Safety When You Own Guns

Keep guns secured against theft and unauth.oriz.ed handling.

Stolen guns supply criminals. When you're not using firearms, keep them locked up. Keep ammunition under lock and key in some other nearby location.

If it's not practical to lock up your guns, consider partially disassembling each one and stashing a key part. No good? Then place them in locked cases and hide the cases.

What about guns kept for defensive purposes? It's sad to say, but nowadays many people feel forced to keep a loaded gun handy for protection. A loaded gun is dangerous. You should store it safely and out of view. Imagine returning home to discover a thief in your house with your gun—and pointing it at you! It has happened. Remember, lock up even a gun kept for protection. In an emergency, it will only take a few seconds to retrieve it.

Concerning children, I wish I had a dollar for each time a proud dad said he didn't worry about his offspring. He brought them up right. They're so smart and so well disciplined that there would never be a problem with guns. I hope he's right. But small children are unpredictable, and teens are often likelier to be influenced by peer pressure than by their parents. You must also consider the youngsters your children bring home. Even when certain of your own children's discretion, can you guarantee that of others?

Children should enjoy guns under responsible adult supervision. Concerning responsibility, you can be held legally responsible if a minor injures or kills someone with your gun. Your emotional trauma would be far worse than anything a court could do. But the point is, Why risk trouble that you can avoid by simply following a safety rule?

Keep guns clean and in good mechanical condition.

"How'd this happen?" the man shouted as he motioned to the water gushing from the gaping hole in his water bed. The safety was on, but it went off anyway. True enough, the safety was defective. However, the malfunction should have been discovered with the gun empty.

Always keep your guns clean and store them in a protected environment. Before you use a gun, inspect the action to be sure it's empty. Then look down the bore and see that it's clear, and check the safety and other critical parts of the mechanism. Find problems with the gun empty.

Keep a record of each gun.

Record the gun's serial number along with a detailed description of it. Keeping a photograph also makes good sense. Nothing is more frustrating to a police officer than being told, "The thief took my gun! I don't know the make, but it was a pistol. No, I don't know what size. The number? What number?" Recording the make, model, type (rifle, revolver, etc.), finish, barrel length, and serial number increases your chances of recovery.

Also, for identification purposes, consider placing a card or label with your name and address under the buttplate on a rifle or shotgun, and under the grips on a handgun.

Note: Some people recommend engraving a social security number somewhere. I don't. This lowers value if you ever want to sell or trade.

When transporting guns in vehicles, keep them unloaded and out of sight.

If you pull over, even for a few minutes, and leave guns unattended in open view, you may return to a broken window and no guns. Also, depending on which state you're traveling in, transporting a loaded gun may be illegal. Personally, I never carry a gun in the glove box or under the driver's seat because these are the first areas a break-and-enter artist looks.

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