Recently, fellow blogger and instructor LimaTunes (Melody) got some media attention from a class she taught in her home state of Iowa. Melody has spotted a void in the firearms training community. Instructors are missing a large segment the gun owning public. It’s the same reason I started this blog. She taught a class teaching mothers and fathers how to carry their firearms while they carry their babies. Melody even included a few photos that I had in my post Baby Totin’ Busy Hand Drills.
Local media showed up, and the local story was picked up in multiple states. As a result, it became news. Interest in more courses as well as hateful comments began to spring up all over the interwebs.
Here’s a news segment: Video Here
Rebecca Bahret of SheKnows.com asked me for my thoughts on the story, not knowing that I know Melody. I, of course, agreed. Rebecca emailed me the questions, and I emailed her an epic wall-of-text response. I am very grateful for the opportunity. Here’s her article with a short excerpt from my long winded response.
Here’s the whole interview, which I found to be a helpful exercise. It’s also my first interview, which is a pretty big deal to me. Hopefully there’s something of value for you.
Any additional considerations for babywearing and shooting, opposed to just holding your child and shooting?
Yes, there are absolutely other considerations. The bulk of which aren’t even shooting skills. The mechanical steps of drawing and shooting aren’t that complicated. The tactics are the things that we should practice the most. The mental approach that an armed parent needs to consider should start with ways to avoid, deter, and de escalate these sorts of situations. What can we do as parents to avoid being selected as ‘easy prey’ for a violent crime? This starts with positioning and movement in public space. It includes avoiding task fixation in public space (putting the baby in the car seat is a huge one). It includes rudimentary surveillance detection such as noticing things that seem out of place or people moving in ways that don’t make sense given the environment. It includes a robust and practiced set of verbal challenges since being good at communicating with a gun in our hands (and under stress) isn’t something we are born with. It includes developing a plan with your partner, and drilling it. Will both parents be carrying guns? Will one person carry guns for both people? If only one person has a gun, what should the other person be doing? These things require more attention and training than does the shooting problem.
I know you’re probably after the specifics of the shooting problem, but I’d be remiss if I hadn’t mentioned the previous items. Some viable tactics that I’ve worked out for myself include whichever of the following makes the most sense given the situation.
Baby and parent do a ‘Nike Defense’ and run away from the problem area. If our primary goal is to keep our baby safe, this will always be the preferred tactic. Intervening in someone else’s criminal assault while I’ve got my son (or even if I don’t) is very low on my list of preferred tactics. Sometimes it pays to be a good witness.
If the shooting is unavoidable, quickly putting the baby down should be the go to tactic if time and situation permit. You should even consider that you might have to drop the baby. They’re bouncy, right? But seriously, get the child to a place of cover or concealment and rapidly move off line to keep your child from the possible return fire. If the bad guy(s) have contact weapons like knives or bats and are in contact range, you almost certainly will have to place the child down to regain initiative and get your pistol into play.
Pass the baby to your partner and then handle the problem. This requires planning so your partner knows what is happening. Having a ‘GO’ word that alerts your partner that a situation is unfolding is critical. Does your partner know your plan? How does your partner react under stress? Do they know how to seek cover or exits? Where will you meet if you get separated? What is your plan if you are injured and the situation isn’t resolved? These things need to be worked out beforehand.
If your child is physically tied to you or the situation unfolds very rapidly, you probably won’t have time to put them down. This will require shooting with a baby strapped to you. Keeping your body mass between the bad-guys and your child should be on the top of your list. Movement and use of cover should be emphasized. If your shooting range doesn’t let you draw from a holster, don’t worry. These things can be worked at home in dryfire for free. Remember, the shooting problem isn’t the hard part.
What do you think about live-fire training while babywearing (with eyes/ears, of course)?
I don’t think this is necessary. In fact, I’m quite sure LimaTunes (Melody) didn’t have any live fire portion in her presentation. The mindset, skills, tactics and gear issues can be worked with dry-fire in the home. Home is completely absent of the loud noise and traumatic environment that a gun range would be to an infant. At the range, use a sack of kitty litter or potatoes or anything that simulates the weight and floppiness of a baby to work through the mechanics. Work your draw-stroke, reloading, trigger manipulation, recoil management, and so on. This is the time to work out the mechanics of managing a gun one handed while having an arm occupied with another task. It’s harder than it sounds. Seek training.
At home, follow safe dry-fire protocol and include the little one. Simulating a child at the range and then working with your child at home should allow a person to get a pretty good picture of the challenges involved in shooting with a child in your arms. It will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. You will learn things about your gear (holster, gun, belt, shirts, jackets, etc), and what you are physically capable of doing with a squirming child in your arms. You might even decide that your ONLY option is putting the child down because you aren’t confident enough shooting one handed. You will never know this unless you do the work.
What would you say to critics of her course, who say you should never attempt to shoot while holding a child, in any capacity (and are especially critical of her teaching the practice)?
It’s unfortunate that people have such emotional reactions whenever the word ‘gun’ is brought up. I basically have given up reasoning with people who are vehemently opposed to guns. The reality is that the critics don’t just have a problem with a mother carrying a gun with a baby, but with guns in general. Melody just happens to be an easy target because she got some news coverage. To me, a rational person who understands that we live in uncertain times and that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away, would understand the needs for a force equalizer. A lone mother who is wrangling 3 children in a parking lot is at a serious tactical disadvantage. A firearm happens to be the best tool for this job. It also carries with it great responsibility. Its ownership and deployment is taken too lightly by some. I don’t disagree at all. However attacking those trying to bring the information to a receptive audience is clearly not the correct approach.
Here’s what we have to accept:
There are bad people in this world that have no qualms with killing you and your child over $20. The odds of encountering them are minimal, but so is a grease fire in your kitchen. We still have fire extinguishers in our homes. A gun is a tool and a means to an end.
Guns exist. Sorry. The bad guys have them. In this country they always will. Pandoras Box is open and they are prevalent. Outlawing them only puts those who follow laws at risk.
When the situation has deteriorated to the point that a gun is needed, then the ONLY thing that will work is a gun. Being stuck without one puts a person in a bad spot.
The way is in TRAINING. Shaming mothers and fathers who have made the heavy decision to purchase firearms for their families protection will discourage education and training. Lack of training and ignorance are what cause accidents, such as the recent case of the 2 year old accidentally shooting her mother in a store. Proper training and education is the ONLY way forward.
As the piece said, Melody is not advocating that mothers carry guns. She is only providing information to those who seek it and would otherwise flounder in their gun ownership with no clear way forward, possibly resulting in a terrible tragedy.
Anything additional on your mind?
Here’s a few things:
Protect your guns from unauthorized access. This refers to your children as much as it does a burglar. My policy is that if it’s not secured on my body, it’s locked in a safe. Period. The End. The top of the mantle or under the couch doesn’t cut it. A purse in a shopping cart doesn’t cut it. There’s no margin for error.
As soon as possible, begin training your little partners on code words, how to assist with surveillance detection, use of cover/concealment, remembering details on their surroundings. We can sculpt little tactic machines who won’t be easy prey to those who would do them harm.
There’s some cool things developing to expand and expound on her original class in the next few months in Iowa. It’s still embryonic, but we’re all discussing it now. Stay tuned.