All Guns Are Always Unlocked: Guns for Beginners

In the report above, the reporter holds up a key to one of those small cable locks that comes with most firearms. It’s flimsier than a paper clip. She says “experts tell me that you should keep the key on you at all times . . . that way you’ll ensure that this gun is never used for the wrong reasons.” Rubbish. Both the lock and the argument. Well the argument sucks because of the cable lock. Anyone older than a toddler can defeat the standard issue “gun lock” in seconds. That’s why you must view . . .

all guns as unlocked. Seriously. Even when you move up from a cable lock to a finger safe, gun cabinet and/or a proper gun safe, you must assume that your gun or guns are never 100 percent secure. There is always a chance that they will be stolen or “borrowed” by an unauthorized user — which can have tragic consequences.

Kids are clever enough to defeat any storage system, whether it’s a locked liquor cabinet or a full-on gun safe. And criminals will use force to steal your weapons — against your safe or you. Like gun safety, gun security is between your ears. Here are my four rules of gun security.

1. Train your children and significant other to respect firearms.

Ignorance = curiosity, not bliss. Familiarize your kids and SO with firearms. Have them shoot (or shoot for them) a watermelon or something similar so they appreciate a gun’s destructive capabilities. The more they understand firearms, the less likely they are to play with them or handle them improperly.

At the same time, teach your loved ones to know and practice The Four Rules of Gun Safety. And monitor their mental health. If a loved one’s suffering from depression and/or caught up in drug abuse, consider removing your guns from the home. (Same goes for your own mental state.)

2. Increase your firearms-related situational awareness when people enter your home: friends, extended family, cleaners, workmen, etc.

You don’t have to shadow friends and strangers, but become aware of the heightened risk. Take appropriate action. For example, you might want to temporarily move a gun out of a smaller “finger” safe into a full-size gun safe (if you have one). Or hide the finger safe.

3. Alarm your house – use your alarm system!

An alarm system will stop most burglars when you’re away from home. Set your alarm system when you leave and, especially, at night. (I prefer perimeter-only systems.) To deal with so-called “hot” burglaries, make sure you have an alarm system with a “panic button” to trigger the alarm. Equally important . . .

4. Home carry

If bad guys invade your home while you’re there, they’re going to want your guns. If they get control of the situation they will force you to unlock your gun safe. At that point, they will be well-armed and disinclined to leave a witness or witnesses.

It’s a rare occurrence — of course and thankfully — but one that has to be stopped at the earliest possible moment. I recommend a small gun for home carry, one that’s comfortable beyond any other other consideration. One that you will carry.

comments

  1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Home carry is a good idea, but not a requirement, by my measure.

    If it’s close enough, it’s close enough. And close enough isn’t just for horseshoes and hand grenades.

    1. avatar Newshawk says:

      True. It’s also good for the occasional thermonuclear device.

  2. avatar Cliff H says:

    All very good advice. My biggest laugh at the so-called gun locks that arrive with the guns you buy is that no matter how good the lock is at preventing the gun from firing it does NOT prevent the gun from being stolen or otherwise removed to a place where removing the lock is simply a matter of tools and mechanics. Don’t lock the gun’s mechanism, lock up the gun in its entirety.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      I see those as being acceptable to lock a gun while it’s in sight but not firing (say you’re in the woods shooting with your kid). That’s about it.

  3. avatar Frank in VA says:

    I wish there were more affordable lock boxes on the market that can’t be defeated by a kid after a five minute search on YouTube. I don’t particularly need a safe that costs more than my guns and can stand up to a burgler with a sawzall or blowtorch. Just something I put my pistol in that will keep visiting young’uns out when I am in the shower or whatever. I ended up drilling holes in my Snap-On pistol box so I could secure the door with an super-pick-resistant Abloy Protec2 luggage padlock I got for $35 from Security Snobs. Their full size padlocks cost hundreds and have the same key mechanism as mine, which is considered one of the holy grails of difficult lock picking. The end result of what I made is a little clunky looking.

    All the lock box models I see at sporting goods stores and gun shops around here seem to be the ones that you can hotwire with a paperclip or by bumping it the right way. They are a joke.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Attention TTAG –

      How about considering an annual gun safe – vehicle lock box roundup?

      New models get released, some get discontinued…

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Frank,

      If you just want something to prevent a child from accessing a handgun, buy a Pelican case and install two padlocks on it. No child is going to open those locks unless they find the key. And the way Pelican cases are made, no child is going to open that case unless they unlock the padlocks.

      Bonus: you can use that Pelican case to transport your handgun in checked luggage when you fly in the United States!

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        I think we need to worry less about a kid defeating our gun safes. I’ve seen the videos and some of these kids have to have been coached. Even if they weren’t, you’re talking about a confluence of determination and persistence that many toddlers don’t possess. I am NOT saying be cavalier about keeping guns away from kids. Put it in the best safe you can afford and put that safe somewhere their grubby paws can’t reach — until they’re old enough to understand the four rules.

        1. avatar Frank in VA says:

          You are probably right on the coaching. The problem is the how-to is now online for anyone to see, and YouTube is the coach. I’m not so worried about toddlers as I am older kids and tweens who know how to find stuff online faster than any of us probably do because they can type 120wpm with their thumbs and have the Internet in their pocket all day.

    3. avatar Wilson says:

      @Frank:

      To me the issue isn’t locking things up, it’s putting them in places they won’t be found. Burglars (and kids) can’t fool around with what they don’t find.

      I know the knocks on the GunVault MiniVault (the paperclip thing you mentioned) but that’s not possible if they can’t find it. Years back I was the victim of a burglary. All the locks and security precautions didn’t prevent them from getting to me AR or my Browning T-Bolt, but I took the bolt from the T-Bolt and the firing pin from the AR out of the guns before storing them (the latter nearly cost a criminal his life when the gun went click and he expected it to go bang). Yeah, that sucked, but there wasn’t much that would have stopped these guys.They took down multiple doors with what I assume was an ax.

      However, I didn’t lose the four pistols that were in the house. They were all locked in my MiniVault which was super glued to the bottom of a small table that had my computer’s printer on it. It was in a fairly open area but the safe was invisible to the thieves. They completely ransacked the house and even stole the printer, but they never found that MiniVault, and they must have walked right past it numerous times.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    Thieves love cable locks. Because the wire is strained and not solid instead of bringing bolt cutters, they only need to bring some cheap pair of wire cutters. It’s probably faster than picking the lock I would imagine.

  5. avatar OneOfTheGoodGuys says:

    I home carry the same handgun that I EDC. I carry that sucker all day long … what’s a few more hours.

  6. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

    You forgot
    6) Get a good safe. Not a gun safe. The best place to get a good safe at a reasonable price is to look in the Business Supplies section of Craigslist. You can buy a TL30 rated (real) safe for under $2K.

    If you are older than 21, you should not own a single gun lock. All your unused guns should either be in that safe or (if you don’t have kids) in a good hiding place. In fact a good hiding place is better than a cheap safe, since the safe typically draws the attention of burglars.

    My general rule of thumb is that my guns are either on me or in my safe. We make other arrangements at night, but you get my point.

    Don

    p.s. My home carry piece is a G26 or a Kahr P380. The Kahr is small enough to be an “always” gun.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Inside the walls! That way when you need them, you can just bust your fist through the drywall and rip out an AR15 ready to go.

      1. avatar anaxis says:

        I’ve thought about it, but I shoot often enough that I’d constantly be patching up holes….. and I ain’t got time for that.

      2. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

        In CT, before kids, I had my bedroom gun under a false air register, with a surefire flashlight and a spare mag.

        I also stored my machine gun in a false air return duct coming from my air handler. It was directly over my “honeypot” safe. A cheap Sentry. The real safe was hidden. The Sentry contained bullets and brass. All inert stuff. The duct was actually where I stored the guns most likely to get me in hot water if stolen.

        With respect to hiding. Kids change everything. With a monitored alarm, a burglar has 5-10 minutes to find and defeat your safe.

        Kids have a lifetime to find your guns. Kids notice things that you don’t notice them noticing. (Hmm). Like that time Johnny walked into the basement while you were putting the machine gun in the duct. Nope. Once my kids were 2ish, everything went into a safe. Then I moved to MA where it all had to go into a safe anyway. Ha.

        Don

        1. avatar Frank in VA says:

          True. By the time I was 12 I had figured out where my dad hid his shotgun, his Redman chewing tobacco, and his stash of Playboys.

    2. avatar Gman says:

      I bought a Navy 5 drawer Mosler safe file cabinet for $50 at DRMO. Good luck getting into that kiddies. This is where most of my handguns and ammo are stored and it works great. Is it fireproof, not really. But it didn’t cost thousands either.

      1. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

        Gman – you may be better covered than you thought. Most homeowners policies have a $2000 limit on firearms agains THEFT. But most also will cover firearms to the limit of the policy with respect to fire and flood. That’s why I tell people that if you have limited funds or weight allowance, spend it on steel, not aggregate or fireboard.

        Don

  7. avatar Tom says:

    I home carry the same firearm I carry daily as well.
    Also have a street howitzer close by if I need it.

  8. avatar Jim says:

    And a knife. Carry a knife at home, too.

  9. avatar LarryinTX says:

    New gun safe, still figuring it out. I tend to want all guns in the safe unloaded, yet I hear that an invader will demand that I open it, do I want a loaded gun inside? My whole family understands that I do not plan to submit to “do what I say or I kill the kid” type shit, if they are the “kid”, be prepared to move when I do. Really, I figure by the time any intruders find the safe, I will be several hours dead, but you still have to consider, right? Is the pump shotgun inside or out? Is there any rational reason why the gold and diamonds should not be in the same safe, as opposed to a safety deposit box at the bank? I thought the safe would solve problems, it seems to have created new ones.

    1. avatar Joel says:

      I have a fire safe, and a gun cabinet. Generally, the guns in the fire safe are kept unloaded. It takes almost a minute just to unlock the damn thing. The guns in the cabinet (master bedroom) are kept loaded. And cabinet is locked during the day. Unlocked at night.

      12ga, a 22lr rifle, and my boys pellet guns are kept in the cabinet. I set my EDC on top of it at night.
      The safe has collectables and other valuables. (I don’t have a safe deposit box, but I don’t have anything that’s really valuable either.)

      My wife keeps her gun in her dresser at night and in a different hiding place downstairs during the day. As much as I would like her to home carry all the time, I’m really just glad she moved from ‘guns are evil!’ To owning and occasionally carrying one. 😉

    2. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

      My wife and I have a very simple, and effective protocol that we strictly adhere to.

      We treat all guns like their loaded. That’s a given.

      However, if a gun is in the safe and it is in a holster, you can COUNT ON it being loaded.

      She competes with a G34 and shoots it well. I have spray painted (krylon fusion) its holster neon yellow, so if something goes bump in the night, she knows exactly what gun she wants.

    3. avatar Wilson says:

      The wife and I don’t have kids, so that colors my approach to this.

      Personally I keep the vast majority of my guns in my safe and unloaded. I don’t really expect to be able to pull some James Bond type thing if someone’s got a gun to my head to try to force me to open the safe. Instead, I try to avoid that possibility all together… the idea being that if someone has a scheme to try to force me to open the safe they’re going to die on my floor before they get to the part of the plan where I open the safe. If it all goes pear shaped, well then I’m dead and not opening that safe for them. Simply put, there’s too much stuff in there that does not need to be in criminal hands and I’m not going to arm an entire gang or make a phone call to the ATF about all the NFA gear that just went missing.

      That in mind I try to have a “layered” approach to this.

      First off I carry a pistol in my house. Loaded, one in the tube, safety off.

      Second, I have three large dogs. They don’t take kindly to strangers coming into the house uninvited and they’re extremely loud if something like that happens. I also have a security system.

      Third, I have weapons located around my house that are loaded. Primarily located next to fire extinguishers are 12 gauge shotguns. They’re locked to the wall with a device called a “Shot Lock” which is attached to a wall stud by 4″ deck screws. Now, this device is semi-flimsy and it’s not going to hold up against someone who really wants to open it and has the time to do so, but that’s not the point. When properly deployed this device locks the pump or the operating handle on a shotgun. This means you can keep your shells in the tube and have fast access to your firearm. People who aren’t supposed to have access to these guns can’t discharge one.

      Yes, the Shot Lock can be ripped off the wall and opened by someone who removes it from your house, but inside the house even if a meth head rips it off the wall all they’ve gotten themselves is a club since they can’t chamber a shell. Meanwhile I’m opening another one and it’s your club vs my LE 00 Buck.

      Forth, I have a bedside pistol that I keep loaded but without one in the tube. It’s a full sized USP .45 with a TLR-2 light/laser combo and a Silencerco Osprey suppressor on it. The wife has a G21 Tactical with a Glock weapons light and another Osprey. (We like .45 in this house, but we like suppressed .45 even better.)

      As for other stuff in your safe. I keep mainly firearms, magazines, suppressors, other accessories etc in my safe. However, I do keep certain things I might need. Passports, cash, copies of ID’s, copies of my tax stamps etc. The kind of stuff you want to keep locked up but may need quick access to in an emergency, I keep in my safe. Especially the kind of stuff you would need for some sort of family emergency where you get a phone call in the middle of the night and have to be out of state in the next few hours.

      Jewelry and such goes into the safety deposit box.

  10. avatar Cody says:

    Exposing children to the shooting of firearms is a great way to teach them respect. My 5 year old was in absolute understanding of the capability of guns after seeing, hearing, and experiencing holding a gun being fired (while in his father’s lap). For now, his curiosity has been satiated.

    1. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

      My 6 and 8 year old both shoot. We also drill on Eddie the Eagle at least monthly. I will leave a 20 year old black “blue gun” around the house. (no orange or orange tip)The girls all think its a real gun. If they 1) stop, 2) don’t touch 3) leave the area 4) tell me. They get a star. Since they have to buy screen time with stars (10 minutes per star) they are very eager to run and tell me when they find a “gun”.

      Don

  11. avatar Gman says:

    Manufacturer provided cable locks are nothing but fodder from morons who think this makes people safer. If you are going to own firearms, and have a need to keep them away from prying fingers, then man up and get a safe. The only reason I don’t throw those damn locks away is they increase the resale value if they, and all the rest of the OEM stuff, are still in the original box.
    In short, these locks are a placebo for the weak minded.

  12. avatar J says:

    “…keep the key…”

    They come with 2 keys. Where does her “expert” think the other one should go? Just like her story, I got a few places I can think of but she might need a dr for retrieval.

  13. avatar Don from CT (Escaped to MA where at least there are lots of good jobs) says:

    Its funny. In the 90s, Connecticut passed a law requiring all dealers to sell the buyer a lock with the purchase of a firearm. Then guns started coming with locks. The absurdity is that the AG’s office still insisted on interpreting the law as meaning that even if a lock comes with the gun, the customer must still buy one.

    I had a couple of large coffee cans of master trigger locks before I gave most of them away.

    (gun locks are only for people too poor or dumb to buy a safe)

    Don

  14. avatar Shane says:

    I never found any use for the locks that come with many firearms, but “safe storage” is one of the few “gun control” measures I could get behind, if the law were written correctly.

    If not carrying or using a firearm, it should be stored to make unauthorized access very difficult. Biometric safes are still expensive but getting cheaper, and it takes nary a second to access a firearm in a good lock box. In fact, it probably would be faster than trying to find a pistol in your sock drawer since your gun would be in the same position at all times.

    Newtown might have been prevented if the mother had stored her firearms in a safe with biometric access. If so, gun control advocates might not now have that most horrific example of “gun violence” to use against all gun owners. Most importantly, twenty innocent kids might be in the fourth grade today.

    I think it’s wise for Second Amendment supporters to consider measures that might reduce violence and accidents involving guns. Not bans. Not ownership limits. But would safe storage really be an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms?

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