Bad Guys Often Use Stolen Guns, And They Like To Steal Them From Us. Let’s Make It Tougher.
We’re all familiar with the Four Rules of firearms safety promulgated by the late, great gun guru Jeff Cooper. They can be paraphrased as: Rule One: All guns are always loaded, or at least treated as such. Rule Two: Never allow your gun’s muzzle to point at anything you are not prepared to see destroyed. Rule Three: Keep your finger out of the triggerguard until you are ready to fire, which I would interpret as “keep the finger out of the guard unless and until you are in the very act of intentionally discharging the weapon.” Rule Four: Always be certain of your target and what is behind it.
Some people—firearms instructor Steve Wenger, for one—propose a Rule Five: Keep your firearms out of dangerous, unauthorized hands.
Many of the guns used in crimes are stolen. The result is tragedy for crime victims and the often-overlooked pain of the initial crime victim in this continuum, the gun owner whose valuable property was stolen by one or more criminals in the first place.
In The Vehicle
A disproportionately large number of firearms are stolen from unattended motor vehicles. Plan A: Don’t leave guns in unattended motor vehicles. Unfortunately, this is sometimes about as effective a strategy as Nancy Reagan’s sweet, naïve recommendation for ending the drug problem, “Just say no.” It doesn’t take human nature and human affairs into account. If we’re on our way home from a hunt or the gun club, are we to wet our pants instead of stopping to find a rest room? Are we to starve on what might be a many-hours-long drive home from the match or the hunting fields? Does society even want us to bring our rifles in with us when we go to a restaurant? Recent history tells us no.
It’s a good idea to be low profile. Bumper stickers saying, “They’ll get my gun when they take it from my cold, dead hand,” or NRA stickers on the back window send a message satisfying to the person who put it there. But it sends another message to the gun thieves of the world: “Since people only put slogans on their cars about something important to them, this means guns are important to the owner of this vehicle. Important enough he may have one or more inside I can steal right now, if I just break this window… but, hey, if I can delay my gratification for just a little while, maybe I can follow this car home and find the mother lode of guns, and take ’em all when nobody’s at home but his wife and little kids…”
Do yourself a favor. Don’t do anything to flag your vehicle for theft. Consider an in-car safe bolted or cabled to the floor or the transmission hump. Those are a lot harder to crack than just breaking a window and prying open a locked glove box with a screwdriver. If you need to travel with long guns or lots of handguns, consider installing a security box built for the purpose in your trunk or back deck.
The old paradigm of proudly displaying firearms at home in glass cases with fragile locks has largely passed. Too many of those display cases have easily yielded their contents to thieves. If you haven’t already, strongly consider the new paradigm: gun safes. Don’t forget there are lots of other family valuables which can be stored therein.
Spinning a dial, retrieving an unloaded gun once you get the safe open, and then looking for ammo just ain’t the way to quickly arm yourself to fend off a fast-breaking home invasion. For a long time now, we’ve had individual lock-boxes with quick-release mechanisms to quickly put an already-loaded handgun at your fingertips. This can greatly slow down a thief’s access compared to the proverbial “gun in the nightstand or sock drawer.”
And, let’s not forget, the fastest access to a home defense handgun is to already have it with you, whether you’re at the computer, in front of the TV, or on the toilet when the intruder kicks in the front door. It’s called “home carry,” and it can be done with discreet concealment if family values don’t allow for a visible holstered sidearm when peacefully at home. This at once gives you instant access to self-defense and keeps your loaded handgun secure against unauthorized hands.
I recently did a benefit for an old and close friend who lost 40 or 50 guns to a clutch of particularly clever burglars. The financial loss? Several tens of thousands of dollars. The emotional cost? One of those guns has already been used to commit a murder. None of us want to go through what he has been going through.
Yeah, I know: It’s outrageous for us to have to worry about our valuables being stolen by low-life criminals. We have a right to keep our families and our goods in peace and not have to pay big bucks for security. I get it. But at the same time, those low-life criminals have always been with us, and are a fact of life. Isn’t this one of the main reasons we own defensive guns in the first place?