Here’s the thing. Children should NEVER have access* to guns. So whether or not you have children in the house should have no bearing on whether you buy a gun with an external safety.
Unless you plan to leave the gun out where they can get it.
One might also argue, that if you are choosing a gun with a thumb safety specifically because you think it will keep your children safer, that you’re opening up the option to not be vigilant with locking your guns up because somewhere in your head you think it’s safe. This is a recipe for a disaster of the worst kind.
So instead of discussing why this mechanism keeps your kids safe, let’s discuss why it might jeopardize your own ability to protect yourself or your child.
Here is why I won’t carry a gun with a thumb safety:
When all hell breaks loose and I need my gun, I don’t want one more thing to think about or that could go wrong – like I forgot to take the safety off. The average gun fight for a civilian will last 3-5 seconds. In that time I have to access my gun from concealment, get it on target and press the trigger. There is no extra time for mistakes.
With all of my training (over 400 hours), I am still unwilling to take a chance that a safety will trip me up in those vital seconds. My finger and training are my safety. I have trained to the point that I completely trust my ability to handle a gun without firing it when I don’t intent to.
That said. If you decide to carry a gun with a thumb safety, you absolutely must train religiously to use it properly. That means disengaging it when you come up on target, and re-engaging it when you come off target. Every single time you go up and come down off the target. You cannot just take the safety off for the duration of training and turn it back on when you leave the range.
I’ve heard multiple people tell me to just leave it off all the time. This is the worst advice of all. First, if the gun’s safe handling actually depends on the use of the safety, as is the case with 1911 style guns, it’s a serious safety hazard. Second, if it ever gets engaged accidentally while you are struggling for the gun, or it’s bumped against the wall, etc in a struggle – under the effects of adrenyline it will NEVER occur to you why your gun won’t fire BECAUSE you never practiced using it.
Ultimately, my children are safe, because I keep my guns inaccessible to them at all times, no exceptions, period the end unless under my direct supervision. Not because my gun would be too difficult for them to operate.
P.S. Grip safeties don’t fall under this category and I carry guns with and without them.