Handguns in the Home
We all know the Four General Safety Rules of handling and firing weapons. We have had these rules repeated to us every time we have gone to the gun range, as well as tested over them every time we talk or train with firearms. Let’s make sure though, that we are ever conscious about one of the other firearms safety issues, and that’s Home Safety!
These are some major responsibilities when we keep a gun in the home, especially if we have anyone else living with us, and certainly, if we have small children in the home. The worst thing you could have happen is a horrible tragedy in your home to one of your family members due to your negligence. Officer John Bunnell recently posted an article in the “Law Officer Training” site that I will paraphrase in this column because handguns in the home require critical thinking and absolute responsibility on our part. This is one of those training issues that should always be on our minds, especially those of us with children.
MINORS IN THE HOME:
Minors in the home where a gun is kept present a very unique set of challenges. Age is a big factor, if the child is an infant, it might be okay to keep a gun on a table or counter. If the child is in the curious stage, approximately 3-7 years old, keeping a gun on a table or counter will not work. If the child is in the mischievous stage, approximately 10-15 years old, hiding the weapon will not be enough. In this day and age of violent video games and an increase in violence on television, depending on age most kids do not have the capacity to comprehend the real life consequences of certain actions (like pointing a gun they find on a coffee table at their younger sibling).
Then there is the issue of your child’s friend coming to visit. How curious or mischievous are they? Can you be sure your child did not tell the friend that you have a gun in the home? Can and/or will a friend pressure you child into looking for it? Do you tell the friend’s parents that you keep a gun in the home? If not, put the shoe on the other foot….If your child went to their friend’s home, would you want to know if their parents keep a gun? Even if you are responsible about having a gun in your home, can you be sure the friend’s parents are? Their idea of responsible may be your idea of completely careless.
We all certainly want to be able to have our gun available in the home for protection. We have to strike a balance between “readily available” and “safe” from our children’s reach. You may decide to keep your gun locked in a safe. I am a firm believer in safes; specifically, the large floor models bolted to the foundation. The single handgun safes work just fine, and are certainly less expensive. While that may be a great way to secure your gun from a child’s grasp, when you face the intruder and your gun is locked in a safe, our deployment will be greatly slowed down, something else we need to think about.
Whether you have and use a safe or not, you can also lock you gun. There are two main types of gun locks. One is basically a cable and pad lock. The cable is run through the magazine well and out the ejection port, preventing the slide from cycling. It also prevents a magazine from being inserted and the firing pin from striking the primer on the bullet.
The other type of gun lock is called a trigger lock. This mechanism goes through the trigger guard and prevents the trigger from being pulled to the rear. However, when I searched the web, the majority of the results returned were “how to easily pick a trigger lock” and “how guns will fire with a trigger lock in place”. My recommendation is do NOT use a trigger lock. For storage purposes, the best choice is a locked gun inside a locked safe.
Some people advocate keeping the gun in the safe and/or the gun lock on at all times. Some say keep the gun and ammunition in separate places. Others go even further and say that the ammunition should be separated from the magazine or speed loader.
CHAMBERED OR UNCHAMBERED:
When a magazine is inserted into the gun, it is not ready to shoot. Before you can shoot a round, a round must be loaded into the chamber (chambered) by aggressively pulling the slide to the rear and releasing it (semi-automatics). Depending on the make and model handgun you own, it may or may not have a safety. That could be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a round chambered in the gun while you are home. Obviously, a gun in this condition is ready to shoot. While this might be your choice to have it ready to use under attack, you must consider that it is also easy for someone other than you to pick it up and fire it as well. This is that balance you must strike based on what you are trying to accomplish.
Whatever method you use to secure your weapon at home, make sure this decision is based on the underlying theme of SAFETY. In the state of Oklahoma, you are responsible for insuring that your gun is safe and accessible only to you. You can be held criminally liable if someone is hurt or killed by your unsecured weapon. I don’t have to remind you that criminal charges would be your least worry if some tragedy happened to your child, with your gun, due to your negligence. Let’s make sure none of us ever have to face a horrible incident like that. Let’s be over the top regarding safety when we are dealing with a gun, in or out of your home.