In light of the recent events at Virginia Tech and the Ohio school shooting (and not so recent events like columbine) we have all been thinking about gun safety and responsibility, especially when it involves children. But what can we, as gun owners, do? A lot believe it or not, and without giving up any of our rights, freedoms or personal safety.
The standing advice from many sources is to keep all firearms locked away, unloaded and with the ammunition stored in another room. Most of us (especially with a self-defense bent feel this is a little extreme). So let’s look at this, piece by piece:
- Keep all firearms locked away: I actually think this is a good idea, while many would point out that this makes it difficult to get to a firearm quickly in a situation where you need to defend yourself or home, that can be mitigated. Also take into consideration how many incidents, injuries and deaths could have been prevented if a loaded firearm wasn’t left out. There is no reason for leaving a firearm out when you can make it safe while still keeping you safe.
Given today’s technology like the GunVault MiniVault you can store your firearm securely and have access to it almost instantly. The design of this safe has no number keys to mash in a hurry and no keys to loose or fumble with. The important part here is that you should practice with it (see below). So, yes keep all the firearms you are not carrying on you locked up!
- Keep all firearms unloaded: This is where it gets dicey. For the firearm you intend to use for home defense, I would say either keep it loaded or keep the clip loaded in the safe next to it. The important part of a home defense firearm is that it is ready for instant use and it isn’t ready for instant use then it isn’t much use for your defense.
For hunting rifles, plinkers and other firearms you don’t intend to use for home defense keeping them unloaded is not a bad idea as the need for quick access to these guns is not a necessity. I have friends who claim they need every firearm unlocked and loaded in case they might need it, but think about it, if you haven’t stopped the bad guy by the time you are out of ammunition for your primary home defense firearm, the bad guy has probably already stopped you.
- Keep ammunition stored in a separate room: For just bout everything I think this is absurd! Where you store your ammunition in any case if largely irrelevant. The children (the main people we are trying to protect here) already know where you keep all your firearms and the ammo. Spreading it across the house not only doesn’t make it any safer but makes it harder for you to keep tabs on your firearms and ammo.
Then there is the self defense side of it, in this scenario your firearm is in the bedroom at one end of the house and the ammunition for said firearm is at the other end. You have to run across your house not once but twice and PRAY that the bad guy doesn’t catch wise to your antics and beat you to death with your BRICK of a firearm because it’s not loaded. I know some people will have me for this but: store your ammunition near your firearm. For self defense firearms keep it in the case with the firearm at the minimum preferably in the clip and keep your spare clips loaded too. Other ammunition is fine to store anywhere that is locked up in some way.
So here it is:
- Keep your home defense firearm locked in a quick access safe with a loaded clip with it.
- Keep non-home-defense firearms locked up and unloaded.
- Keep your ammunition locked up.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
All of the above predicates on using a quick access safe to allow you to keep your home defense firearm secure and still available to you for instant use. Like any part of self defense you should practice.
- Every few days or so you should make it a point to rush at top speed across the house, open the safe, grab and check your firearm for use. Time yourself, push yourself, HARD. This will help you be better prepared for the time you may need your firearm by hyping you up and fraying your nerves a bit. If you don’t feel this way when practicing you are not trying hard enough.
A firearm that takes you a minute or more get to, un-secure, load and present (read aim at the bad guy) is not a very good defensive firearm. Once you are in the room with your firearm it should take less than 10 seconds to be ready to defend yourself, 5-seconds once you are within arms reach of your safe. With only a little practice this should be a simple matter and if you aren’t serious enough about self defense to practice with your safe a bit then you really aren’t serious about self defense.