In the July issue of Townhall Magazine, BearingArms.com's editor Bob Owens explains why hiding your firearms isn't enough--they must be put under lock and key.
In May I wrote a post at BearingArms.com that I thought was rather straightforward, discussing some of the responsibilities of gun owners.
When you decide to own a firearm, you are not just exercising a right, but taking upon yourself a responsibility to use that firearm rationally, intelligently, and safely at all times, without exception.
That responsibility includes knowing and practicing the safety rules religiously at home, the range, in the field, while carrying, and during transport.
That includes storing your firearms in such a manner where they cannot easily be accessed by the unauthorized (children, the mentally ill, infirm, etc.) or petty criminals.
The National Rifle Association issues a similar gun safety rule: “Store guns so they are not accessible
to unauthorized persons.” Additionally,
the National Shooting Sports Foundation
states, “It is your responsibility to prevent children and unauthorized adults from gaining access to firearms or ammunition.” In short, the safe storage of firearms is hardly a radical concept.
I was therefore quite surprised when a number of individuals attacked that position, claiming that educating children not to touch guns was enough. Several even took the position that by advocating for the same position as large gun rights groups and manufacturers I was championing gun control.
I understand the position of those that claim that children should simply be brought up not to touch firearms. I know many brought up with the belief that if children were merely educated about firearms at an early age, that all the mystery was gone, and that the children would not touch them until their parents authorized them to do so. Other parents felt that putting a gun in a sock drawer, under the bed, in the back of the closet, or on a shelf was enough protection.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of funerals every year that are a direct result of the failure of this mindset. It seems that we read about one of these unfortunate and preventable shootings almost every single day.
As I write this, a 4-year-old boy in Merrillville, Indiana is having his body prepared for his funeral. He found a handgun in his parents’ bedroom on a high closet shelf. Hiding it wasn’t enough.
In North Carolina, the 5-year-old son of an Anson County sheriff ’s deputy narrowly missed suffering the same fate, when he somehow acquired the deputy’s service weapon. It was something of a miracle that the bullet took off only part of the boy’s ear, and not his head. I’m sure that he was told by the deputy to never touch his handgun.
The simple unassailable truth is that all children—even very good children—sometimes fail to listen to or intentionally disobey their parents. It simply isn’t worth the risk of leaving out a firearm only to find out too late that your child disobeyed you with catastrophic results.
The other reason you should lock up your firearms even if you don’t have children is the possibility of theft. Firearms are a favored target of burglars, and professional thieves know all the hiding places that you and I think are so clever.
Earlier this year, a South Carolina gun and gear reviewer came home to find out that in the short time he had been gone, someone had broken into his home. One of the items stolen was a Browning Hi Power pistol that he thought he’d cleverly hidden in a stack of clothes in his closet. That pistol is now part of the criminal black market, and might one day be used in committing a violent crime.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that the victim thinks that he interrupted the burglary in progress. Perhaps fortunately for both men, the thief apparently heard him come home and chose to escape instead of fight. The thief could have just as easily used the stolen pistol or a nearby loaded shotgun to ambush the homeowner or other family members as they returned home.
The break-in was a sobering moment for this individual, who now keeps all of his firearms in a heavy-duty fireproof safe when he is not at home. While there is no such thing as a criminal- proof safe, a good safe will be difficult to crack in a reasonable amount of time without extremely specialized equipment, and so “smash and grab” burglars are likely to simply bypass the items in the safe for items in the home that are easier to obtain.
Though it seems some people don’t want to hear it, storing your guns in a responsible manner is a very important part of gun safety, and arguably the most important part.” •
Bob Owens is editor of BearingArms.com.