Friday, August 15, 2014

Gun Storage

Where do you keep your guns? Are they in a corner of the hall closet? Maybe you have a revolver in your sock drawer? Are you one of those who use trigger locks on your weapons? Do you have a gun safe? Well, I can honestly say, I’ve used all of these places at one time or another.
In this day and age securing your weapons is very important. There are several reasons. Safety is at the top of the list. My wife and I have some friends who we hardly hear from anymore. They had two wonderful sons. I spent a week at Scout camp with their oldest a few months before the accident. Apparently Dad was at work and Mom was in the shower. These two boys (pre teen and teen) got a hold of a loaded gun. They think the oldest boy accidently shot his brother and then was so distraught he took his own life. The horribly tragic accident not only took the lives of these two wonderful boys, but their parents ended up divorced over their guilt and sorrow. After this accident I locked up every one of my guns. My children have all learned gun safety and gun handling and hear the four safety rules from me all the time. As an instructor I know that these safety rules are the basics and foundation of owning, handling, and shooting any firearm. I would include paintball markers, airsoft guns, and air weapons (pellet and BB guns) in this category of firearm. Unless it shoots a Nerf product, I consider it a firearm. I would include also crossbows and bows and arrows.
Storage of these firearms should be taken seriously. Let me tell a story I’ve already told but I feel it should be retold. When I was younger I was much more foolish. I think I was a bit “ate up” as we say in the military. I was way too selfish and way over confident. As I got older I learned that being cautious is not being weak. By the time my older kids were closer to leaving home, I became a lot more safety minded. I did not lock up our guns in our home. I taught our children respect for and the operation of, many weapons. I thought that was enough, and thankfully, it was. One of my rules is, “Never leave home without a knife or a gun.” These weapons must be carried safely and lawfully. So as I write about guns, I speak from the present, not my “ill spent youth.” (I credit my wife with seeing more in me than I was!) I think I was lucky on many levels. Don’t rely on luck.
Gun security in a home with children is twofold. First, is physical security. I’ve caught our children in various places in our home through the years of their growing up. I’ve learned that just putting a gun up high could be a big mistake. At first when our kids were little we kept the guns up and unloaded. As they got older, I felt we needed a defense weapon close at hand. The only way I know to do this is a lock box. There are many on the market these days. They are a vault that will secure a weapon, or anything else you want secure, in a small box that can be accessed quickly with a code. There are some that are biometric, which means your finger print will open the box. I’ve never used the biometric vault and have read good things and bad things about them. At one time, we kept a semi-auto pistol near the bed with a magazine in it. My kids could not pull back the slide. I knew this because I took them to the range and had them try. They weren’t strong enough. Like I said, I was foolish. It did work, but who’s to say when they became strong enough? Or would they have a friend who was stronger? Use a lock box. They are not expensive enough to warrant not buying one. Your guns should be in a locked vault or a locked cabinet or safe. Most of our weapons through the years were semi-automatic. When storing them I never felt the need to keep them loaded. I did and do keep loaded magazines with them. Some of you will not like this practice. What if the secured cabinet is left open, you say. I do not agree with this, but my kids are older. Do what you feel is right and follow your local laws. Trigger and chamber locks are an option if you do not lock your weapons in a safe or locked cabinet. Remember, there are always Grand kids or friends or family’s young ones that will visit or stay in your home. Act appropriately. To me, the only loaded weapon ready to shoot should be in a locked box. Some will lock their stored weapons and lock ammo in another location. Lock and key (or combination) is the only sure way that no accident can occur. Like I said, when I was younger I stored weapons without being loaded and away from ammo, but that was dangerous and I do not recommend it.
There are many gun safes out there from the cheap sheet metal to the expensive and heavy vaults. Find what will fit your budget and your life. There are also gun cabinets that are really a piece of furniture. Some of these are beautiful. Usually they will have a window of some sort on the front to show off your weapons. This is good if you are not worried about securing your weapons against burglars or thieves. Vaults and safes will secure weapons for safety and security. Cabinets will keep guns safe but not necessarily secure. Some of these safes also employ camouflage. There are gun cabinet and safes that are under bed mattresses, in dressers and coffee tables. These are obvious and popular ways to store your weapons but there are other options.
Those options are building places that are hidden in your walls, floors, or ceilings. There are rooms that are hidden in your home with secret entrances. If you are building a home look at the dead space in places and consider building in these secrets. If you already live in your home there are areas you can explore and get to. Look on the internet to see what others have done to get your own ideas. Remember to not cut into walls without knowing where electrical wiring, plumbing and gas lines are located. Ceilings may have dead spaces that are long enough for rifles. Hand guns are easier to hide. There are racks for behind doors and under beds. These are more for a defense weapon that is easy to get to. There are also fake clocks, books, and picture frames that can hide a handgun. Remember that hidden guns can be found by children or even burglars. They are usually only hidden but not secured.
Another line of defense for safety are trigger or barrel locks. These will keep your weapons safe from those who may be at risk. Most new guns come with a lock of some kind or at least a hard case that can be locked. Use these locks especially if you have children in your home.
Last, but certainly not least, is education. Teach your kids, significant others, and anyone else who lives with you how to safely handle a gun. Show them that there is nothing to be afraid of and that guns are like tools. Teach them the 4 rules of gun safety. 1. All guns are loaded, 2. Never point a gun at something you don’t want to destroy, 3. Keep your finger off the trigger, 4. Know your target and beyond.
Store your weapons lawfully, safely, and securely. Train the household. Don’t give gun owners a bad name.
Semper Paratus