Yesterday, I penned a post postulating that a responsible gun owner keeps his or her guns locked up. A couple of commentators saw the pic of my gun safe (if only) and connected the wrong dots. They were not well pleased. “So, someone breaks into a home, and steals something–that’s the criminal’s fault. But if they steal a gun, then it’s the homeowner’s fault for the theft of the gun. And the criminal is no longer at fault?” commentator supton demanded. “Am I following this correctly?” My wife says sarcasm is a tearing of the flesh. Consider me stripped to the bone. There was more filleting to follow . . .
“Guns that are locked up are USELESS in the event of a home invasion,” Greg protested. “So to say that any gun owner who does not keep their collection locked up in their own home is irresponsible, Mr. Farago, is absolutely hypocritical and vapid in my opinion.”
Now that hurts. Especially as 1) I am not now nor have I ever been a Valley Girl and 2) I place a high value on emergency access to firearms and 3) I agree that it’s none of the government’s business how you store your firearms (even where it is) and 4) you don’t need The Mother of All Gun Safes to keep your guns safe (unless you do).
That last parenthetical snark reflects my belief that firearms security is a variable that demands constant attention. How and where you store your guns should change in accordance with the threat level, your abilities and your home defense plans.
If your overnight guest is a felon recently convicted of aggravated (or even slightly peevish) assault, keep your friends close and your guns closer. If you live alone on an island inside a fortress, there are worse things than simply leaving loaded guns in a number of strategic locations. Especially if the island is owned by one Dr. Moreau. If you’re a member of MIB, you’re best advised to maintain a hidden, secure storage facility.
Equally, if a member of your family is facing drug-related or mental health challenges, or becomes involved with unsavory characters, it’s time to take your firearms storage practices to the highest possible level. Including the possibility of removing some or all your guns from the home.
That’s your call. Your responsibility. Not the government’s.
On this point I will not budge. Gun owners have a moral obligation to keep their guns safe from workmen, family members, guests and uninvited guests (i.e. thieves). As our resident sit-down comic Ralph said (in an important moment of seriousness), “If someone parks his car on the street and leaves his keys in it and a joyriding teenager steals it and runs somebody over, doesn’t the owner share some of the blame?”
Yes. “To whom much is given, much will be required,” as another nice Jewish boy once said. A gun bestows upon its owner the power of life and death. Is it so much to ask that those blessed with the ability to wield this power in defense of themselves and their loved ones ensure that this power does not fall into the hands of people who would misuse it? It is not.
On a more practical level, I ascribe to the rabbi’s basic principle that a gun should either be on your person or locked-up in a gun safe. (Preferably more than one gun and both.) If you feel that a locked gun safe is an impediment to quick and foolproof emergency access—a proposition with which I heartily agree—then wear the damn gun.
Put a revolver in your pocket and an invader won’t be quite so pleased to see you. Strap something bigger and badder on your hip and tell your kids it’s hip to be aware. A home carry piece on your person won’t get stolen and you won’t leave it hanging about where small or evil hands can get ahold of it (at least not without a tussle, providing you develop ablution protocols). A home carry gun provides immediate firepower and precious time you can use to fight/run to your long gun.
Which would be in the safe. Locked? Well, I live in Rhode Island where OF COURSE all my gun safes are locked. As much as I teach my children firearms familiarity and safety, I repeat: ALL my safes are ALWAYS locked.
That’s safes plural. I recommend small handgun safes here and there; a larger, not so grand safe for quick access to a long gun; and a larger, more significant unit elsewhere for long-term storage. That’s a lot of safes. And a lot of money. The gentleman from Rhode Island turns the floor over to our esteemed colleague John Fritz:
All of [my guns] are insured, all of my handguns (save the one in carry rotation) are secured in a lock-box. All of the long guns have triger locks installed and reside in soft cases in various location around my apartment.
It’s not enough apparently but it’s the best I can do under my current circumstances. I exercise due diligence to the best of my ability but a gun safe? Not a realistic solution for me. What else can I do that I haven’t already done…
Buy a gun safe. By “proper” I mean a safe that thieves can’t prise open in minutes or simply remove from the premises. (Remove perhaps, but not simply.) Every gun owner should have at least one. That’s the one you use for guns that you don’t need RIGHT NOW. And thieves don’t need ever. If you don’t have an alarm system, when you leave your abode unattended, move you guns from their satellite locations to the mothersafe. And then back.
That’s a PITA (another good reason for home carry). And I understand financial limitations. But I also understand that there’s an extremely high likelihood that a stolen gun will be used in a crime. I’m not naive enough to think that one less stolen gun will mean one less crime. But I don’t want my gun used for evil. Nor do I want to give gun control advocates the satisfaction of saying “See? He wasn’t responsible enough to own a gun.”
If money’s too tight to mention, buy one handgun and a secure lockbox (with tether), wear the gun around the house and put it in the box (in a discreet location) when you can’t carry or when you’re sleeping.
Ah sleep. Perchance to dream. Or have nightmares. And the nightmare that plagues many if not most and perhaps even all gun owners is the BITN (Bump In The Night) scenario. You’re sleeping peacefully, there’s an almighty crash (or a gentle window break tinkling). You need your gun NOW! You fumble with the keys to your gun safe or mis-punch the combo and . . . you’re dead.
I would dearly love to know some stats on this, the sum of all fears. How many home invasions happen at night? How much time does the average homeowner have before an invader or invaders reaches their inner sanctum? How many times does a child steal a gun left on a night table at night? How many owners leave their night table gun out during the day? In the drawer?
How long does it take the average sleeping person to wake-up, get their gun from a safe, and achieve enough consciousness to accurately assess shoot/don’t shoot? How many gun owners have an alarm system? How many use it? How many use it during the day? Early evening? Does an alarm stop a home invader? Some? Most? A minority (so to speak)?
This much I know: if I lived in a state where it was OK to leave a loaded gun in close proximity while I slept, I would do so. I would ensure that my children had a firm grasp of gun safety. I would unlock the bedside gun safe at night and lock it again during the day. I would move the gun from the small safe to the larger one if I was going on vacation. And I would have an alarm system.
I don’t pretend to have the “answer” to your gun storage safety needs. That depends on a large number of variables. But this much is true: you are responsible for your guns, both when you’re with them and when you’re not. To believe anything less is dangerous for society, and for you personally. There are cases where gun owners have been shot with guns that burglars found inside the owner’s home. That kind of irony you don’t need.