I think it’s fair to assume that most gun owners, if not all of them, care about being safe with their firearms. Aside from what we already practice, we have constant reminders to keep our finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, to keep the barrel pointed downrange, and the obvious one, never point the gun at something you don’t intend to shoot. Even when taking an initial concealed carry course we’re taught about the basics of gun safety. What you don’t find being discussed, however, is arguably on the same level of importance; gun storage and/or gun locks.
Prior to writing this article I first sought out opinions of gun owners on their methods or preferences for safe storage. The data I received honestly didn’t come as a surprise. In homes that had children, firearms were either kept in a gun safe, or had some form of a trigger lock and stored in a well-concealed location. In single-resident homes, some of my respondents kept their guns stored in a safe, and others just chose the typical “hiding” spots (closets, under the bed, etc.) without any sort of lock on their gun. The last group I polled were adults living with roommates, no children present, and they all said that their guns are not locked or stored, only hidden.
In no way is this a representative sample of the entire population of gun owners. However, it did provide me some insight and guidance for the direction of this article. I want to make one thing very clear, though; I am a firm believer that there is never one right way to do something. What works for some, doesn’t work for others and I will never condemn someone for doing something differently than me. Safety is safety, and however you feel you can attain and manage that is good enough for me.
If you’re in the group that keeps all of their firearms in a safe, there is a chance this article won’t apply to you. If you’re like me, in the group that doesn’t do such a thing, please keep an open mind while reading further. For reference, all of my shotguns and hunting rifles are kept in a safe. My handguns and AR are kept out, unless I leave the house. Call me paranoid, but I find comfort in knowing that a gun is always within arms-reach should I need it in an urgent situation. This is exactly where the delicate balance of being prepared and being safe toes the line.
Because of my [we’ll call it] paranoia, the only time I lock my guns while at home, save for the gun that is on me, is when my small nieces come to visit. The guns are locked and hidden in places only I can access. As unfortunate and tragic as it is, we have all heard of the stories of loaded guns getting into the hands of uneducated children, and the media does a superb job of then demonizing gun owners as a whole. Was it an accident? Of course. But could it have been prevented? Absolutely.
I treat having guests over identical to having my small nieces over. Keep your typical carry gun on you (if you carry), but lock and hide the rest. We live in a world where the unexpected should now be expected. Chris Kyle did not expect his friend to shoot him, so don’t expect a house guest not to seize an opportunity if one is right there in front of them. The fact of the matter is; many people can hide their mental illness. Whether they want to harm themselves or you, don’t put an open opportunity in their path. That is your firearm, and you are responsible for what happens with it.
One situation that everyone can appreciate is locking guns that are in transit, or left open at the range. Many states require a firearm to be locked if transporting it, and it is generally a safe practice to lock firearms when heading down range to check targets. I recently acquired the BRO lock which fits snugly into the chamber of any AR15. I’ve gotten into the practice of using this chamber lock every time I set the gun down when other people are present. It’s quick and easy to use, and ensures that no one can fire the weapon without you removing it. This lock is also a great alternative if you don’t have a gun safe in your home.
We could debate the “what if’s” of locking/storing guns all day long, but I urge you to give this a second thought before blowing it off. Kids and guests should not be trusted or tempted by unlocked firearms. Be smart, be safe, and be practical.
Theresa Vail in a member of the Kansas Army National Guard, Miss Kansas 2013, and current Host of NRA All Access.
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