The Truck Gun Concept
Written by Steve Moses,
in Section Safety And Education
THE TRUCK GUN CONCEPT (ALSO KNOWN AS THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY)
The truck gun (sometimes referred to as a trunk gun if carried in a coupe or sedan) is a long gun carried by concealed carriers in their vehicles as a supplement to their concealed handgun for those situations in which a long gun could be brought into play. Historically, a truck gun chosen by concealed carriers was typically a pump-action shotgun, lever-action .30-30, AR-15, AK-47, or SKS. Concealed carriers have lately been purchasing AR-15 pistols chambered in .223/5.56mm, .300 Blackout, and pistol calibers like the 9mm in record numbers due to the ruling by the ATF regarding the manner in which the same can more or less be shouldered.
The Good: A truck gun might be the tool of choice in encounters in which a concealed carrier is forced to use or threaten the use lethal force against others for the simple fact that they are easier to shoot accurately and more ballistically more effective. I grew up in rural western Oklahoma where my family farmed and ran cattle. I often kept a rifle in our truck for running off feral dogs that would occasionally chase our cattle as well as dispatching skunks in our barns. Unfortunately, I was too young to be trusted with a rifle when the coyotes wiped out most of our free-range chickens. Ranchers that ran cow-calf operations would also shoot coyotes on sight, as they wreaked havoc on new-born calves. Police officers definitely need to have a long gun available to them due to the nature of the problems they face. It is only in the last few decades that we have seen the patrol rifle become widely available for their use.
The Bad: Keeping a truck gun inside the cabin area or the trunk exposes it to theft. A large percentage of violent crime in which firearms were used was with those that were stolen, and a large percentage of the stolen firearms were taken from vehicles. The safest way to store a truck gun is going to be in a locked vault bolted to the bed of a SUV or a truck with a camper shell or tonnneau cover or in the trunk of a car. This would suggest that it might take several minutes to gain access to a truck gun in a situation where seconds might count. Concealed carriers might ask themselves what that situation might look like, the likelihood of that occurring, and whether or not their getting involved would actually make things better.
Have there probably been times when intervention by a concealed carrier with a long gun saved innocent lives? Absolutely! The flip side of this was also that by the time a concealed carrier could have gained access to a truck gun secured in the manner described above a significant amount of time has passed. When law enforcement first started addressing active shooter response, it was considered best to delay making entry until backup arrived. This model has largely fallen out of favor once it became apparent that every minute that intervention was delayed was another minute the shooter had to shoot other victims. In other words, if rapid action was needed by the concealed carrier in order to defend him or herself of others, immediately defaulting to the concealed handgun might be the better choice.
The Ugly: Full-time large county police academy firearms instructor and long-time Texas peace officer Hany Mahmoud said that many law enforcement officers that respond to shootings are programmed to label persons at the scene of an ongoing or recently completed violent crime as victims, offenders, and bystanders/witnesses only. In that case, where does the armed civilian defender fit in?
The unfortunate truth is that there is a significant chance that a concealed carrier whose intentions are strictly heroic might get mistakenly engaged by responding law enforcement or even another concealed carrier who misinterprets the situation. While this is always a possibility any time that a concealed carrier uses a handgun to defend him or herself the same risk exists, the chances that it will occur are more than likely increased by virtue of the far more visible long gun and its association with active shooters. The greater terminal effectiveness of rifle rounds and the ever-expanding shotgun pattern as the distance from the muzzle increases suggests that a missed shot could cause a devastating injury or death to a down range non-combatant.
While it appears that I am vehemently opposed to the use of truck guns, that is not the case. I believe that there are concealed carriers who have an absolutely legitimate reason for having a truck gun in their vehicle. This is true for those living in rural areas where they are largely on their own, and most especially in those areas where there is significant crime or large dangerous animals. Most people don’t know that one of the more dangerous North American animals is a moose cow. Concealed carriers should simply put some thought into the matter of keeping a truck gun or trunk gun in their vehicle, weigh the pros and cons relevant to how they go about their lives, and then make an informed decision.