On what he thought would be a regular day, a 33-year old, construction truck driver came to an intersection in a major US city. A crowd of people yelled at him to stop, which he did. He was then pulled from his truck and brutally beaten, sustaining serious head injuries. Because of the injuries he suffered during the attacks, the truck driver had to undergo years of rehabilitative therapy, and his speech and ability to walk were permanently damaged.
It can happen. The Department of Justice reported 49,000 carjackings a year at the beginning of this century. Almost half of these carjackings involved the use of a gun by the assailant. In 16 percent of these cases, a victim was injured and in rare cases (some 0.05 percent) even killed. Most of these are crime of opportunity and often happen between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM, half on weekends. Parking lots are the most common place for carjacking to occur but they can happen anywhere.
These types of crimes have led to many civilian firearms advocates spouting the use of what I like to refer to as vehicle based long arms or VBL's. These can be shotguns, pistol-caliber carbines, and modern sporting rifles.
While a handgun is always much easier to conceal and used in an enclosed environment, it may be that you are in a hairy situation that 6-15 rounds may not be able to fully solve. It is these situations where you may want a VBL.
Securing and Concealing
Law enforcement has for generations carried long arms, such as shotguns and patrol rifles, for hairy situations. These have been secured inside the vehicle by any number of means while still maintaining fast access.
(Photo by Big Sky Racks)
Truck or rear-compartment storage is often preferred; however, this can lead to problems with rapid-retrieval. Thought needs to be placed into size, placement, and how you would bring the firearm into action if needed. This needs to be practiced with a safe, unloaded weapon to ensure functionality of your plan.
Many carjackings occur as the victim is actually outside of the car, such as walking to it in a parking garage or business parkinglot. This leaves your carbine or shotgun locked away in your vehicle with the bad guy between you and your weapon. It is a model crime, allowing a criminal to steal any vehicle they want without damaging it, they get the car keys, and they can rob the driver as a bonus. With this in mind, if you are a 'vehicle-gun' practitioner, you can see how you may be assisting in further arming these criminals. This further illustrates the case for why you should have your VBL well secured, concealed, or both which increase the chance of its still with the vehicle when/if it is recovered.
The long arm versus the threat
In most dangerous situations, you encounter while in your vehicle, you can paraphrase the cook in Apocalypse Now who constantly cried out, "Don't leave the boat!" In this same logic, do not leave the car! The quickest and best way to get out of many situations is to accelerate and move forward, or to drop down into reverse and flee. A 3000-pound car that you are in control of is better in many situations than any VBL you can fumble for.
Common carjacker techniques to stop moving vehicles are:
Stalled or 'disabled' vehicles
Simulated accidents blocking the roadway.
Pedestrian Panhandling, flyer handling, or 'window washing/newspaper sales'
The idea is to get you to stop, get out, or otherwise unsecure your car. It is best to avoid these situations politely. The karma you burn may save your life. However if you do stop, remember the cook and 'don't leave the car!' Keep it running and in gear. If it turns into a conflict, it may be safer to break contact and drive off than to stand your ground.
However, you may be trapped.
Some carjackers follow victims to their home, business, or other destination. Some of the more complex schemes involve block access to a garage door, driveway or roadway so that you cannot back away, pull forward, or go around. It is in these encounters where you may find yourself in need of a VBL that you can depend on if you refuse to be a victim.
- Keltec SU-16 with Surefire 60-round ultra capacity magazine. Photo by Oleg Volk.
Then there is the Reggie Denny case outlined in the first paragraph. You may ask, why didn't he just wait for help? The fact of the matter was that LAPD was in the area but was held back over concerns of officer safety. He was trapped. He never should have left the vehicle. He was unarmed.
Do not get trapped. Do not leave the boat unless it is sinking. Do not go unarmed unless you are OK with being a victim.
Keeping in mind with that, a VBL may be a good life preserver.