2020 was a record-breaking year for firearms sales, and it seemed like almost everyone that I know personally ended up making a purchase or taking a class. I think people began to realize that with a pandemic, civil and political unrest, increased police response times, and toilet paper shortages (of all things), we have to be our own first responder. With so many people embracing personal defense and protection via gun ownership, there is one item that every gun owner should have, and that’s a gun safe.
Firearm security is serious, at home and on the road.
Anywhere between 300,000 and 600,000 firearms are stolen each month, according to data gathered by researchers at Harvard and Northwestern University, and stolen guns are used in crimes. According to the Firearm Security Alliance, the number one firearm theft locations are vehicles. If you’re driving and carrying your firearm, you absolutely should have some type of portable safe that can be secured in your vehicle. The easiest and least expensive option is a Snapsafe lock box. It comes with a braided steel cable that can be secured to the bottom of the seat in your car and locks with a key. You opt get the option with a 3-digit combination lock also. These are infinitely more secure than the case that your firearm came with at purchase. If you want a better option that has a touch activated keypad, the Vaultek LifePod series of portable safes is really great, too; I own the LifePod 2.0. There are many other brands or types of portable safes you can purchase, but these are the ones that I have direct experience with, and that experience has been overall positive.
Here are some common sense firearm security measures that you can take while you’re out and about:
- Keep your firearm on you, and only leave the firearm in the car if absolutely necessary. Know the applicable state and federal laws that identify places where you can’t bring a gun.
- If you have to leave the firearm in your vehicle, make sure it’s secure in a portable safe as mentioned. As an added security measure, if you need to leave your firearm in your vehicle, you can field strip the firearm and store the parts in separate areas of the vehicle.
- Pay attention to the environment, and people in the environment. Be situationally aware of who might be watching you secure your firearm in your car.
- Exercise discretion. I love stickers and decals, and the ones that come from gun manufacturers or adjacent companies can be really sweet, but that doesn’t mean they should be on your vehicle. Those things can identify you as a gun owner and may alert the criminal opportunist to target your vehicle.
At home, it’s SUPER critical to secure your firearm. I know I’ve discussed securing guns from thieves, but really you want to secure firearms from anyone who isn’t authorized to possess a gun; this includes children. In Detroit proper and throughout the Metro Detroit Area, there have been WAY too many instances of children finding unsecured firearms and harming themselves or others (and for the record, ONE is WAY too many). Once a person decides to become an armed defender, the moral and legal responsibility that person has to their family and/or society expands. In the US, 77% of accidental gun deaths happen in the home, and in Detroit, most negligent discharges happen when children are left alone at home. The good thing is that there are groups and organizations, like the Black Bottom Gun Club and National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe that are making an impact, but an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure, and ultimately the person who owns the firearms has to take the necessary preventative measures.
As I teach in my Michigan CPL classes, it may be that you trust your children or family around your firearms, but it’s not just your children or family that you should be concerned with. It’s your kid’s friends, your nieces or nephews, and their friends, and anyone else who shouldn’t have access to your firearms, including potential burglars or those friends or family members who can’t possess a firearm for a variety of different reasons. Just like a personal protection plan is designed to keep you physically, legally, financially, and morally safe, gun safes and locking devices aren’t just designed to keep your guns physically safe, but also keep YOU legally, financially, and morally safe as well. Secure your guns. If it’s not on your person, LOCK IT UP.
Additionally, it is FEDERAL LAW that loaded firearms may not be accessible to minors (anyone under the age of 18 years old).
Each of the above-mentioned safes will also work as a bedside secure storage option for an individual pistol or two (depending on the size), and my LifePod can hold my Glock 19 and a Glock 43x with a spare magazine.
If you have more than one firearm or handgun, you may want to begin looking at larger safes with configurations for multiple gun storage. There are other options that include biometric security, and there are low-tech options that are rated well also. You’ll really have to balance security from unauthorized access with the ease of access for you in a self defense situation. Pew Pew Tactical has a good article on some of these options. My advice is to add the cost of security into your budget for a firearm.