A recent, high-profile prison escape turned out to be quite interesting and, frankly, entertaining to watch play out. For those who have not kept up with current events, a convicted murderer escaped from a Pennsylvania State prison by doing a crab walk up a wall. It was captured on video, which is quite hilarious in and of itself. Sometime after the escape, the prisoner stole a rifle from the garage of a homeowner, who found the prisoner in the act of the theft and actually fired numerous shots at the escapee but missed. The convict, then armed with a rifle, fled and, after a lengthy manhunt with helicopters and dogs, was apprehended.
Anyway, very entertaining, indeed. While the primary topic of discussion around this incident is the overlooked escape routes in the prison, for armed citizens, the final chapter in the saga is the most notable. Here is the principle lesson learned: unattended and unsecured guns around the home arm criminals. This high-profile incident illustrates this, but it is a scenario that plays out every day. Firearms, jewelry, and narcotics are home burglaries’ most sought-after commodities. Leaving firearms loose throughout the house gives the criminal element easy access to guns that can be used for nefarious purposes.
Leaving guns unlocked in the home makes them easy pickings for any criminal actor who is brazen enough to enter your abode. The obvious liability involved is the fact that it puts a firearm in the hands of a violent criminal, who may use it in the future for the commission of crime and violence. The other, more immediate, danger involved is that the homeowner or other dwelling residents will get killed with their own gun. This has happened more times than most realize.
An enormous percentage of guns used in crime turn out to be stolen, as many homeowners are cavalier about leaving their guns lying around. Things have improved in recent years, as the masses of gun owners tend to be better educated about gun safety, but the problem certainly persists. Gun theft from cars, in particular, is a widespread trend that has grown in recent years. Despite the ongoing attempt to promote safety through education, guns also get stolen from houses frequently, even now.
Now, in the 21st Century, there is little excuse to leave guns unsecured in the home. We are in the golden age of security technology and devices that lock the firearm away from unauthorized hands but provide quick access to a home defender. Most burglars are not equipped, nor do they have the time, to crack into safes to access firearms during the robbery, but when guns are unsecured, they can be simply picked up and taken. Many armed homeowners point to the need for immediate access to defensive tools as the reason for leaving guns open in the house, but the availability of quick-access safes negates this argument.
Carrying a Gun at Home
The only safe way to ensure a gun is available for immediate access in the home is to have it on your person. Many still consider home carry excessive, but it is actually the safest way, and the surest way, to stay armed in the house. Home invasions often transpire quickly, and there is no guarantee that even an openly stashed gun will be accessible when it happens. A pistol, worn on the body, is the only gun that remains accessible under such a surprise circumstance. A pistol that is worn on body is also, obviously, much more secure than a gun left loaded and unlocked somewhere in the house.
Any other firearm beyond the one that is on your person should be locked away, period. A gun does not belong in the sock drawer, under a couch cushion, or on top of the refrigerator; it only belongs on your person or in a safe. A firearm is only under your control if it is on you. A gun that is left unsecured somewhere in the home is not under your control. While criminal acquisition of the gun is a possible danger, the greater threat still is the very real possibility of children or unauthorized adults accessing the firearm and causing devastating injury to themselves or others. For these reasons, unsecured firearms are simply irresponsible.
Quick Access Safes for Fast Acquisition
The argument that secured guns are not quickly enough accessible has been made rather moot in recent times with the advent of quick access safes and other forms of locks that can secure a firearm from unauthorized access yet facilitate the ability to bring the firearm to bear very quickly. These devices are available for both handguns and long guns. Any firearm that is not on person, yet kept for deployment in defense of the home, belongs in such a device.
Guns that are not explicitly kept for quick access self-defense are best stored in a large, truly theft-resistant safe. When the household is gone from the home for extended periods, it is best to leave all firearms in the large, robust gun safe to make criminal acquisition as difficult as possible. Most quick-access safes are not as resilient against attempted break-ins as are larger, dedicated, heavy duty gun safes, but they still often thwart the common burglar, and they would certainly thwart a quick smash and grab theft.
As illustrated by the recent prison escape, an open gun can quickly fall into the hands of a dangerous criminal, and, in turn, the gun might be used on the homeowner and household or be used on other innocent people or law enforcement officials when the criminal takes it for further nefarious use. If you wish to ensure quick access to a defensive firearm in the home, then carry one or have one in a quick-access device. Leaving open guns around the home is not acceptable.