Gun Safety Laws — IT’S A TRAP!
Every time I hear about another round of so-called “gun safety” laws, I tend to go full Admiral Ackbar. What is it about gun control, gun confiscation and gun elimination groups coming up with “gun safety” laws that make me nervous? Perhaps it’s that they have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with control, confiscation and elimination.
A recent case in Massachusetts highlights the issue. Massachusetts law requires all firearms to be secured in a locked cabinet or with a trigger lock when not “carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.”
Based on a tip, police obtained a search warrant for the house of a 65-year-old male who lived alone and had “dozens of improperly secured firearms inside”. 98 mostly vintage firearms including shotguns, rifles and pistols, including Mauser bolt-action rifles and lever-action Winchesters, were seized during the search along with cases of ammunition. According to police, “Most of the items were improperly stored, strewn about his home”. Also seized were five “military grade ordnance shells” reportedly from a Naval Depot that closed in 1962 and several brass grave markers from the cemetery across the street from the residence. Following the seizure, the town’s police chief proudly boasted, “All the weapons are out of the house, the neighborhood is safe,”
For the sake of today’s argument, let’s skip over the grave markers and the so-called “military grade ordinance” which were reported to have gun powder in them, but didn’t have to be disarmed before being removed, a.k.a. probably demilitarized collectables with a little bit of residue, and deal with the subject of the search, unsecured firearms.
How did this happen? Most likely someone visited this person, obviously a collector of classic arms, and reported it to police who obtained the warrant. Seized were all the “improperly secured” firearms as well as those that were properly secured AND all ammunition on the property, secured or otherwise. Note: Massachusetts law also places restrictions on the amount of ammunition you can legally possess, with and without a special storage permit. None of the reports I’ve seen indicated he had more than the allowable amount of ammunition, just “cases” of ammo.
So what is a properly secured firearm in Massachusetts? Apparently one that is stored in a locked cabinet, has a trigger or gun lock on it or is under the person’s direct control. Typically direct control means being in the same room with it. Your firearm on the kitchen table would not be under your direct control if you are upstairs in a bedroom. It doesn’t seem to matter if your house is a locked, alarmed, has 24-hour video surveillance or otherwise inaccessible to anyone but you, the house itself is not considered “secure”.
The theory behind the so-called “gun-safety” storage laws is that they prevent thefts and suicides. Well, yes and no. Having a state-approved trigger lock or cable on a firearm isn’t going to prevent its theft since you just take it with you. Even full sized safes can be cut open or, as they are in many cases, moved out of the house to be opened later, even if they are bolted down. Trigger locks or cables may slow down the curious toddler, but any age above that is going to figure out how to get it off. And if you already have access to the firearm and locks, well… how is this going to prevent suicide?
Many states mandate some form of locked storage. More recently, municipalities have jumped on the gun control bandwagon and mandated their own stricter versions, including requiring firearms be unloaded with ammunition stored separately.
First off, proper firearm storage is critical for everyone who owns firearms; it is the single most important aspect of responsible firearm ownership. Those who rely on their firearms for self-defense inside their home are especially acute of this.
One of the things we discuss in basic firearms classes is safe storage in the home, but most importantly is that it is not a one size fits all solution. What constitutes “safe” may be look radically different for someone who has children vs. someone who lives alone. There are a wide variety of security products designed for rapid accessibility combined with high safety, but these options become progressively expensive as the features increase and may be out of reach for everyone.
We often think of our homes as our castles, our private domain where we are protected from the outside world, including government interference. We believe that as long as we are safe within our walls, nobody will bother us. However this case in Massachusetts, and many others like it, illustrate otherwise. Under the guise of “gun safety”, it is just another tool to be used to take firearms from the otherwise law-abiding citizen.
Whenever you hear someone proposing more “gun safety” laws, rules to “make you safer”, think about what happens when you don’t measure up to someone else’s one-size-fits-all standard, even if it doesn’t make any sense in your situation. You might want to think about whom we allow inside our castle walls as well.
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