Owning a gun is that strange balance between safety and accessibility. You want to keep the gun away from the hands of your kids and dissuade improper use, but you also want the ability to easily access your gun if you need it. Let’s take a look at some ways you can keep your gun safe and accessible at home.
Safe is in the name, and gun safes can do just that, keeping children away from your firearms behind thick steel and a combination lock or keypad.
Safes are a bit more complicated when it comes to criminals. Thinner-gauge safes (generally under 12-gauge steel) can potentially be opened with some well-placed swings from an axe or sledgehammer. That’s why it’s important to know that you get what you pay for.
That said, make sure you buy a safe that is the best quality for what you can afford to spend. If you can’t afford the thickest-gauge steel safe, that’s okay. A thinner-gauge safe will protect your guns much better than no safe at all. Get what you can for your budget while keeping steel thickness and fire protection in mind.
Gun safes vary in terms of accessibility. Smaller safes and lock boxes for handguns are built for portability and quick, convenient access. However, larger safes for shotguns and rifles don’t always offer speedy access.
A gun lock offers some of the same security as a gun safe, but in a compact form that mounts directly to the gun and hampers its internal mechanisms to prevent unauthorized use. Gun locks predominantly use key-lock systems, though there are some that use combinations.
Trigger locks, often designed for smaller firearms, prevent a person from pulling back the trigger, eliminating the possibility of misfire. Cable locks block the barrel and prevent the use of ammunition. However, gun locks for handguns and small firearms are easy to tamper with and unlock with no expertise. If you use a gun lock for a handgun, it would be better to invest in a gun safe or to only use it when you are in complete control of your weapon.
Gun locks for large firearms are generally safer, particularly breech locks for shotguns and magazine locks for automatic rifles. Both of these prevent you from loading a magazine or getting a round in the chamber.
The idea is that your gun can’t be misused if it is always on your person, constantly in your personal control. Carrying your gun on your hip is also the best way to get to your gun in a hurry. You need a concealed carry permit and a secure holster. Each state has a different term for permits and licenses, while some use a single permit for both open and concealed carry of a handgun. A concealed carry also requires your commitment to keep your gun on you at all times.
Knowledge and Vigilance
The best tool that will keep you and your family safe is knowledge. Take a firearms safety class and encourage family members to do the same. Teach your kids the basics of gun safety and personal responsibility in regard to firearms. The NRA phrase for kids is “Stop! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.” Teaching your kids the basics of gun safety not only keeps them safe at home but ensures that they have the knowledge to stay safe outside of home.
Furthermore, it’s your job as a gun owner to be vigilant about your own gun use. Don’t forget to lock your gun up every night. It’s easy to forget to swing the safe door shut or to lock your gun properly, as much as you intended to do so, but good intentions don’t mean much with gun safety. Being absentminded or even slightly careless can lead to accidents, so be smart and responsible.