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Bill Costlow

Today is the last day of the “I Am a Gun Owner” series on the blog. We’ll continue to post all photos we receive on our Facebook page here. Please send your statement photo to [email protected] with the word PHOTO (all caps) in the subject bar. Let us know if you want us to use your name, a screen nic or remain anonymous.

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  1. …not if Doofus Boy knew the combination to the safe.

    My very responsible teenage daughter sure knows the combination because it’s in her interest to be able to access the protection she needs.

    • I once asked a firearms trainer how much time a person typically has with a home break in. His reply, 4 seconds, Randy

    • To tell the truth, we don’t know if the kid (AUTISTIC, mind you) had ever fired a gun before then, do we? That’s one hell of a beginner outing, if not. Must have been a quick study.

    • I have heard they were not secured, which is INFURIATING!

      Being armed is the great right, but it is also a great responsibility, not because the government say so, or because the insurance company says so, but because decent people make certain to use their power responsibly and shield it from irresponsible use.

      • Umm… no. It isn’t. We don’t know if they were in a safe, a locker, the shoe closet or unlocked racks on the wall. There’s nothing to suggest that ol boy wouldn’t have known the combo to the safe (if there was one) or that he didn’t simply force his mom to open the safe.

        “Safe Storage” laws are just another feel good measure that don’t even come close to addressing the real problem; criminals.

        • they’re not “feel good”. if YOU don’t store YOUR guns safely such that inept, irresponsible or crazy people don’t have access to them then you are criminally negligent. period.

  2. Even if the guns were stored in a safe, the shooter had plenty of time to defeat that safe once he was effectively alone in his mother’s house.

    “In a safe” != “perfectly secure from anyone who really wants them”

        • He would need a wrecking bar (tool), and to know where to pull (know how), and at least the Liberty Safe is have does not seem to be susceptible to that unless you have super human strength.

    • Plenty of time until the smell of the dead body caused some questions. Or maybe until a friend of the mother was looking for her.

      Who knows? A quality safe is better than a locked sheet metal cabinet or no locked container at all.

      I believe that if the mother was contemplating committing her son to an institution, due diligence requires a more secure storage container than a locked cabinet. If than in fact is how she stored her firearms. I have not seen any pictures or read a description of her storage container.

      • “Plenty of time until the smell of the dead body caused some questions. Or maybe until a friend of the mother was looking for her.”

        So… a couple of days of unfettered access?

        My “safe” keeps the kids, their friends, and the casual burglar from gaining access to my guns. It certainly doesn’t prevent access by someone that has 24+ hours to play, along with access to Home Depot.

        • Hell, the red iron oxide , aluminum, and sparklers in my garage give the burglar an easy way into my gun safe.

        • Depending on the quality of the safe he would need to know where to drill/grind to defeat the safe, regardless of time. And so far as any of us know the kid wasn’t especially handy around tools.

        • Anybody who paid attention in high school chemistry, or knew how to Google “thermite”, could defeat any consumer “gun safe” quite easily.

          My safe is pretty good. However, I’ve played “Mr. Science” with my kids. My 10-year-old could retrieve the ingredients from the garage and defeat my gun safe.

        • Did she have the ingredients in her garage? Did he know how to make thermite? Who knows.

          The issue isn’t that gun safes can be defeated, they can, with time, tools, and know-how. The issue is would a safe have sufficiently disrupted the causal chain to prevent what happened? We don’t know enough to be sure either way, and probably never will.

          That said, people should secure their guns, consistent with the need for access in self defense situations, but to the extent possible secure them.

        • It really doesn’t matter if she (or he, since he lived there) had the ingredients to make thermite in the garage.

          What’s important is the fact that any consumer “gun safe” is vulnerable if someone has a couple of hours to work at it. Thermite, Home Depot tools, whatever.

          Given that the Newtown shooter killed his mother and stole her firearms, what kind of “gun safe” would’ve prevented his actions? Sure, he may have been delayed somewhat, but he certainly would not have been stopped.

        • And hopefully the safe isn’t near anything extremely flammable. Such as the materials houses are made of.

  3. The bitter irony of this whole tragedy is that nobody is really talking about the relatively benign things that could have been done differently that would have had a better shot of preventing Newtown.

    Is a gun safe full proof? No. Would Lanza have killed another way? Maybe, or it may have delayed him long enough that he would have gotten the help (or commitment) he needed.

    Mandating secure storage is a tricky issue with lots of traps for the unwary, but it is nowhere near as likely to be as dangerous to the 2A as what we are seeing get traction now.

      • They said DC’s mandate that a gun be stored broken down and/rendered inoperable by a trigger lockw/o a self-defense exception is unconstitutional because it prevented use for self defense. It is unclear whether that would apply to mandated storage that allowed for quick access if you knew the code (a bedside safe) or for guns not used by the owners for self defense.

        Maybe they will hold that way but the opinion is not sufficiently explanatory and Scalia does include this bit of dicta:

        Nor, correspondingly, does our analysis suggest the invalidity of laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents.

      • The Court rules that DC’s requirements that guns be stored broken down or disabled without a self-defense exception was unconstitutional. They did not discuss how the other permutations, such as requiring a safe that provides quick operational access for the self defense gun, or storage of guns the owner does not intend to use for self defense may fair constitutionally.

    • I think mandated security is every bit as threatening to the 2A as any other attack. It still sets the precedent of government intrusion in one’s home and personal belongings, not to mention it begins a slippery slope where the eventuality is that you have to go to the government to get access to your guns, or you have to call 911 and they remotely unlock your safe once they deem it “necessary” for you to have your guns.

      • Those are valid concerns, though under Heller the scenario you describe would be unconstitutional. Of course, Heller is only as good as the SCOTUS that is sitting at the time.

        That said, like universal background checks, if you designed a system (or law) to avoid those problems you probably could do something to incentivise people to do secure storage without the parade of horribles you list.

        Would we need to worry that the law would get changed? Yes. Would that be a danger anyway because the votes you need to amend a law are the same you need to create a law, so if Congress was of the mind to screw us they could do it from scratch. Yes. And to the extent that secure storage prevented gun misuse it would provide less fodder/flashpoints for the gun grabbers to leverage.

      • > you have to call 911 and they remotely
        > unlock your safe once they deem it “necessary”
        > for you to have your guns.

      • When governments mandate safe storage there are eventual consequences from that. For example, In Great Britain, those few shotguns that are permitted and stored at home are mandated to be stored safely and the storage is subject to inspection. In a home invasion it has been ruled that the act of removing the shotgun from the storage location and loading it counted as “premeditation” at the gun owner’s murder trial.

        The way case law tends to creep, I really don’t want mandated storage codified into law.

    • Agreed, but why do gun owners who considerable themselves as “responsible” feel like a something isnt a good idea until the government passes a law making it a requirement. Here’s another prime example of how the nra and pro gun orgs have missed the mark. Secure storage of guns in safes would go a long way to prevent all kinds of gun related deaths, including kids shooting themselves.

      I’m a gun owner. I have a gun safe. There are no guns in my house that arent stored in a safe. I do this to protect my kids who as kids dont always demonstrate the best judegment all the time. I also do it to prevent my guns from getting stolen, as this would not only cause great financial harm to myself but also because if my guns were stolen it would prove only way that my guns could pose any threat to society.

      • I agree on the storage. In fairness though, the problem with our gun politics is the anti-side generally doesn’t operate in good faith. It is rarely “Hey, here is a minimally invasive thing that could actually help, tailor to minimize the burden on lawful conduct.” It is usually something designed to harm lawful gun ownership masquerading as a reasonable thing.

        I hope, when the current madness passes, that within gun culture we can talk about best practices to avoid firearms misuse. This will be good for the future of the 2A in that it will hopefully lead to fewer tragedies, which means fewer opportunities for grabbers to wave the bloody shirt.

      • I’m a gun owner. I have a gun safe. There are no guns in my house that arent stored in a safe.

        So your guns in your house are not intended for self defense?

        Most of my guns are typically stored in my safe. That’s only as a deterrent to a) the casual thief and b) my kids’ friends.

        Some of my guns, in my house, are easily and quickly accessible to me. That is, they’re most definitely not in any kind of “safe”. They’re available for self defense. They might be carried on my person, they might be lying next to me on a table. They’re certainly not locked up somewhere such that I cannot get to them easily.

    • +1

      by resisting responsible measures that would not have infringed upon 2A rights, the NRA has set the stage for the shit storm that is playing out now.

      one day (hopefully) more of “us” will see the damage that the NRA has done to the 2A over the last 30 years.

      • There’s no such thing as “responsible measures” which infringe upon a natural or God-given right. If you value your freedom, infringement is inherently irresponsible.

        • Right on RF!

          “…a gun safe could have prevented…”
          The operative word being “could”.

          An armed principle, administrator or teacher “could” have prevented the shooting.

          Requiring by law all guns to be secured in a safe “could” cost hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives if the means to self defense is inaccessible.

          “Could” is a pesky little word.

  4. Every commonly sold gun safe (RSC) can be utterly destroyed by a $50 angle grinder from Home Depot. Seriously if it is UL rated as an RSC that is a printed guarantee that it can be defeated by an angle grinder in under 10-20 minutes.

    Lanza could have bought an angle grinder, and opened up the gun safe in less than 10-20 minutes. He could obviously drive and goto stores on his own so nothing would have kept him from making sure he could break into the gun safe if he needed.

    Never mind that his mother trusted him enough to leave the weapons unsecured, if she’d had a safe, chances are she’d have let him know the combo to it as well.

    The belief that a gun safe would have stopped Sandy Hook is f***ing ridiculous.

    • My ammo safe is just RSC but my gun safe is Class B. Class B Weighing in at 2 to 4 times the mass of an RSC safe, Class B security safes are a vast step up in protection. A Class B high security safe is equipped with a 1/2 inch solid steel door and 1/4 inch solid steel walls on all 5 sides. At it’s core, this is a safe with a substantial foundation, one capable of easily resisting hours of brute force abuse by amateur criminals.

      At the end of the day, any determined and skilled crook will break into anything.

  5. I believe if the ACLU had not stepped in on state assembly proceeding in the January before what happened in Sandy Hook to further F**** with CT mental health laws, and if CT actually had a viable mental health system, that person with a mental health issue could have been kept from committing his crime. Althought, a safe would have “maybe” of helped as well.

  6. I keep any not currently in use locked up but do not want the government to feel compelled to verify that with on-site inspections.

  7. Interesting thought Bill, and I think most folks are inclined to agree that Lanza’s mother probably should have taken more steps (including better storage of her firearms) to prevent her son from doing it what he did… though at this point, hindsight is 20/20.

    Thanks for speaking out!

  8. A. It quickly becomes quite clear which posters know jack about safes, and which no pretty much nothing about safes. They are not much more effective than taking your shoes off at the airport. OK, maybe a little, but not much more.

    B. Why are so many applauding Mr. Bill Costlow, who wishes to shift blame for one persons evil acts to a deceased person? This is morally unacceptable, and cowardly.

    C. The ONLY person responsible for the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting is…….. the shooter.

    • +1

      A “safe” is no such thing. At most, it’s a slight delay.

      FLAME DELETED A safe would’ve “prevented” nothing. At best, a safe might’ve delayed the carnage by a few hours.

      • To address the “FLAME DELETED” (woo-hoo! my first!)…

        OK, I’ll rephrase:

        Costlow is an uninformed individual who, either intentionally or by plain luck, demonstrates ignorance in the performance of both safes and criminals.

        Better? Or did the part between “rephrase:” and “Better” get replaced by “FLAME DELETED”?

    • Why are so many applauding Mr. Bill Costlow, who wishes to shift blame for one persons evil acts to a deceased person? This is morally unacceptable, and cowardly.

      you have a warped sense of morality.

      if you knowingly give a mentally unstable person easy access to a firearm, then you are VERY responsible for the consequences. in fact, I’d say that you claimed no responsibility in such a situation, then YOU are the morally degenerate coward.

    • Not everyone.

      Some of us understand that a “safe” is nothing more than a small delay for the determined (or halfway intelligent) criminal.

      Especially if he has already killed every other occupant of the house.

      • I may have overgeneralized when I said “everyone here”. However, I also assume you didn’t look at what I posted. I may be wrong; it just doesn’t seem like you did.

        • I did, but it’s possible that I didn’t “get it”.

          What I would say without looking at your link: it’s really not that hard to break into a consumer-level “gun safe”, given enough time.

          What I would say after looking at your link: [same as above plus], or, I could just threaten him or his family until he opens the safe for me.

          Either way, the “safe” is easily defeated.

        • @DonS: Couldn’t reply to your post, but yeah, that’s all I meant by it, really. Wasn’t trying to be condescending or anything either. I apologize if it sounded that way.

          (Sidenote: I’m a computer nerd…so…it just seemed that complaining about the safe was too “inside the box”.)

  9. I Am Adam Lanza’s Therapist

    Here’s a good audio reading of this very compelling article on YouTube.

    Thanks, Bill. IMO, you may be right, a gun safe may have prevented it, but I find it hard to believe that no-one in the family or in the community who really knew the shooter didn’t know he was potentially dangerous. Or, at least knew he was mentally ill and that there were firearms in the house and could have encouraged her to keep them locked up and away from him.

    Or, better yet, given him the care he really needed. That right there could be the ultimate cause of this. Did he get enough psychological care? Did his parents give him enough love when he was young when he needed it the most?

    The article linked above is highly compelling, I encourage everyone to check it out.

    • +1

      Though everyone is ultimately accountable for their own actions, and nobody will probably ever truly know the relationship between Lanza and his mother, it’s hard to NOT see that she bears some of the responsibility for what he did.

      She knew he was having mental / social problems… bad enough that she withdrew him from school.

      She either knowingly gave / permitted him to take medication that may have exacerbated his psychosis.

      She trained him how use the guns she kept, taking him to the range, without thought that someone suffering from his issues like he did would use it someday for others. And she chose to keep those firearms in her own home, knowing full well her son’s issues and his potential ability to access those weapons.

  10. It gun safe? Really? We all have our opinions, but I’m thinking he was pretty determined. After all, he murdered his own mother. Yeah, my guns are locked up, but someone who really wants them doesn’t have to know how to use thermite to break it open. How about just eliminating kill zones? I bet Mrs Lanza never once thought her son capable of such a horrible act. IMO


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