Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun control needed

The title of this post is guaranteed to cause a spike in traffic, but I'm not talking about the type of gun control you might think.  The kind I'm interested in is the most basic type of gun control: the control of guns by their owners.  In several mass shootings during the past 20 years, someone with a serious emotional disturbance obtained their firepower by theft from an acquaintance or family member of unsecured or lightly-secured weapons.

I've published a few examples of careless gun storage here on my blog in the past.  That's just a snapshot of a larger problem, though.  Police officers investigate gun thefts with some frequency in which the security of the firearms is pretty poor: an unlocked door, a $15 key-on-knob lock meant for a bathroom, a window screen, and so forth.  Guns demand a little more security than your collection of garden tools.  I've seen plenty of tragedies and crimes committed when Junior helped himself to an unlocked gun in the household of his parent, grandparent, or friend, or when a disturbed person was able to get a hold of a firearm with minimal effort.

Here's what I suggest for gun owners: at the bare minimum, your firearms should be secured with a trigger lock. Better yet, use a gun safe, preferably one strongly mounted to the floor joists with some major lag screws, or (even better) to concrete with hefty anchors. I'd prefer the thief require something like a reciprocating saw, rather than merely a good-sized screwdriver. I like combination locks better than keyed locks. Anyone who thinks their 12 year old can't figure out where the hidden key is located fails to recall their own skill at the same age in finding mom and dad's hiding spots. If you worry about quick access, their are plenty of  lock boxes that will provide rapid access and at least a little bit of security, too.

Gun safes and lock boxes aren't a panacea.  The cheapest are easily defeated with hand tools, and as with everything, the good ones tend to be expensive. A decent box for a pistol or two will start at around $150, though, and still provides a fair degree of protection from a hurried, worried, and not-so-bright thief.  If you can afford a firearm, you can afford a proper storage solution.  A skilled thief with with a cool head (and even an amateur with plenty of time) and access to a tool box may be able to steal guns even when stored in a good strong box--but for protecting your guns against the less organized, less competent, and less determined, a gun safe is pretty, well, safe.


Herb said...

Mr. Director:

I disagree with plenty of your opinions, but sincerely and wholeheartedly agree with you here.

Thank you.

Steve said...

Certainly, securing guns as the director suggests would prevent at least some of the kinds of gun thefts that are common. I'm not so sure it would stop something like the most recent event in Newton. After all, if this kid was willing to kill his mother, is it not likely he might have forced her at knife point (or something) to open her gun safe, or simply tricked her by saying he wanted to go target practicing. I think locking up guns is probably more effective against strangers and small children than against older family members or friends. They will more likely know how to get past the locks somehow.

That being said, anything we can do that will actually help is better than nothing. I wouldn't have a big issue with banning high-capacity magazines. I think we need to close the loopholes in the laws already in place to help make sure we don't sell guns to people with mental problems. I have no problem with gun registration and waiting periods. I don't frequent gun shows or flea markets, and I don't know what is legal there, but from what I hear, that is another area where those with dubious backgrounds can more easily obtain guns. We should tighten up restrictions there, too.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you completely. This is not gun control, this is responsible gun ownership. More and more frequently we are seeing people who provide alcohol to minors who are involved in fatality accidents being arrested and prosecute. I see no reason not to have a similar law for gun owners.

A law to allow the prosecuting of gun owners for negligent storage of weapons might be part of the solution. If a person fails to take adequate steps to reasonable secure a weapon and the weapon is used to injury or kill someone the owner should be held criminal responsible.

Car 54

Anonymous said...

100% agree with you Director. I think that we should include one added step... If you or a family member are displaying concerning psychological problems, get the guns OUT of the house. It doesn't matter if you have a gun safe or trigger locks, find a friend or family member who will lock them up for you at a different location. My husband and I both agreed that if we were concerned about behaviors our children were displaying, we would give our guns to a family member with a gun safe so that they could not be easily accessed.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see all firearms owners lock up their guns with the exception of the gun they use for self defense. When you need a gun to protect yourself you do NOT want to be looking for a key or trying to remember the combination.

When a law abiding citizen decides to take his personal defense weapon with him he can carry it in the open or spend several hundred dollars to acquire a concealed carry permit. Many of us cannot afford the money it takes to obtain that permit. I would like to see several thousand Lincoln citizens wearing an exposed handgun everywhere they go. Crime would drop like a rock but you would have to hire a few dozen 911 dispatchers to handle the call volume. Make it like Vermont and allow ALL law abiding citizens to carry concealed.

Gun Nut2525

Tom Casady said...


Food for thought: Adam Lanza was a law-abiding citizen. So was Arthur McElroy, James Eagan Holmes, John Hinkley Jr., Erwin Charles Simants, Charles Whitman, Seung-Hui Cho, to name but a few, who--from a legal standpoint--we're not prohibited from buying, owning, or possessing firearms. See: Hole in his bucket.

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr Casaday you are correct. At one time all of those folks you mentioned were law abiding citizens. One thing you very seldom see in a newspaper or television newscasts are incidents where LAW ABIDING citizens have used a firearm in self defense. Unless that weapon is fired and someone is wounded or killed it will never hit the pages of the news or TV screens.

I have a feeling the number of lives saved by law abiding gun owners every year is exponentially higher than the number of people killed by firearms in homicides every year. That number will never be calculated because it is very seldom reported.

Yes guns in the wrong hands are very dangerous. However that same gun can be used to prevent death or injury to yourself and your loved ones.

Gun Nut

Jerry R said...

Gun Nut2525,
There is no scientific or other empirical research evidence whatsoever to support your beliefs. Zero.
I would recommend getting your facts from the "New England Journal of Medicine" rather than the "American Rifleman" or whatever else the NRA publish.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jerry R but there is. Google John Lott. But then if you are of the mindset that guns are the root of all evil you would just call him a nut anyway.
Gun Nutisi

Anonymous said...

This event took place recently. http://www.kgw.com/news/Clackamas-man-armed-confronts-mall-shooter-183593571.html
I don't recall seeing it on any MSM outlets.
Gun Nut

Steve said...

I'm not sure how totally accurate it is, but from what I've heard, there is some empircal evidence that crime drops when everyone is armed. A particular town, I think in Georgia or Alabama, apparently passed a law requiring every household to have a gun, and their crime rate is much lower than most any comparable place in the country.

Steve said...


Not only did your blog title bring a few more comments than others more recently, but we also drew several more gun nuts out. I'm not sure if it was the topic, or the latest gun-control talk in the media. I would say to gun-control advocates that they might want to be more covert in their actions and demands so as not to insure that everyone who wants one (or more) runs out and buys them up before they can get any legislation passed.

It seems nearly every gun store is running out of AR-15s, semi-auto handguns, large capacity magazines, and all the other things being mentioned as an answer to the Newton tragedy.

Ashley said...

Steve, you said "there is some empircal evidence that crime drops when everyone is armed." You are assuming that the drop in crime is due to the increase in guns. It very well might be due to the guns, but absent of a properly designed experiment, that claim cannot be made. It would be more accurate to say that in one instance a rise in gun ownership was CORRELATED with a decrease in crime, not that it CAUSED it.

On a different note, I'm curious how many people in Kennesaw, GA already owned a gun before this law was passed in 1982? My guess is it was already a very high percentage, and given that conscientious objectors could opt out of gun ownership, perhaps the law had little impact on actual rates of guns in homes.