First-Time Gun Owner's Tips - Part 4

Part IV - Ultimately, It’s about safety

In the first two articles about safety, we discussed the basic rules and some technical considerations.

Today, we will look at recommendations for the daily management of your firearm. Specifically, when you are carrying it and when you are not.

 

A quick disclaimer: you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and the safety of those around you. We can only offer some perspective on general principles, but your circumstances may be vastly different from what we explore here. The decision of how you will handle your guns is yours only, and your responsibility.

  1. Safe Storage
  2. Safe Carry
  3. Open Carry?

vaults

Safe Storage

You will find that in a 24-hour period, there is a significant part when you do not want or are not able to keep your gun on you.
Three main circumstances come to mind: at night, at home but unable to carry and when away from home.

At Night

How you will keep your firearm at night will depend on several factors, the main one being the presence of children.

If only responsible and authorized adults live under your roof, you can afford to keep the gun on your nightstand or in a drawer, readily accessible, but OUT OF IMMEDIATE REACH. The idea here is that you want to be forced to get out of bed and be somewhat awake before you grab the gun.
Holsters that attach to the bed frame are available, but I do not like them because again, they keep the gun within reach.

On the other hand, if children are around, you must absolutely secure your weapon out of their reach.
Let us put one principle to rest right away: hiding guns NEVER WORKS. Kids WILL find anything you attempt to hide, no matter how clever you are. They are cleverer.

I would suggest you research gun safes, sometimes called gun vaults. There are many models on the market that are sized for just one or two handguns and will fit on your nightstand or under your bed.
Depending on the model, they will open with a key, a digital code, the presentation of a special token (RFID) or by recognizing your fingerprints. Whatever you choose, you will have to restrict access to the key or token, if that is the system you selected.

At Home

You are at home, but unable to keep your gun on you, perhaps because you are in the pool or shower.
Again, there will be a difference whether children are present. If kids are around, the same rules as for the night apply: lock it up.
Otherwise, consider whether you have direct control of your weapon. The last thing you want is for an intruder to grab your gun and use it against you. So, if it is not within immediate reach, secure it appropriately.

Away from Home

There are circumstances when you will have to leave your favorite gun at home. My general recommendation would be, again, to lock it up. If you have a big safe, that’s probably where it belongs as it will be protected from theft (thieves would probably just take the smaller safe with them).
Regardless, you don’t want to leave any firearm readily accessible to  anyone who walks into you house, invited or not.

Safe Carry

If legal where you live, and if you make that choice, you will carry your favorite pistol outside the home.
Let’s be clear: never carry a gun without a holster. Ever. Period.
Any holster worth its salt must satisfy at least two criteria: cover the trigger and retain the gun adequately. Anything less than that is an accident waiting to happen.

What about pocket carry?
First of all, choose a pocket and do not place anything else in it. Then insert your gun in a pocket holster. There is a good choice of pocket holsters on the market that will accommodate all sorts of small pistols and revolvers. Never, under any circumstances, place a gun in a pocket without a holster, there is a very high risk of accidentally pulling the trigger.

Open Carry?

Several US States allow open carry of a firearm, i.e. with the gun visibly displayed, typically on your belt.
If you are not a Police Officer, I would recommend against that, although it is your absolute right to ignore me.

I see three reasons for staying away from this practice:

  1. Your weapon is exposed to be grabbed by a thief, or worse.
    Few holsters for civilian carry have Level 2 or Level 3 retention.
    We will discuss holsters in a future article, but it means no security.
  2. You are drawing attention to yourself.
    This is the proverbial “shoot me first” sign. Should anything go south, you will be a primary target for the bad guys.
  3. Some people may feel intimidated.
    In today’s urban settings, most people are no longer accustomed to seeing guns in their everyday life.
    We know we are the good guys, but they don’t.
    Let’s be responsible gun owners and avoid alarming our fellow citizens for no good reason.

We are done with the fundamentals of safety for now. In future articles we will talk about other aspects of gun ownership. But regardless of your level of experience, firearm safety will always be your first concern.