Keeping it safe
It's one thing to have aquired
a diverse collection of fine firearms; but quite a different thing to hang
on to it, and keep it safe. Firearms are suceptable to rust, breakage, and
theft. It is not too difficult to give a reasonable amount of care to a gun,
so that rust and breakage will not be a concern. For decades, centuries even,
cleaning firearms has been an integral, almost obsessive part of the
whole culture of firearms.Few things will brinig more rath down upon a soldier
than a dirty firearm. Few gun owners will handle a firearm without wiping
it down. Fewer still, will fire a gun without giving it a through cleaning.
So, for most firearms owners, rust, and wear are not huge concerns. Breakage
happens; but considering the margin of safety built into firearms, it is
unlikely than an unabused firearms will break. The average firearms will
outlive it's owner. Theft is another matter.
Guns are fairly expensive, restricted in some places,
illegal for owneship by certain people, and very dangerous. This makes
them prime objects for theft. Guns and drugs are the only two things which
can actually be sold for more than their market price, as stolen goods.
Add to this, the fact that there is little discouragemanmt for criminal
activity, and no real deterance is allowed to homeonwers, and you have
a situation that is taylor made for the encouragement of firearms theft.
Thieves have little fear of the police. Their biggest
fear is that of encountering an armed householder. This has been verified
by numerous surveys, and intervies with felons. Still, there is little
that the householder can do, legally, during a robbery. Though it varies
from state to state, in most places it is illegal to use leathal force against
a house breaker, unless threatened with lethal force. In many places the householder
has a legal obligation to flee and allow himself to be robbed. That's right;
in most states it is illegal to defend your property, and you are required
to allow yourself to be robbed. In the real world, there are ways around
this, and certainly there are numbers of housebreakers who are killed or
injured every year; but the law, as it stands in most places, does little
to discourage the plundering of the citizenry.
Since we are not allowed to use lethal force, in
most places, to protect our property, and since, regardless of that, we can
not always be home, we need to find a way to secure our firearms. Even were
it possible, no one wishes to spend his life standing guard over his property.
We do have other things to do, after all. You probably have a fair amount
of money invested in your collection. There are other reasons, besides self
interest, to wish to keep one's firearms secure. Part of the responsability
of being a gun owner is keeping these dangerous items out of the hands of
children, criminals, and the simple minded. Many insurance companies will
require you to have a gun safe, or some sort of secure storage, before they
will offer coverage on your firearms. Some localities have enacted laws,
which require secure storage of firearms. This will probably become more
common as time passes.
Ways of storing guns
The pioneers, and Minute Men, so our history tells
us, kept their firearms leaning against the wall, over the fireplace, against
the lamp stand, or in a rack over the top frame of the door. Guns were
tools to these people, and were treated as such. Most men of the time,
would not even consider going out of the house without a gun. It was like
a piece of clothing. In the army of George Washington, many of his men did
not have shoes, and had grown into manhood, never having owned a pair; but
they had all had rifles since boyhood.
Today, things are different. Few of us hunt for
food, there are no hostile forces occupying the country, other than the
liberals, and we no longer have Indians disputing ownership of the land
(though in most of our larger cities, we once more have bands of wild savages;
so perhaps things have not changed so much after all). We do not normally
go around armed, and firearms are considered to be out of place in most
of the day to day activities in which we engage in modern life. So like heavy
blankets during the summer, or camping gear in the winter, firearms are stored
away, for the occasions upon which they are used. For most of us, these occasions
consist of hunting trips, or visits to the range.
This is the least expensive, and in many ways the
most satisfying way to store guns. It is also the least secure, and offers
the lowest amount of protection from rust,
dirt, and handling. Still, it is nice to have one's guns up on the
wall, where they can be seen and admired. This also tends to give a roon
a certain rustic, masculine quallity. If you are married, and particulary
if you have children, this is probably not an option unless you have a private
room or study.
For many years, this is how I stored my guns. As
a single man, living alone, I had no objections or safety concerns to deal
with, and I liked the look it gave to my apartment. I suppose that it was
childish and vain; but I enjoyed having a place which gave the illusion of
an intersting, well traveled, and self sufficient occupant. It took several
wall racks to hold my entire collection, in addition to some hooks which,
pioneer fashion, held rifles over the door frame. and over the entrance
arch to my dining room.
Still, the guns had to be cleaned often, since they
were exposed to everything that drfted around my apartment, including
a considerable amount of dust. In addition, there were security issues.
I had lived on a very busy street, with many businesses, and a considerable
amount of foot and auto traffic. I was very aware, particuarly at night,
of the shades and curtains in my windows. During the day, it was not so much
of an issue; but at night, my gun racks would show up pretty clearly under
the lights of my apartment, if the shades were not drawn down and the curtains
were not closed.
My guns were also, thus, displayed to anyone who
might come into my apartment. This is not such a big deal with friends;
but neighbors, delevery people, repairmen, and the occasional stranger had
all been in my old apartment. It is pretty surprising, when you give it
some thought, all of the people who we allow in our houses, with no thought
Most gun racks have a locking bar; but this is pretty
laughable as a security measure. Though it may be a deterant to curious
children, the flimsy construction of these racks make bypasing the measure
pretty easy. Even the steel racks can simply be pulled from the wall.
As temporary storage for guns, perhaps at a hunting
cabin, a wall mounted rack is perfectly suitable; but as any kind of long
term or permenant storage solution, the wall rack is not even a consideration.
The days of the pioneer are, alas, gone forever, unless we someday begin
to colonize other planets.The days of the country home, the family farm,
and of rural America are closing fast. They are being replaced wiith huge
urban areas, integrating the former countryside into an extended urban sprawl.
This fosters a culture of dependace, monolithic anonimity, and conformity.
Easy access to guns around the house is no longer considered to be necessary
or even desirable, in this kind of culture. This also reduces the feeling
of neighborhood, and greatly encourages the growth of an underclass. So
in escense, there is a large class of people in these areas who have no
inhibitions about stealing, and the great mass of people, having lost their
sense of community, who have no desire to get involved in order to prevent
this. In such an environment, a gun rack on the wall is an invitation to
This is the traditional way for firearms to be stored
in an American home. Think of it as a sort of a male version of the china
cabinette. Through the cowboy days, up until the seventies or so, a gun
cabinet was a very common piece of furniture, in either the library/study,
or living room. Sometimes the wife would insist that the husband put his
gun cabinet in the basement or shop.
This follows the English tradition of the country
genlemen of a century or two ago. The gentry tended to be big gun enthusiasts,
and big shooting enthusiasts. There woudl be shooting parties, as well as
many forays out into the countryside to hunt. This was itself, a throwback
to the traditions of roaylty, who had always set aside private game parks.
Back in those days, a fine gun was like a fine painting, or a fine sculpture,
considered to be a work of art. It was only proper, then, that such an article
should be displayed proudly, and kept in a fine piece of furniture.
Most gun cabinettes have locks; but in common with
those of the gun rack, these locks are more a protection against access
by children, than any kind of serious protection against theft. A gun cabinette
is getting to be a throwback to a more genteel, cultured, and secure America,
when firearms were considered to be a respectable part of mainstream America.
Of course, this was a time when mainstream America was expected to be respectable,
criminal behavior was quickly, and harshly dealt with, and the public and
their government held each other in mutual respect.
I have never owned a gun cabinette, and do not reccomend
one. The only case in whcih such a thing makes sense is in the case of a
wealthy gunowner, with a good security system, or in the case of a country
house, or hunting lodge.
These have always been around; but became pretty
common in the seventies, and have practically replaced the gun cabinette.
A gun locker is a secure storage area for firearms, which is lockable, and
does not have any kind of window or grating, through which it's contents
might be viewed. I used one for a while, before my gun collection got really
large. It is now used to store ammunition, and some accesories. As a method
of secure stlrage, a gun locker is an improvement on a cabinette; but it is
not the ideal solution. Most gun lockers are little more than metal utility
cabinettes, with locks. The steel is rather thin, and the locks tend to be
of the keyed variety.
A gun locker will cost anywhere from sixty to seventy
dollars, up to perhaps a bit less than two hundred dollars. They will generally
hold from six to twelve long guns.
This is probably the way to go, and is my chosen
method of keeping my own gun collection safe. Good gun safes probably start
out at around $500 or so, and can go up as high as several thousand. A true
gun safe with have heavy steel walls, whcih are seamless, and will have
a fire protection rating. The lock will be a tumbler style, and will operate
a series of bolts, which lock either into a set of recesses, or into the
frame of the safe itself. A true gun safe will be quite heavy. It will be
built like a bank vault in miniature.
The dream of most gun enthusiasts is to have a gun
room. A gun room can be made from a closet, or any other small windowless
room. Often they are created in the basement, since the basement is an area
of windowless rooms, and cinder block walls. A gun room, properly planned
and configured, is the most secure, and satisfying way to store firearms.
They may be small glorified closets, with a few racks for long arms, or they
can be rooms with cabinettes, shelves, racks, tables, and chairs. Budget,
along with the intensity of one's obsession with firearms will dictate how
elaborate this space may be. Though a gun room is a possibilty for the apartment
dweler, it is generally a luxury confined to the home owner.
The simplest gun room is a walk in closet, with
a securely locked door. A new door will need to be hung, in most cases,
because most closet doors open outward, putting their hinges on the outside
frame. This makes it pretty easy to gain access, even if locked, by prying
up the hinges.
humidity, and temperature.
My Personal Gun Storage System
I will not go into too much detail about how, or
where, I store my own guns, since it is a simple enough matter for those
who wish, to find my address. You never know who might be out there. I will
only mention a few things. I have a pair of high security gun safes, in
a secure remote location. This location is temperature and humidity controlled,
and has it's own alarm system. Though nothing will stop a determined thief,
talented professional thieves generally do not concern themselves with the
level of profit that they might realize through robbing people like me.
What most of us need to worry about are amatuers, and the oportunistic house
breakers. For this type of theif, a high securty gun safe is sufficient.
Even a gun locker might do the trick, though I would not wish to risk a
$20,000 to $50,000 gun collection on the sheet steel walls and cheap locks
used on these models.
While I would have prefered a Liberty series safe,
this type of safe is so heavy that I would have never gotten it down into
my gun room. This type of safe, though offering better protection, wieghs
about 700 pounds. Instead, I bought a pair of smaller safes. My gun safes
weigh 200 pounds each, without the guns, and are of medium size. They
are designed to hold sixteen longarms each, as well as a number of related
items in door mounted storage compartments, and a shelf. They are of heavy
construction, are fire resistant (1200 degrees for one hour), and have
quallity combination locks. I dread moving day. These are not top of the
line gun safes, and cost me a bit over $600. Still this is a small price
to pay for the peace of mind that they offer. Each cost little more than
the price of a good handgun, or a fair to middling rifle. In addition to
their security, these safes give me a place to store my gun so that they
are out of the way.
|$25 - $50
|Curious Children, Guests
|$200 - $700
|Curious Children, Guests
|$70 - $200
|$300 - $2500
|Determiined Burglar, Fire
|Collector, Serious Hunter, Sportsman
|Serious Collector, Gun Enthusiast