Wishing you a safe new year. As a gun owner, part of having a safe year is the action you take to be responsible for preventing unauthorized users from getting to your guns. How do you do that? A safe is the recognized method used by a reasonable person. Put yourself in the witness stand being cross examined by an aggressive prosecutor who is trying to convince a jury that you are not a reasonable person.
A reasonable person makes the necessary action to prevent access to his/her firearms. Within a home who is excluded from gaining access? Persons who have not had any firearms training, persons who have been judged mentally deficient, persons who have been committed of a felony, persons who have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, persons who do not live in the home, and anyone else the owner doesn’t want to touch their guns.
Unauthorized users can be people who live in the domicile with the gun owner, anyone who is granted access to the domicile (maintenance workers, repair persons, visitors), and anyone who gains access without permission (thieves and criminals with various intent).
Where are you on the curve from irresponsibility to responsibility when it comes to the safeguarding of your firearms? Let’s look at some examples:
Loaded guns that are in the open, meaning a person who is in the house (invited or uninvited) can walk up to them and pick them up.
Loaded guns that are concealed. Meaning a person only has to uncover the loaded gun to gain access to them. This can be loaded guns in gun cases that are not locked. “Anything that is purposefully hidden will be accidentally found” – Greg Poole
Loaded guns that are in a safe. If the loaded gun is intended for self-defense then this might be seen as responsible depending upon who also has access to the safe.
There is only one reason to keep a loaded gun and that is because you are ready to use it for self-defense. “Ready to use” will then become the focus of the cross-examination. I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but you may need to justify your practice of keeping loaded guns and where you keep them.
If you conceal carry then you need to have a locked place to keep your concealed carry gun when it is not on your person. I find a lock box inside the safe is the solution to having to unload and reload the concealed carry gun every day I go out.
The same applies to a loaded gun kept in the home for self-defense. It should be in a convenient location, but it also needs to be protected from unauthorized use. One way to do this is to keep the gun in a locked box with a Simplex locking mechanism. The box should also be attached to something so it cannot just be picked up and carried away.
If you keep your guns unloaded and your ammunition in a separate place then you are a little more responsible than the person keeping loaded guns in the same locations. Trigger locks on guns may prevent them from being used in your home but does nothing to prevent theft. But this is a step up from just having concealed guns without trigger locks.
Getting guns into cabinets is a step up. Cabinets are not much of a theft deterrent and do not offer much resistance to a determined older child who can pick up a pry bar.
Safes are the next step up and can be grouped into four categories based on price. Cheap (inexpensive), Low, Moderate, and High price points. An inexpensive safe is going to run in the $300 to $1,000 range. A Low priced safe is going to be $1,000 to $1,500. A Moderate priced safe is going to be $1,500 to $2,500. A High priced safe is going to be anything above $2,500. These price ranges are subjective on my part and you may define ranges differently.
What happens to a safe when an unauthorized person wants to get to the contents?
1) They steal the safe to take it to a location where they can take their time getting into it.
2) They pry the safe door open to gain access.
3) They use cutting tools to cut through the body or door of the safe.
4) They use torches to cut through the body or door of the safe.
Inexpensive safes are designed to provide a deterrent to unauthorized users. The reason they are inexpensive has to do with the amount of steel used and the methods of construction. Spot welding is not as strong as full seam welding. Composite doors, while appearing thick do not contain the full thickness of steel.
It is steel that provides the determent. The more steel, the harder it is to deform or cut. Larger safes are more expensive because of they use more material. Most inexpensive safes are imported and what you generally see advertised from mass merchants.
You will probably find some safes in the Low price range at mass merchants also, but if you need to get into the moderate and high price ranges you will want to seek out specialist. When your collection has the value to justify safes in this range you will be making serious investigation into how to keep the collections protected from theft, vandalism, and natural disasters.
Low priced safes are in a range that provide more security than inexpensive safes because of higher steel content and better construction methods. Medium priced safes are a continuation of increased steel content and may contain features to help deter torch attacks. High priced safes can be custom designs.
Besides doing a cost benefit analysis you can also look at your buying pattern when selecting a firearm. If you identify a purpose, and then identify three guns that will meet that purpose and they are in a Low, Medium, and High price ranges for that type of gun, which one to you choose? If you usually choose the low priced model then a low priced safe may suit you. If you usually choose the medium priced gun, a medium priced safe may be your best investment. If you always choose the high end guns then you may be the customer for high end safes.
You need a safe to store all your firearms or multiple safes to store all your firearms. So while a safe is not something you get to take out to the range and have recreation with, it is a needed security item that every gun collection needs, no matter the size or value.
Even if you only have one gun, you should be concerned about being responsible for it. You should be concerned about your liability if your gun is stolen and used in a violent crime. You should be concerned about preventing tragedy in your home. Get a safe and secure it to something that doesn’t move.