When It Comes to Safe Storage Only the Gun Industry Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

Safe storage laws are a nanny-state nightmare.

The recent massacre in Santa Fe, Texas, has already fallen out of the national news cycle. Unlike the Parkland murderer, the perpetrator didn’t use one of those scary “assault weapons” you’ve heard so much about. He killed 10 people with his father’s shotgun and a .38 revolver, and the anti-gun lobby has struggled to spin the story when even Uncle Joe is encouraging Americans to buy a shotgun for home defense.

But anti-gunners are a resourceful lot, and they’ve latched onto the only gun control measure available after this most recent tragedy: safe storage laws.

Investigators haven’t said how the murderer, whose name you won’t find in this article, acquired his father’s firearms. The suspect is also too old for the state to prosecute the father for negligent storage, which in Texas only applies if the child is under 17 years old.

That, of course, hasn’t dissuaded mainstream media outlets from lamenting the tragic lack of state and federal laws that allow prosecutors to punish parents for crimes their children commit with their firearms. Twenty-seven states already have some kind of child access prevention law, but some believe that number should be higher, and the penalties should be more severe.

CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem chided Second Amendment advocates for not being at the forefront in “promoting safer gun ownership standards, as well as liability for parents who negligently, or even purposefully, allow their kids access to guns that the child couldn’t otherwise buy.”

“Unfortunately,” she continues, “the NRA has traditionally taken a hard line against legal liability for those whose guns are taken, no matter the negligence that allowed it, and used in a crime.”

The Huffington Post followed suit, quoting in its coverage of the shooting a gun control advocate from Austin named Ed Scruggs.

“Right now, the state really does very little, if anything, to encourage the safe and secure storage of firearms at all,” Scruggs insisted. “It’s not really a gun rights issue, it’s just a gun issue and we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss it.”

“Maybe people grew up in a house with hunting guns and other guns available, but they need to realize that we’re living in a different time,” he continued. “We can never be too safe.”

SEE ALSO: GunsAmerica Gun Safe Buying Guide

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo went a step further, telling CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “I believe that anyone that owns a firearm, that doesn’t secure it properly, ends up in the wrong hands, and used to kill innocent people, that that should carry some significant consequences. We need to think about that on the national level across this country.”

The hoopla is ironic, first of all, because Texas already has a law that allows the state to prosecute someone who fails to secure a loaded firearm in a place where a child under 17 can access it. Multiple Texas Republicans, furthermore, have come forward to reiterate the need for gun owners to properly secure their firearms.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told a crowd in front of Santa Fe High School, “If you’re a parent and you own guns, lock your guns safely away. Your children should not be able, or anyone else, to get your legally owned guns. …This is one big step we can take.”

Later that afternoon, U.S. Senator John Cornyn said that it’s “only prudent” that parents keep their firearms under lock and key, and Gov. Greg Abbott has instituted a series of roundtable discussions to hash out a variety of school safety proposals, one of which has been safe gun storage.

More broadly speaking, and in contradiction to Kayyem’s assertion, the firearms community has for decades been at the forefront of promoting safe gun ownership standards. The National Rifle Association encourages its members to “store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons” and offers a variety of safety and education resources.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation instituted Project ChildSafe in 1999, which has since partnered with thousands of law enforcement agencies to distribute more than 37 million firearm safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. Safety kits include a cable-style gun lock and safety instructions that allow gun owners to property secure their firearms even if they can’t afford a large gun safe.

Gun manufacturers have joined the movement as well, and since 1998 they’ve included with firearm purchases more than 70 million free gun locks worth over $140 million.

SEE ALSO: Kids and Guns: Important Tips for Safe Storage

More guns in circulation yet fewer firearms-related accidents.  (Photo: NSSF)

Firearms manufacturers, owners, and advocacy groups have, in short, put their money where their mouth is. Unlike the anti-gun lobby, the firearms community has enabled gun owners to secure their firearms and prevent access by unauthorized persons, including children. NRA and NSSF members are happy to donate to organizations that encourage parents to practice safe gun storage, and there has been a 24 percent decline in fatal firearm accidents between 2006 and 2015.

If gun owners promote safe gun ownership and work to make it a reality, a gun control advocate might ask, why don’t they support laws that mandate safe storage?

The reasons are numerous, but many Americans would no doubt cite one of the primary motivations for owning a gun in the first place: self-reliance. Gun owners understand that a firearm enables independence from the state. With a firearm, a man or a woman can defend themselves and their families without relying on law enforcement, ensuring that they can manage any life-threatening situation the might arise.

Gun storage laws could jeopardize their ability to handle these situations effectively. As Gov. Greg Abbott pointed out, “If you hear someone breaking your glass or kicking in the door at night, you don’t have time to run and get the keys and unlock a vault device.” Quick access safes can provide a nice compromise, but not all gun owners have the means to purchase additional storage solutions. Sometimes, a loaded shotgun on the top shelf is the only thing standing between a law-abiding citizen and a criminal attacker.

Americans since the founding, furthermore, have owned firearms to defend themselves when the government can’t, and this self-governing attitude continues to inform how many consider the role of the state. If something can be accomplished in the private sector, Americans are hesitant to give elected officials yet another avenue into their homes, lives, and gun safes. They’d rather fix societal ills by relying on themselves and their neighbors than bureaucrats and politicians.

SEE ALSO: Save Lives! Donate to NSSF’s Project ChildSafe! — SHOT Show 2016

Punishing parents for the actions of their teenage children directly contradicts this mindset because it empowers the state rather than the individual. It’s one thing to punish someone for leaving a loaded firearm in a room with toddlers. It’s quite another to allow, as Massachusetts does, a person to be fined and jailed if a police officer finds an unloaded shotgun hidden in a bedroom closet. Given the government’s tendency to expand its power, and gun control proponents near-insatiable desire to restrict gun rights, firearm owners can’t be blamed for suspecting that the first scenario might lead to the second.

If gun control proponents want to ensure safe gun storage practices are followed, they might find more success partnering with organizations that have a proven track record of promoting secure gun storage. If, on the other hand, they and their media outlets continue to push state control, malign the NSSF and the NRA, and attack gun owners, they’ll fail to enact the change they want in pro-gun states like Texas and Florida.

Both sides of this debate want to keep kids safe, properly secure firearms, and avoid another Santa Fe massacre, but only the pro-gun community has donated millions of dollars to the effort. If they really care about protecting kids, the anti-gun lobby should do the same.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Amado leon June 2, 2018, 1:49 am

    All comes down to parenting and family values all these kids do today is sit at home and play video games that’s has to corrupt the Mind somehow

  • Daddio7 June 2, 2018, 12:31 am

    Safe storage laws are a step closer to gun confiscation. Most people will not obey them, they, like me, will think they do not really have to. Even severe penalties for having your gun stolen and used in a crime will not deter many, they will just think that it wont happen to them.

    When gun deaths do not go down enough the government will strengthen the storage laws to require home inspection for all gun owners to insure safe storage. Random inspections will need to be made to insure all guns are always safely stored. The slope will get more and more slippery.

  • Bigrocrek June 1, 2018, 11:13 pm

    Jim – Thank you! Common sense. Which gun owners I am in contact with all have. Brent – Somewhere there is a village looking for you…

  • Rudolf Diesel June 1, 2018, 9:48 pm

    Please tell me why my previous comment was not posted. I clicked SUBMIT and got the alert that it was being moderated.

    I violated no policies of decorum or civility. My statements were factual and accurate. Even if you do not agree with them, I think they presented a worthwhile point of view and contributed to a better understanding of these issues..

  • Rudolf Diesel June 1, 2018, 6:05 pm

    GUN CONTROL BEGINS AT HOME.

    My thought is that we are responsible for our firearms at all times. It is OUR blame if a ” burglar breaking into my LOCKED home while we are away, stealing a gun then potentially using it to commit a crime. Making me culpable in their crime because my gun wasn’t stored inside a locked safe inside my locked home.”. Symbolically LOCKING the front door is NOT safe storage. If we leave our home, we must store our weapons in a manner that prevents them from leaving with a burglar.

    Regarding the quote attributed to Governor Abbot about the time it takes “… to run and get the keys and unlock a vault device.” one can always have a sidearm on person during the day and at night the “loaded shotgun on the top shelf” is under ones immediate control and need not be securely stored; i.e., locked.

    Mr. Michaels writes, “…the firearms community has for decades been at the forefront of promoting safe gun ownership standards. The National Rifle Association encourages its members to “store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons” and offers a variety of safety and education resources.” and also from his article, “Firearms manufacturers, owners, and advocacy groups have, in short, put their money where their mouth is. Unlike the anti-gun lobby, the firearms community has enabled gun owners to secure their firearms and prevent access by unauthorized persons, including children. ”

    Those facts he cites (I accept them as such) have done little to prevent guns from falling into the hands of bad guys.

    For the six year period 2005 thru 2010, about 1.4 MILLION GUNS WERE STOLEN IN HOUSEHOLD BURGLARIES AND OTHER PROPERTY CRIMES. That is an AVERAGE of 232,400 guns per year. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/fshbopc0510pr.cfm

    Of those 1.4 million guns, ABOUT 78% WERE NEVER RECOVERED. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fshbopc0510.pdf

    Even Federal Firearm Licensee’s (FFL’s) have a poor record. In 2016 alone, the total number of PISTOLS, RIFLES, REVOLVERS, SHOTGUNS, DERRINGERS & MACHINE GUNS stolen or missing is MORE THAN 16,500.
    Remember, 16,500 is the NUMBER LOST IN ONE YEAR. To me, it is shocking that this group of approved dealers, those in the trade and presumably “the adults in the room”, can be so lax.
    https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/docs/undefined/osii508fflthefts-lossescy16pdf/download

    I repeat the phrase that began this post, GUN CONTROL BEGINS AT HOME.

    Since we the gun owning community have failed to voluntarily control our own guns, it is not surprising that others want to mandate that we do so.

  • Uncle Dave June 1, 2018, 12:39 pm

    Florida just quietly passed a law to lock up our guns (with the bump-stock ban). I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for a friend who is a LEO… and I pay attention to “our” government.
    I don’t have all the details. I still need to read exactly what the law says. But now basically Florida could have a law protecting burgers from being shot by home owners… Who have locked up their guns… (at least, I hope it’s not written that way).

  • Al June 1, 2018, 9:26 am

    The lack of a law does NOT prevent any prosecutor from bringing charges for negligence.
    This is such silly nonsense, how about a law for improper prescription mediations of psychotropic drugs?
    How about a law for improper parenting?

    • Area52 June 1, 2018, 3:23 pm

      Your first sentence is wrong. A lack of law does prevent a prosecutor from bringing charges to a individual. This is the way it should be. Could you imagine if district attorneys could invent their own laws. What if a prosecutor didn’t like semi auto firearms or over ten round magazines. could they prosecute the owner for “possession of a public menace” even though they are no laws banning them in the books? Gun owners have enough to worry about with their federal and state congress we don’t need district attorneys inventing their own crimes code.

  • Me June 1, 2018, 9:05 am

    So Brent, what do you suggest?

  • joefoam June 1, 2018, 9:04 am

    So if your kid takes the keys to your car, goes for a joy ride and kills someone is that the same? These folks are using fear and ignorance as usual to inject emotion into the debate rather than logic. Fearful, ignorant parents will give up their guns rather than take a risk, because you know ‘you can’t be too careful’.

  • Brent Franklin June 1, 2018, 7:45 am

    Instead of making baseless claims to justify the defense of the indefensible maybe the author should stop using NRA talking points and actually think about what he writes before he puts pen to paper. Instead of.lashing out and trying to divide, the author could take a view to protect our country and promote some harmony. Instead of lambasting the “left” he should consider that many of us in the NRA want to build bridges with those who do not want/have guns. As a gun owner, while I have rights, I also have responsibilities. One of those is to safely secure my firearms. Instead of belittling the opposition, let’s reach and build a concensus on what we agree on. If someone can kit afford to properly secure theor firearm, should they be allowed to own one? Should they have to buy a safe before their 3rd color TV? If you truly want to secure our second amendment rights, then the NRA should be publicly leading the discussion instead of putting it’s collective head in the sand. What should responsible gun owners do to secure their firearms? Having hack politicians take dangerous photos of them pointing a firearm at someone doesn’t protect our rights – it just shows a lack of gun safety and common sense. No wonder we are losing the PR war with morons like that.

    If we lose our rights, or they are curtailed in any way, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

    • Rick June 1, 2018, 12:21 pm

      Brent, let me ask you a question. Were you born with your sense of responsibility or did your parents teach you that behavior? My point is that it’s not the responsibility of the government to ensure our kids are safe. It’s the parents responsibility to instill the correct behavior. My parents weren’t great but they taught me there were consequences to my actions and what acceptable behaviour was. Too many parents nowadays are leaving the responsibility of raising their kids to the government. It’s a tired saying but it’s still true, spare the rod….

    • Jim June 1, 2018, 1:58 pm

      While I agree with most of your statement the one thing I recall of the NRA’s opposition to some of these safe storage law proposals is the broad wording.
      For example; my wife and I live alone, our children are in their thirties. “Safe storage” isn’t an issue in our home however many of these laws are so broadly written to include a burglar breaking into my LOCKED home while we are away, stealing a gun then potentially using it to commit a crime. Making me culpable in their crime because my gun wasn’t stored inside a locked safe inside my locked home.
      I believe once someone reaches the age of consent or adulthood they should be held accountable for THEIR actions, there is way too much deflection going on in our society. It always seems to be someone else’s fault or some inanimate objects fault that “caused” the crime.
      Yes, gun owners are responsible to safely store their weapons however when another adult uses them without permission or ,more accurately, misuses them that isn’t the owners fault.
      It’s like the well worn argument: was it the cars fault or the drunk drivers fault for the crash? Or was it possibly the fault of the car dealership for selling it or manufacturer for building it? Where does the deflection end?

      • Clem June 1, 2018, 3:05 pm

        Growing up with guns in the house my friends and I all had access to them. The guns were in nice glass display cabinets with the key in the door. I also took my hunters safety course in the 7th grade in a public school in NY State. After school in junior high we would regularly grab our 22s and head out to the woods. We never ever thought shooting someone was acceptable unless in self defense.

        Remember all the gun violence on TV back then? It was usually a western where the good guy ended up shooting the bad guy in the end. The media, Hollywood, and our schools (lack of gun safety training) own this problem along with the parents who fail to educate and discipline their children.

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