Lock them up or not?

There’s a lock up the guns meme going around teh Interwabz today.

Although I do have a couple of safes, and I have firearms in them, you can take the lock ‘m up fetish to far.

A gun in a safe might as well not exist for self defense purposes.

Let me repeat that because it’s important:  A gun secured in a safe or with a trigger lock or locked in a case, is a gun that does not exist if you need to defend yourself or your family.  Unless the firearm is readily at hand, and in a usable condition (loaded) then you will not be able to make it usable in time when you need it.  When bad things happen, they happen fast and almost always catch you by surprise.  There is no time to unlock the safe or remove the trigger lock.  Sometimes there isn’t even time to pull a gun from a holster.  If you doubt me, watch some of the robbery footage on You Tube sometime and see how fast events unfold.

That’s one reason I’m opposed to the idea that all firearms must be locked up all the time.

But it’s not the only one.

You’ve heard that locks exist to keep honest folks honest.    The reason is that almost any lock can be defeated in a few seconds if you know how.  Guess what?  Criminals know how.

A little security digression:

Most people lock their cars.  There’s a whole industry around car locking: alarms, wireless locking/unlocking, etc.  But what does locking a car accomplish?  None of that will stop someone from stealing your car or breaking a window to get inside, so why the locks?  It’s our old friend Security Theater. Car locks are there to make you FEEL secure, although they do NOTHING to actually secure your car.  If a thief wants to steal your CDs or radar detector he will and there’s nothing you can do about it.

That’s why I usually don’t bother locking my truck.  The damage caused to the vehicle by breaking into it costs more to repair than whatever might be there to steal.  I learned that years ago when my radio was stolen from the truck.  Price of radio lost?  About $200.   Damage to truck?  $2K and some change, mostly to the window and door.   Although insurance covered most of it, I was still out my deductible and time off from work to drive to the repair shop, and loss of use of the truck for a few days.   I decided that it would have been far cheaper to have left the doors unlocked and paid for a new radio.

At best, a lock will slow down a thief to the point that he goes somewhere else, but most locks are defeated in seconds, so they’re not that much of a deterrence.   Safes are better but they’re also expensive, sometimes more expensive than the firearm(s) that would be stored in them.  Gun safes are also, for the most part, not high security safes that can resist attacks for 30 minutes or more and the ones that can are VERY expensive.

Locking guns up to protect them from theft, just like locking up your car, is security theater.  It might make you feel good, but if someone wants to steal your guns and they’re even slightly competent, they will be able to.

That’s another reason I’m not in favor of “lock guns up all the time”.  It’s next to useless for the purposes of preventing theft and laws that require locking up guns in order to “keep them off the streets” are as useless as the locks used on the guns.  In fact those laws are dangerous because they keep people from being able to use firearms for self defense while failing to accomplish the stated purpose.

The ONLY valid reason to lock up your guns is if you have children in the house that are too young to learn and understand gun safety.  Children are the only people who will be defeated by trigger locks and safes. (And by children, I don’t mean the Brady definition of anyone under 25.) Your average precocious tweener can probably defeat a trigger lock and already knows the combo to your safe so if you haven’t taught them gun safety and can trust them around firearms by then it’s too late and your locks are no better than whistling in the wind.

If you don’t have children then lock up your guns if it makes you feel good.  But realize that it’s just a feeling.  Your locked up guns are no more secure from theft than an unlocked gun in a drawer.

Exhibit A: Schneier on Security

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