Fall means many things to hunters, but mostly it’s about deer season. Sure, there are other seasons involved like dove, turkey, and duck, but deer remains the winner for sheer numbers of hunters involved. Of course, there’s something else that goes on in October: Halloween. If you have kids—or even if you don’t—you might stop and consider what this means to you as a firearms owner. And if you’re thinking this is just about self-defense, it’s not. Guns and Halloween involve a few factors, and we’re going to get into it here.
SHOULD YOUR KIDS HAVE TOY GUNS FOR HALLOWEEN?
We’ll jump right in with the topic of toy firearms and Halloween costumes. A lot of costumes include or have the option to add on a toy gun. First and foremost, it’s your choice as the parent how to handle this. Here’s my take as a mom to kids of a variety of ages.
Toy guns for Halloween costumes are a no-go here. It’s not the kids we’re concerned over, it’s other people. The kids are taught gun safety and spend time hunting and shooting with us. Gun safety is a way of life here. But on Halloween, with all the people running around in masks and various costumes, it might seem like those rules can go out the window. After all, what’s a soldier without a toy gun? Probably a lot safer, frankly. Toy guns today are frequently incredibly realistic, and even when they’re not, they tend to be too close to the real thing. That means a toy could be mistaken for a real firearm. It happens more than you might realize. This could be an issue with fellow trick or treaters, people opening their front door, or members of law enforcement (or other first responders, depending on the situation). I know that bright orange pistol might be blatantly inert to you, but brief glances in situations that require snap decisions might have tragic results.
If you do choose to include a toy gun in your kid’s costume, do everything you can to make it obviously fake. Also, don’t allow your child to aim the gun at people or otherwise brandish it. The toy gun can stay holstered.
SHOULD YOU CARRY A GUN ON HALLOWEEN?
Do you normally carry a handgun for self-defense purposes? Do you practice concealed carry or open carry? Are you legally allowed to carry a handgun? These are questions that should be asked when debating carrying a firearm for self-defense on Halloween. I assume I don’t have to say that real guns aren’t props and should never be used as part of a costume, but I’ll say it anyway: your firearms aren’t toys or accessories, they’re tools. Treat them as such.
If you’re properly trained and legally allowed to carry a firearm for self-defense in the location you’re spending Halloween, why wouldn’t you? Our defensive handguns aren’t the kind of thing we leave behind because it’s inconvenient or a holiday. Quite the opposite. You can’t control the moment when you’ll need your handgun to defend your life or the lives of loved ones, and that means you can’t get picky about when you carry it. Regarding open carry versus concealed carry, I’ll always advice concealed carry, and there’s extra emphasis on that for Halloween. Conceal your handgun. It’s tactically smart, gives you the advantage in case of a threat, and keeps the existence of the handgun between you and your holster. There’s no need to advertise the handgun and on Halloween that becomes even more accurate.
DO YOU NEED A HANDGUN ON HALLOWEEN IF YOU’RE STAYING HOME?
While the instances of violent crime on Halloween related to opening your door to trick or treaters are rare, they’re not unheard of. Reality is that there are bad people out there and they might take advantage of your guard being down to do something, well, bad. This doesn’t mean you should prop a shotgun behind the front door. There are several reasons that’s ill-advised. It does mean you should be situationally aware and not get complacent because it’s a holiday involving passing out candy.
If you’re staying home on Halloween but do intend to open your door to trick or treaters, it’s not a bad idea to keep your handgun on your body. Whether you choose to conceal it or carry it openly in your own home is up to you. If you just want the greater comfort of carry that comes with carrying outside the waistband rather than in it, it’s also incredibly simple to throw on a cover garment like a hoodie or flannel shirt to cover it.
There’s also the option of not opening your door. Yes, this might result in some destruction of property or vandalism depending on the kid in question. Here’s the thing: if you don’t answer your door and some kid or adult decides that means your home or vehicle should be trashed in some way, that’s not an invitation to open your door. Defense of property isn’t a good idea. What’s more important, you or the finish on your car? You have no way of knowing how a situation might escalate, and that—among other things— makes it smart to remain in your home.
BUT WAIT, ARE WE SURE OPEN CARRY ISN’T SMART?
Let’s circle back to open carry. You might be thinking two things: that carrying your firearm openly will dissuade violent offenders or that your gun will blend right into the festivities. Regarding the first assumption, no, it doesn’t work that way. You could draw unwanted attention or find yourself struggling to keep your gun from being stolen when you open carry. Why wouldn’t you want to be that unassuming yet situationally aware mom or dad whose firearm is concealed?
As for the idea that a firearm will fit right into all the costumes and props, it might. Or it might not. Either way, firearms aren’t toys and shouldn’t be treated as though they are. Be a responsible gun owner this Halloween and take the time to carry your gun concealed.
One more thing. If you’re going to carry a gun, carry a tourniquet. If you can manage to holster up, you can handle adding a tourniquet to your load. Statistics show you’re way more likely to need that tourniquet than the gun, so carry one. You never know when it might come in handy.
Happy Halloween. Now get out and trick or treat—and carry—responsibly.