Securing Your Guns from Unauthorized Access

  1. All guns are always loaded.

  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

    —Jeff Cooper[2]

Reciting the four universal firearms safety rules should be part of your subconscious routine every time you see or handle a gun. No exceptions. I personally like to throw in two extra rules when I’m teaching people.

  1. Never try to catch a falling gun. (heard from James Yeager at Tactical Response)
  2. Prevent access to your guns by unauthorized persons. (heard from Claude Werner at The Tactical Professor)

Let’s concentrate on the last rule there. Who are we trying to prevent from accessing our guns and how do we prevent unauthorized people from accessing them? Obviously, we want to keep criminals away from our guns. But there are a few other groups of people that we want to deny access to guns that you should consider. How about our children, nosy neighbors, or our nosy neighbors’ children?

CNN Study – Kids access to guns is a preventable problem and 2 year old shoots himself

The easiest and most robust solution there is getting a large gun safe and anchoring it into the cement in the basement. This works wonderfully for storing guns for which you have no immediate need (i.e. not our go-to home defense weapons). But how do we keep home defense guns quickly accessible to us and not to them? I’ll list several options, some better and some way worse than others.

  • Elevated position. This is the worst of the bunch, by a long shot. If children are your only concern, it’s still the worst. The problem is that, yeah, they might not be able to climb up there and reach your gun yet, but when they can, it could be too late. Don’t do it once the kid can walk. I had a scary three seconds about ten months ago when my little guy was pulling himself up to standing that made me realize that if he can see the gun, he’ll find a way to try to touch it. Never again. Here’s some footage to demonstrate the point (thanks Chuck H. of the Topeka Police for posting this)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fnsf6i9FzA?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

This is probably high enough to keep him away for another year. But I don’t count on it.
  • Stack-On PS-520 Super-Sized Personal Safe with Electronic Lock
    This has been a very workable option for me for the last 2 years. I have an easy to remember code (different from the PINs that my son might watch us type at the grocery store) and I currently store this safe near the bed. I have also stored it in the coat closet near the entry of our previous home. I don’t have this lagged down, as I’m not as concerned with a thief breaking in and running away with this safe. It only contains my home defense setup (upcoming post on this). I can quickly roll out of bed and get my gear and enact my home defense plans. I preventatively change the batteries once a year and remind myself with a google calendar reminder.
IMG_4490
The only addition I need to make is a battery powered dome light on the outside of this safe so that I can fully see the keypad in the dark. I’m pleased with this safe.(key code version).

Gunvault SpeedVault SV500 gun safe
(key code version). This is my next purchase. I’d like to secure it on the first floor in a place that myself or my wife can access as we answer the door. I don’t own this yet, but I’ve been told that you can easily defeat the biometric version with some simple tools, so avoid that one.

I think this is a brilliant safe. Securing against a wall in a closet, or on the back of a cabinet, it should be a real winner.
  • GunVault NV300 NanoVault with Combination Lock
    This is the best $30 you can spend. You can use this as a travel safe when you visit hotels, in your car, or even in a drawer if you only need to secure a pistol. I programmed a palindromic number (same forward as backwards) so that under stress I could open the safe regardless of orientation. It has been a great all around value.

IMG_4487

  • On your person!!! This is what I do until I go to sleep at night. My ‘house gun’ is a Ruger LCP with a crimson trace laser, clip-draw , and a Hogue Handall. I don’t like the idea of having to request that a home invader standby while I open my safe, so I just carry a gun at home. Makes sense to me. If you read lots of defensive gun use stories online, you’ll see many examples of when a man has to engage a home invader empty handed and his wife runs to get the gun and has to make a near contact shot on the bad guy. There’s lots of considerations in this scenario that we can talk about soon.

That’s it for now. If you have any suggestions on securing long guns from kids, and keeping them quick to access, please let me know. I’ve been toying with some design ideas that I am considering building since no good solution seems to exist.

Edit To Add: Found this on Amazon. ShotLock Shotgun Solo-Vault This looks like it might be the ticket for a quick access shotgun if that’s the direction you want to go.

A Missing Slice of the Tactical Pie

I have been involved with the firearms training community for about 7 years at this point (a flash in the pan compared to my friends). I followed the usual progression that people go through when they get into firearms. First, I was obsessed with the guns themselves. I would buy the gun rags and drool over the newest promises of ‘knockdown power’ and bought into the caliber wars. Then, I realized that you can’t buy skill and “the Way is in training”. I found some very influential forums and people and started my apprenticeship under several trainers in the southeast. I delved into the shooting sports and improved my execution of the mechanical aspects of shooting. I began my journey into developing a robust mindset and becoming comfortable with doing the violence that I was preparing for with the shooting skills I was honing. Soon thereafter, I came to realize that shooting isn’t the only problem. There’s tactics, the legal system, hand to hand fighting in a weapons based environment, less lethal options, positioning problems, working with a partner, avoidance, deterrence and deescalation of criminal actors, and on and on. These topics have consumed my training time in the last five years. Well, about two years ago, there was an added complication. A baby boy. I played it cool, but really I was just lost in a sea of questions beyond the usual ones that most dads have.

Dem stretch marks, tho.
Not a picture of me or my wife. I just think this pictures is hilarious.

How do I protect him and my wife?

How do I need to change my tactics and procedures to account for this little helpless guy?

What do I need to change in order to keep guns available to me, and unavailable to him?

What will I do if I see a crime unfolding in front of me and he is with me?

What will I do if I have to deal with a crime directed at me and he is with me?

How can I prepare for those possibilities?

Will my home defense plans change? How?

What drills do I need to practice that account for having a child with me?

How will I introduce him to guns one day?

There are a million questions. I couldn’t find a one stop shop for such things so I say, “if not me, then who”. This blog is an attempt to answer these questions for myself and others by looking at actual defensive gun uses, borrowing (and citing) other writings on the subject, asking other dads in my situation, and thinking rationally on the subject.

Let’s see where this goes.