Here at Target Time Defense, one of the most important things we teach is firearm safety. That includes taking the proper precautions when you're shooting, but it also means storing your guns safely when they're not in use. Studies of accidental shooting deaths among children aged 14 and under found that 70% could have been prevented by proper firearm safety and storage.
Think about gun safety the same way you would think of the safety of any object that might be dangerous to a child, from poison to tools to knives. Guns should be kept out of the reach of children, ideally locked away.
To safely store a firearm such as a semi-automatic handgun, the first thing you should do is remove the magazine and make sure that it contains no ammunition. Next, pull the slide back and look inside the chamber to make sure that there isn't a cartridge chambered. Only once you've made sure that the gun isn't loaded do you know that it is safe to handle and can go on from there.
It is federally mandated that every new firearm come with a locking device. You will sometimes see a clamshell trigger lock, but more often new guns come with a cable lock. If you don't already have a cable lock, they only cost around $10 or $20. Some cable locks employ combination locks, but most are locked with keys. When using a cable lock or clamshell trigger lock, it is important to also store the keys in a safe place.
To install a cable lock on a semi-automatic pistol, you first lock the slide back by engaging the slide catch. You then drop the cable through the open ejection port and down the length of the barrel until it comes out the muzzle. You can then insert the loose end of the cable into the locking device and remove the key. This renders the gun safe by making it impossible to chamber a round. The gun cannot fire with this device in place, and if you drop the slide, the cable will prevent it from going into the battery.
A clamshell trigger lock, which costs between $10 and $25, works by sitting above and below the trigger and locking the trigger in place, preventing it from moving either forward or backward. While a firearm with a trigger lock in place is safe because the trigger cannot be pulled, it's important to note that trigger locks are not designed to be used on loaded firearms. Guns should always be unloaded before a trigger lock is installed.
Another important firearm safety device, especially for handguns and pistols, is a gun vault, which runs anywhere from $100 to $250. The vault is like a safe, and requires a four-digit code to be entered before the box will open. Gun vaults are unique because they allow you to safely secure your firearm in any state that you wish, either loaded or unloaded.
In the end, firearm safety in the home comes down to a responsible adult exercising common sense when storing a potentially lethal tool. Studies have found that the majority of accidental shootings among children could have been prevented by proper storage and firearm safety in the home.
Target Time Defense is an indoor shooting range, firearms training center, and gun shop in Blue Springs, Missouri committed to gun safety, education and training. Our instructor-led firearms training courses include classes that focus on safe gun handling and the proper use of firearms, as well as the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for kids. Learn more by visiting our Training page today!