Store Your Gun Safely Unless You’re Using It

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I keep at least one gun within reach at night.

If you’ve taken a gun class, then you’ve been through the lectures on gun safety. Each organization seems to have its own slight twist on the gun safety rules. This is to be expected, as each one tries to set itself apart from the crowd. But the one area where most agree is your guns must be stored safely unless they are being used. This naturally leads to discussions of gun locks, safes and other ways to secure your weapon against loss and unauthorized access. The focus here is on the first part of the sentence — properly storing your gun and ammunition. Take these suggestions to heart; they are important. There are many great storage options available. Some are semi-permanent security. Others are geared toward instant access to the weapon at a moment’s notice. But what about the second half of that sentence? What does “unless you’re using it” mean? It’s what I want to cover here.

The Gunlocker gun safe allows you rapid access to your firearm in an emergency.

Different Levels Of Risk

There are different levels of risk gun owners may face. Suppose you’re an upper-class citizen living in a high-end, gated community. You face a drastically different risk level than the middle-class person living in a typical American neighborhood. Then there are those who live-in crime-ridden areas where the police won’t even enter alone. I can recall working narcotics and driving through a rough neighborhood with four fellow officers in the vehicle. The car was unmarked, but anyone paying attention could figure out it was a police vehicle. We drove down the street toward a group of people gathered around a 55-gallon steel drum with flames blazing from the top. Two young men were walking down the road toward the group but were probably 50 yards from their destination. As our unmarked car reached them, one of the two pulled out a gun and pointed at the group. Our vehicle came to a screeching halt, and five officers piled on the two men. We were cuffing them when an elderly lady turned on her porch light and stepped outside. Imagine what it would be like to live in a community rife with drugs, guns and drive-by shootings. I’m sure you’d agree these residents face high risk and need instant access to their weapons.

"Using" Your Gun

Using your gun means different things to different people. It may be a trip to shoot some sporting clays, it could be pulling your weapon from a bedside safe in response to the sound of glass breaking downstairs or it could be having a gun on the nightstand beside you because of the constant risk you face. It’s all a matter of context. I keep at least one gun within reach at night because I have sent several people to prison over the years who swore they would come after me when they get out. Although I’m not shooting these guns, I am using them. There’s probably little chance of that threat being realized, but the risk is higher than if I’d never worn a badge.

The point is you’ve got to do a realistic assessment of your risk and then decide what using your gun means within that risk. Of course, you must always consider the corresponding chance a child, guest or another person may find your gun and unwittingly put you, themselves or others in danger. We’ve all seen the recent news about a useless death caused by the ignorance of a man playing with a gun. Can you say crazy? I’m fortunate both of my daughters are fully grown and out of the house. I don’t have to worry about children running loose around the homestead. If I did, I would be more circumspect and would place the guns in my safe and consider one of the rapid-deploying safes that provide security without hindering access. The point is, my guns are being used even if I’m not firing them at the moment. As such, I don’t need to lock them in a safe with my ammunition stored separately. It makes no sense.

Examine Your Own Risk Level

All of this seems elementary to those of us who have carried for a while, but new shooters listening to the lectures on gun storage may be confused by how the information is portrayed. Guns should be secured when not in use. The catch is that you must clearly understand what the term “use” means to you, and this is determined by examining your own risk level.

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