Lifetime Warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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