Under Shelf Pistol Holders
Under Shelf Pistol Holders. Bill Buckley

I’ve been known to win a few things online over the last few years, so I’m always on the lookout for a contest. I recently saw a contest run by a well-respected company in the firearm industry, so I took a closer look at it. The basic premise of this contest was “show us where you are with our product.” Plenty of people looking to win product had done exactly what was asked, they posted a photo or a video of themselves and the product (In this case, it was a conceal carry purse).

Most contestants posted some really cute video’s showing themselves out and about with their pistol. We’re talking large numbers of women, in front of the camera, stating their name and showing off their gun. Cute, right? As I took a few seconds to digest the contest requirements, my eyes got a little squinty trying to process this. As a law-abiding concealed carrier, why in the world would I post a picture of me with my pistol, and tell the world my exact location, and the location of my gun?

We engrain in our children to never talk to strangers. But who actually talks these days; in today’s world, we need to also teach them to never text with strangers either. Apparently, we also need to teach this lesson to adults now too. We live in a strange new world where we can connect with people from all over the world. We can stream live video and anyone can not only see it, but tell your location. With an abundance of smartphone apps, we can even find people within our proximity and connect with them. But is it the smart thing to do? Not the way I see it.

Predators look for the easy mark. By entering this contest, not only was your full name, your face, your handgun and the purse you’re carrying now online, now you’ve told a potential predator exactly where you are. That’s an invitation for robbery. Is it likely to happen? Nobody knows, but why wouldn’t you minimize the risk to begin with.

Here are some tips on staying safe in the digital age, and beyond:

Geotagging: Never share your location, especially if you’re carrying. Because most people aren’t predators stalking the internet for their next victim, they think nothing of geotagging a photo. That’s not something I’m comfortable doing because it makes me a target for robbery. Showing exactly where I am and what I look like (and worse yet, what my gun looks like) makes me an easy mark to score a gun.

Situational Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. When walking to your car in a parking lot, don’t be texting or looking at your phone. Eyes up, scanning the area, looking for anyone who may be a potential threat will show you’re not an easy target. Having a backup plan on how to get out of the room/parking lot/situation will help you react quickly should things go bad.

Fly Under the Radar: I don’t put gun-related stickers or bumper stickers on my vehicles. I can’t imagine driving around with a bumper sticker that says “Keep honking… I’m reloading.” Some may think it’s funny, but I think it gives a bad face to law-abiding gun owners and concealed carriers who just want to protect ourselves and our families. It also tells the bad guy that there may be a firearm in your vehicle, making you a target for robbery. Save those stickers, they look badass on your guncase!

Conceal Carry: Even in an open-carry state, I conceal. I like the element of surprise in the event I need to draw. While showing the world that you’re carrying “may” deter some, it may also make you a target for a mugging in an effort to get your weapon, especially if you seem distracted and aren’t 100% focused on your surroundings. And while you’re at it, make sure you have one in the chamber, despite what some people think, you won’t have time to rack the slide. If you’re not comfortable carrying in this manner, keep training until you are. Even then, keep training so you’re proficient on your draw technique and will be able to draw quickly and efficiently without thinking.

Talk to Your Kids: If you have children, teaching them gun safety is just as important as teaching them about personal safety. There are some great gun safety lessons out there like the NRA’s Eddie the Eagle program, https://eddieeagle.nra.org/

or the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project Childsafe http://www.projectchildsafe.org/.

When they’re old enough, talk to your kids about internet safety and establish ground rules on what they’re allowed (and more importantly, not allowed) to post.

Personal safety is everyone’s responsibility. After all, it’s why we carry, right? Following these tips, being aware of your surroundings, and using some plain old common sense can help you and your loved ones stay safe.

Sure, I’d love to have won that conceal carry purse, but keeping my family and my firearms safe and secure is priceless. Predators will always look for the easy target. Be aware of your surroundings, carry, and be the hardest target you can be! Carry on, and be safe!