How to Balance Gun Safety and Access at Home
On February 14, 2018, a school shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, FL. This event took the lives of 17 people making it one of the worst school shootings in American history. As a result of this horrific event, guns are a hot topic, with heated arguments on both sides of the issue. One thing is clear, though — we have an ongoing problem with gun violence in the United States. This article will not address the second amendment, or whether or not gun control laws are effective. The second amendment is the law of the land, and many Americans have firearms in their homes. As long as this is the case, gun safety at home is an important goal. However, how do we balance safe storage with the need for quick access if you suddenly need it?
Proper Security Prevents Quick Access
The big debate about gun safety centers on access. General gun storage guidelines say you should unload your guns and lock them up. Plus, keep the ammunition in a separate place, away from the guns. However, people argue that following these guidelines makes it impossible to quickly access your guns in an emergency. The truth is, if an intruder enters your home, you will need to act extremely quickly under stressful conditions. It is just not reasonable to think there will be enough time to get to a gun safe in one room, open it, grab a gun, run to another room, open another safe, grab ammunition, and load the gun and still gain the upper hand against an intruder.
What is Proper Gun Storage?
Gun storage is the process of securing your firearms as safely as possible against theft or unwanted access by people who could injure themselves or others. You should keep guns that you use only for sport or hunting in high-quality gun safes. A good safe should be heavy enough that no one can carry it away. Guns that you store in the safe should not be loaded and you should not keep ammunition for these guns in the same safe. If you are not counting on these guns to help you in a defensive situation against a would-be intruder, then it is sensible to take the highest level of precaution.
What is Gun Staging?
When you store guns according to the guidelines above, it may take too long to access them in an emergency. Therefore, you should stage guns that you intend to use in self-defense situations. When you stage guns, you still lock them up, so children and others cannot access them. However, you lock them in strategic places, in safes specially-designed for quicker access. They have magazines inserted, though there may be no bullets chambered. Good choices of safes for this purpose include small safes with fingerprint access, or RFID locks that will open with a key card.
Remember, if you cannot get to a staged gun in an emergency, then it cannot serve its purpose. Therefore, depending on the size and layout of your home, you may need more than one safe (and staged gun) placed around your house. For example, is your child’s room the first place you would run? Then consider staging a in that room. Of course, there must be no way your child can ever access this gun unless he or she is old enough and has been properly trained to use it.
How To Respond to an Intrusion
Although gun staging is a great way to prepare to defend your home in an emergency, self-defense trainers teach that you should avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Don’t let your emotions guide your reaction. In other words, don’t let your anger at an intruder cause you to go toward confronting him. Here are the five steps you should take:
Evade. If there is a way for you and your family to get out of your home, or secure yourselves in a safe place, then do it. Unnecessarily confronting a stranger is always a bad idea, even if you are justified in doing so.
Arm. Here is why it is important to have staged weapons strategically placed in your home. Wherever the intrusion is coming from, you need to be able to safely and quickly get to one of your staged guns, while getting your family to safety. Once you reach the quick-access safe, experts suggest it should take between 3 to 5 seconds to access your gun.
Barricade. Get to a place that will be harder for an intruder to get to you and your family. This includes hiding, making sure to close doors behind you, and pushing furniture in front of the closed doors. If there is a central location in your home where you can go and stay until police come, consider reinforcing the door, its frame, and lock to make it as hard as possible for the intruder to enter. Store first aid supplies and a flashlight in that room, as well.
To be sure it is done correctly, hire a good carpenter to do the door and frame, and hire a licensed professional locksmith to help you select and install the lock (If you are in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area, Lock N More Fort Lauderdale locksmith is an excellent choice). Again, if your child’s room is the place you will most likely go first, this might be the right place to do that.
Communicate. Call police. If you do not normally carry your phone with you at all times, keep a pre-paid disposable cell phone with your staged gun. Or, if you have an old cell phone you no longer use, keep it charged in the rom you would go to. You can make 911 calls on these phones even though they are no longer active for regular service.
Experts suggest you give police the following important information:
- Your address
- What is occurring
- You are armed
- Your description
- Any description you may have of the intruder
Response. Only consider using your gun if these tactics do not work before police arrive, and the intruder confronts you.
Your Actions Have Consequences
Remember, in self-defense situations, using your firearm should be the last resort, especially if your children are present. If you shoot someone, there will be consequences. Depending on the circumstances, there will be a police investigation. Sometimes, police file criminal charges against people who use their firearms, even if those people felt it was necessary to shoot. The laws are complex and vary by state.
In addition, even if criminal charges are not filed, the intruder’s family could file a civil suit against you. So, consider carefully, and only use your gun if it is absolutely necessary. Shooting someone is serious business, even someone who is unlawfully in your home. Bad judgement sometimes takes over during time of stress, so it is best to use all measures first to avoid confrontation until police arrive.