Bad things happen fast — and often when we least expect it. And if a gun is not within immediate reach, it may as well be a paperweight. Most of our regular readers already carry a firearm in public (and in a manner that allows for quick access). But what about other circumstances in which people might let their vigilance lapse?

Having a Gun in Your Home

An estimated 100 million Americans own guns. Surprisingly, many of them who carry in public do not have a firearm ready and available for defense in the home. Too many people just don’t want to believe that they will be victims — especially in their own homes.

But you can find YouTube videos of home-surveillance camera footage showing frighteningly violent home invasions. Sometimes, when the homeowners are armed and prepared, you will be treated to images of the terrified criminals fleeing for their lives.

Other residents are not so lucky. I recall a case of a serial rapist who once prowled the Western suburbs of Chicago, targeting homes where he had noted women who worked at home. Dressed like a jogger, he would scout for potential victims.

He would knock on doors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and, sadly, the majority of his victims simply opened their doors. At that point, he would shove his way in, assault the woman, then leave her tied or duct-taped.

Note that the rapist was finally caught when a woman who did answer the door armed was able to get the drop on him as he pushed his way in. Later, it was discovered that several other victims also had guns in the house, but not within easy grasp.

Learn from their mistakes. Establish a home protocol that everyone in your family follows. Obviously, the exact details will vary based on the number and ages of the people who live there as well as regular visitors. But create a plan that allows you to defend yourself and your family at all times. Then stick with it.

Concealed Carry in Your Vehicle

Whenever I am in a vehicle, I continue to carry in my usual strong-side, belt-slide holster. True, when I settle into the driver’s seat, I tend to nudge the holster forward from its normal 4 o’clock position to 3 o’clock, to keep the butt from digging into my hip. But it’s immediately available.

However, more than a few people, such as truckers, salespeople and others who spend considerable time on the road, will place a firearm somewhere in the vehicle. If you are one of them, keep a couple of things in mind.

First, whether you are in a sedan, truck, SUV or even an RV, make sure you have the gun within immediate reach. Never in the glove box*, and never tucked under the seat! That is a recipe for disaster.

Second, whenever you do leave the vehicle, even for a moment, take the gun with you (i.e., in a holster, etc.) or, if you are entering a facility that prohibits firearms, lock it in the trunk or some other secure compartment.

Ready Is the Word When It Comes to Self-Defense

Most of us who carry every day do so to protect ourselves, our loved ones or our fellow citizens. But even when you have your gun on you, if it’s buried under winter clothing when trouble comes, you could find yourself in serious trouble.

Be smart. Be ready. Right now.

*It is your responsibility to stay abreast of your local state gun laws as they apply to transporting firearms in a vehicle.