Trick or Treat: Halloween Safety for Gun Owners By: Kat Ainsworth

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For most people, Halloween is all about having fun. From the masks to the candy to the ability to dress up as anything you want, real or imagined, there’s a lot to say in favor of it. Then again, the masks, candy, and costumes can also provide the means by which a less-than-ideal human can prey upon others. Today we’re talking about Halloween Safety.

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As a firearms owner, how do you handle Halloween? Do you take your kids out trick-or-treating with or without your daily carry? Do you let your kids carry toy guns? We have some thoughts to share on ways to make your Halloween experience with your kids a bit safer, and we’re sharing them with you.

child dressed as witch
Is trick or treating even a good idea anymore? That’s a matter of opinion. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

Plan Your Route

The days when trick-or-treat involved a free-for-all through the neighborhood have become a thing of the past. There are pros and cons to that reality, but as a general rule, it’s always been and will be smarter to have a plan. This is especially true if you have older kids you’re allowing to go out begging for candy on their own. Here are some things to keep in mind for planning a route:

  • Go to houses where you know and trust the residents
  • Do not approach houses with the lights off
  • Do not enter an unknown yard with a closed gate, because you don’t know if there’s a dog protecting the property
  • Have a game plan that involves check-in times for older kids
  • If you’re letting older kids go alone, map out a route so you have a general idea of their whereabouts
  • Consider attending a trunk-or-treat event at a local church
  • Check out your city or town’s scheduled trick-or-treat events which usually include local businesses
  • Take younger kids by the fire department and police station, assuming those locations are handing out candy (many do)
  • Stick to the shoulder of the road or the sidewalk

Have a Family Halloween Safety Plan

It might seem like a no-brainer to have a family Halloween safety plan, and for life in general, but there are some things you might not have considered. Sure, it’s nice to wander down the street like a pack of costumed travelers out for a good time that involves candy, but it’s wise to head out with the expectation that attention must be paid to safety. This includes:

  • Carry an IFAK.
  • Have a tourniquet, if the IFAK doesn’t have one.
  • Keep your kids not only in front of you where you can see them, but close enough to grab at a moment’s notice.
  • If you and your significant other take the kids out together, plan in advance which one is responsible for taking control of the kids while the other handles the self-defense side of the equation, should the worst occur.
  • Make sure your kids understand what to do in a self-defense situation, making it age-appropriate, but don’t neglect the conversation entirely.
  • Even if you’re legally carrying a firearm, carry a secondary less-than-lethal method such as pepper spray.
  • Charge everyone’s phones.
  • Consider using a locator app on phones for the night.
  • Plan with your significant other how to wrangle the kids and who walks where.
  • Teach your kids to hold your off-side hand, not your strong-side hand.
  • Stay back a giant step as the kids knock on doors (hopefully, you’re going to the houses of people you know).
  • Maintain situational awareness. It’s all too easy to let your guard down on Halloween.
dad and toddler on stage
See any guns? No? The PHLster Engima is a stellar choice for AIWB carry regardless of what you’re wearing. (Photo credit: Michael Branson)

Carrying a gun? Do it legally.

We hope you carry on a daily basis, but there are some factors that might make carrying on Halloween frustrating. First of all, not all locations allow concealed carry; second, your own costume might appear to make it impossible to carry. The good news is that there are solutions to both of these issues.

  • Follow the law. Claiming ignorance of the law is never a valid legal defense.
  • If a trick-or-treat location prohibits firearms, consider whether that’s a place you really want to go, anyway.
  • Stick to concealed carry. Not that there is ever a fantastic time to open carry, but Halloween is absolutely not it.
  • Get some sort of self-defense insurance coverage from a reputable, established company. Do it now, before something goes wrong.
  • Use a holster like the PHLster Enigma, which is designed for AIWB carry under your clothing, to carry with skirts, leggings, or superhero tights. Whatever you’re wearing, the Enigma has you covered.
  • Know the self-defense laws in your area.
  • Use a proper retention holster and again, keep it concealed. Don’t make yourself the target for theft or the kind of hijinks some foolish kid might decide are a great idea for Halloween.
  • Pay extra attention to detail. On this night, it’s very possible things aren’t as they appear in a potential assault situation.
  • Give people wide berth. There’s no good reason to let people crowd you.
  • Make sure your kids know what to do and how to react if you’re forced to draw your gun.
phlster enigma holster
No belt, no problem. The PHLster Enigma makes it easy to secure your firearm on-body, even when you can’t or don’t want to attach a holster to your belt. (Photo credit: PHLster)

Check Candy, Within Reason

It’s an old joke that you need to cut open every single piece of candy your kid collects while trick or treating. And while it’s a great idea to do some checking, let’s face it, no one is going to cut every tiny piece apart. Instead, try this:

  • Scan packaged, store-bought candy for obvious signs of tampering
  • If a seal is broken, toss it out
  • Don’t eat homemade goods unless you’re familiar with the person who handed them out
  • Does the candy have a weird, totally unfamiliar label? Might be a good idea to toss it.
  • Does it have an unusual, strange smell? Toss it.
  • Bottom line: Go to the homes of people you know and you won’t have to worry nearly so much about this.

A Word About Masks

Masks are a common thing on Halloween, and we mean the costume kind, not the ones from the pandemic. Whether or not you allow your kids to wear masks is your choice as their parent. Here are some of our thoughts:

  • Masks should be easy to breathe in
  • Choose a mask that won’t make your kid overheat
  • Consider face paint and makeup instead of masks for older kids
  • No masks for adults
  • Take care not to fall into the trap of normalcy bias on Halloween masks, because you don’t know who might be behind it
dad with kids on halloween
Are masks a yes or no for your family? (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Final Spooky Season Thoughts

Maintaining situational awareness is always important and on Halloween it takes on an added layer of urgency. It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of complacency when the expectation for the night already includes screaming, yelling, masks, and getting bumped into or crowded. Try to separate yourself and your kids from that mayhem for safety’s sake. All sorts of fun can be had without taking unnecessary risks. And if all else fails, you can have a cool Halloween party at home.

kids on halloween
Above all, have fun. Halloween is a great time for making long-lasting memories. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Side note on toy guns? By and large, toy guns aren’t a great idea. There are a lot of props you can use that are clearly fake and unlikely to cause any problems.

What’s your costume plan this year? Tell us in the comments, or drop us a photo.