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I’ve taught my children gun safety. They know the Four Rules. I could leave any of my kids alone in a room with a gun and know they won’t touch it. But I don’t. Why would I? The universe is full of ridiculous random shit. For example, “Justin Stanfield Thomas, 35, along with his son, traveled from Phoenix to Prescott Valley south of Flagstaff on Friday for a surprise visit to a friend’s home. The young boy quickly found a loaded .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun, asked a question about it and pulled the trigger, Prescott Valley police Sgt. Brandon Bonney said.” At the very least, it’s a double fail: a child old enough to ask questions about guns—who wasn’t instructed about gun safety—messing with the firearm of a sleeping owner who didn’t secure his weapon whilst in the Land of Nod. It could have been you . . .

More than a few of our readers have admitted that they stash loaded firearms around the house so they can access a gat in an emergency—while still keeping the weapon safe from unintentional use. Again, double fail.

The vast majority of gun owners are not Conan the Barbarian. Any violent “action” in their home is not going to be a mano-a-mano close quarters battle to the death (domestic disputes excepted). It will be, as Thomas Hobbes would put it, nasty, brutish and short.

A gun owner’s best strategy for defeating a home invader is the same as it is for any gun fight: land telling shots before the bad guy or guys disable or destroy you. (Either that or escape.) Quick access is key. No matter what caliber cartridge you bring to bear, no matter what level of marksmanship you can muster, the faster you get your gun into play the greater your odds of survival.

What could be faster than having a gun on your person? What could be safer? A safe, obviously. But a gun safe isn’t a safe place for your gun when you really, really need it. So . . . home carry. Small gun, pocket carry. Big gun, holster carry. Comfort, not caliber, is critical. If your rig is uncomfortable you won’t carry it.

Ah, but what if you’re asleep?

Although you can nap in the arms of Morpheus with a gun in your holster or pocket, a quick access small safe is a better bet for a proper sleep cycle and quick access. That said, how quick is quick? As Sgt. Brandon Bonney says, “We’re still responsible for our weapons. But do we require people to lock them up all the time no matter what, which might defeat the purpose of home defense?”

No, we shouldn’t “require” gun owners to do anything. We should require them to be held accountable for their actions. That said, I believe a gun should either be on your hip or in a safe. The trick to maintaining control of your weapon whilst asleep, showering or performing other “gun free” activities at home: put it in a safe and secure the perimeter.

The tragedy above could have been avoided if the gun owner had secured his house—regardless of where he’d stored his firearm. If Mr. Thomas’ snoozing friend had received a heads-up that someone was entering his home he could have secured his firearm. Which should have been secured anyway but you know what I mean.

Switching that principle around for self-defense, if you know someone’s trying to gain access into your house you have time to get your gun, whether that’s on your hip or in a safe.

Lock your doors and windows when you’re napping, showering, whatever. Set your perimeter alarm. [NB: some key-fob activated systems emit a high-pitched squeal before the alarm goes off, giving you time to stand down if, say, a BFF and his son walk in unannounced.] Dogs have provided an intruder alert long before Bezerk seared that phrase into Baby Boomer’s brains.

It’s not that hard to maintain control of your weapon for everyone’s safety. You simply have to create common sense gun safety habits and stick with them at all times. The upside: peace of mind. The downside of not following suitable storage protocol? It’s too horrible to contemplate. Which should not stop you from doing so, lest Lady Luck make your life endless misery.

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  1. But, uh… hey! What should be the approach for someone who’s gotten old enough that sleep cycles are basically random and without recognizable structure?

    • Have a dog. If you’re home, lock the doors. Home carry if comfortable, a safe nearby if not.

  2. I wouldn’t think of having my primary carry gun anywhere but on me. It amazes me how many people tell me they have guns “hidden” in their home.

    • I concur. Carry gun on me while I’m awake, a closet quick-access rifle safe for a long gun, and a bedside quick-access handgun safe for my carry gun while I’m sleeping.

  3. I think this is a bogus story. 1 shot from a .380 took down this healthy looking man? I’ve been told repeatedly by expert commentators on TTAG that nothing short of a .45 will do that.

    • A .380 won’t take out a bad guy in time but a .22 will kill a good guy… some kind of screwed up rule of the universe I’ve seen.

    • Heh. A .380 may not reliably kill an attacker, but you can drown in a puddle given the right combination of unlucky circumstances. You still shouldn’t surround your house with puddles and feel safe.

    • You gotta be careful. . . for a second, there, my sarcasm meter didn’t go off.

      However, what you say is true. Shoot someone with a .45 in the pinkie, and they spin around in a pink mist and fall stone-effing-dead out of sheer ballistic manliness. A .380 bullet can usually be plucked from the outer skin layer with tweezers, or squeezed out like a pimple. This poor guy must’ve been shot through the eye, or ear, or something.

  4. Maintain Control of Your Weapon at All Times. The only way to avoid a lifetime of child support.

  5. Yea, I saw that. What a tragedy. My weapon is either on my person, in the safe or on my nightstand behind locked doors. And yes, I am 100% responsible for my weapon.

  6. I have mine on my desk next to me-but so far, the wife and I haven’t had kids yet. once we do-our guns will be locked up, or holstered on our belts.

  7. RF. Real common sense rocks! Intruders don’t like barking dogs especially those that might be backed up by an armed homeowner.

    • We have three Golden Retrievers. Sweet dogs, who make for a very good early warning system. Young male Golden, particularly would convince anyone coming to the door that he would rip a throat out. I don’t depend on them to protect me. They do depend on me to protect them, if need arose.

  8. I said it before and I’ll say it again for anyone who missed it. You can have the best of both worlds: extremely quick, guaranteed access and security from children. How? Install a shelf above your bed near the ceiling and place your home defense firearm up there when you are sleeping. No one is going to access that firearm without standing on your bed which will awaken you. And no child will be able to reach it even if they stand on the bed. Further, if the shelf is large enough, the firearm will not even be visible to children’s eyes. They will not curiously try to grab something that they cannot see which, along with the fact that they cannot reach it, makes it a pretty secure location for showers as well. And yet your home defense firearm is available for immediate access if needed — and you won’t have to waste any time trying to open a safe in the middle of the night.

    If your home defense firearm is always on your person (except showers and sleeping of course), then that shelf near the ceiling is all you need. If you leave your home defense firearm at home and go away for the day, it would be really good idea to take it off the shelf and put it in a safe.

  9. Yes, control your weapons. Also, teach your kids about guns. Start early.

    Lots of kids think we’re all just really cartoons and video game characters that respawn instantly.

    At 3, my daughter knew enough to know not to touch guns and to tell an adult if she encounters one.

    Make guns a normal thing. Let them see when you clean them. Explain how they work. Practice saying “BOOM” really loudly to get their attention.

    Sadly, this tragedy was avoidable in many ways.

  10. It could have been you . . .

    No it couldn’t. I have young kids, and other young kids visit the house, so my weapons are secured at all times. No exceptions, no “I’ll just put it down for a minute, they’re all upstairs anyway”, etc. I don’t leave power tools or sharp knives laying around either.

    • I concur. I have 1 firearm outside of lockbox on the headboard. The kids don’t know the combo.I keep a Para double stack on me or nearby, 17 round mag, chamber empty. I can rack that slide, the wife can, kids cannot. I have a 1.5 year old and a 4 year old. They both know not to touch daddy’s monster-getter and the 4 year old even goes finger safe on his nerf guns! It’s not that hard! I took my 4 year old out to my private range and taught him all the NRA/range /firearm rules. He has to recite them before he can come out with daddy. He has shot my Kimber .45, under STRICT (read, it never left MY control) supervision. He understands firearms, and there’s no mystery. He also doesn’t run into the street, either. he has been given rules and why they are there. Don’t run into the street because you might get hit by a car, and mommy and daddy love you and want you to be safe. I keep my shop closed so the kids don’t go out there and get hurt too. We had a cop near here who left his two kids in a mini-van with his revolver in the cupholder. He came back after the shot to a deceased daughter. He gets to live with that. His son gets to live with that. I can access my firearm, take it out of the retention holster and rack the slide quickly enough. I have a perimiter fence, 2 Rotties and sensors, as well as motion alarm cameras out in the country. Why? My family is worth it. So is keeping my boys from ever having to deal with the lifelong trauma of having shot a family member by accident. It’s not just firearms, it’s cars, lawnmowers, sharp stuff in the shop, poisons, etc. I am ever vigilant to keep 2 innocent little boys from ever accidentally hurting themselves or others. They are my everything.

  11. I’m just shocked that the CNN article I read on this incident said “The kid shot his dad” instead of the standard “The gun went off” or “The gun fired accidentally” or “Somehow the gun discharged”.

  12. One of the most safest methods is to teach and to educate the children, what it is and let them get involved, let them shoot the weapons, show them this is not a toy and to respect the weapon. No different than teaching them to drive. They are all grown up now. All my weapons that are not in safe are loaded. Empty guns kill people, I do not have strangers in my home and my friends know me and respect my rules.

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