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Do you need a gun safe? That’s up to you. A gun safe can protect your firearms and other valuables from more hazards than simply theft. But only you can decide whether you need it.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, burglars and other thieves stole approximately 1.4 million firearms during the commission of household burglaries and other property crimes between 2005 and 2010.
That equates to an average of 232,400 stolen firearms every year. However, aside from theft or unauthorized access, there are other hazards that could befall your firearms and ammunition. As a result, some gun owners choose to keep their firearms in a gun safe.
Reasons to Own a Gun Safe
The question, “Do I really need a gun safe?” has a simple answer: It depends. Whether you need one truly depends on why you own firearms, how you store them, and where you live. However, there are several reasons to own a gun safe.
Guns safes range from miniature containers you can use as nightstands to steel behemoths that weigh a ton.
When most gun owners think of buying a gun safe, the reason that first springs to mind is usually protection against theft.
However, opting for a safe alone doesn’t mean that your guns are secure. If you can’t bolt your safe to the floor or wall, you’ll need to find alternative ways of securing or hiding it. If a burglar can’t break into a gun safe, he may consider simply stealing it. As a result, it’s important to consider factors such as mobility and weight.
A gun safe for burglary protection is arguably more necessary for when you’re not at home than when you are. If you’re at home and a gun owner, your ability to retrieve a firearm and use it as a defensive weapon is a sufficient deterrent. However, when your home is vacant, your valuables are at their most vulnerable to criminals.
For protecting firearms, ammunition, and other valuables against house fires, a dedicated gun safe can provide a significant degree of protection.
Many gun safes are rated to withstand 1,750°F or more, which can preserve your weapons for a protracted period. Cartridge ammunition does not pose an explosion hazard the same way that large quantities of loose gunpowder do.
Investigate the safe’s fire rating — including whether the design has received certification from Underwriters’ Laboratories.
Other than preventing theft, if you have visitors or children, a gun safe can be a useful tool. Most firearms-related accidental deaths are preventable.
If you have children, teach your children firearms safety and handling, and periodically refresh these lessons. When your children are too young to understand these concepts, and before they’ve developed fine motor skills, you may simply need to secure your guns.
If you live with individuals that you do not trust to handle firearms responsibly, this can also be an effective tool for restricting their access.
If you own a firearm for self-defense, you may be skeptical of using a gun safe. A home-defense weapon should remain accessible to you, and a gun safe limits how quickly you can retrieve it in an emergency.
However, some quick-access security devices or containers allow you to use biometrics or an RFID bracelet to open the box and retrieve your firearm.
Whether you want to keep a firearm available outside of the safe is up to you, but a safe allows you to secure firearms that are non-essential for self-defense — e.g., hunting, competition, or collectors’ arms — the same as other valuables. Firearms represent a significant investment for many gun owners.
Firearms are not the only valuables gun owners possess. If you own jewelry, precious metals, rare collectibles, or need to keep legal documents secure, a safe can afford that protection.
Compliance with the Law
Always check your local laws, but many states and localities impose safe storage, firearm locking, child access prevention, and other requirements. In these jurisdictions, you must keep your firearms locked and unloaded, regardless of whether children have access to them. You can be held criminally liable for failure to do so.
In some jurisdictions, you may receive an insurance discount for keeping a gun safe. In other circumstances, a gun safe helps protect your firearms when insurance companies won’t.
Your homeowners’ insurance may not provide sufficient coverage to reimburse you for the full market value of your firearms. If you’re a professional or hobbyist gunsmith or possess highly customized firearms, you may only be entitled to a fraction of their worth in the event of theft or fire.
Features to Consider
A safe has to be durable and difficult to access without the combination, biometrics, or key. This means that you should look for safes designed to resist pry bar attacks, with locking bolts and other security measures that are difficult to cut. You should also consider weight.
Some safes can substitute for nightstands or coffee tables. Unfortunately, that means that they’re easier to maneuver by two or more men. If burglars can’t break into a safe inside your home, they’ll try to take it with them. The behemoths have weight as an additional advantage.
If the safe uses an electronic locking system, it should have a mechanical failsafe system and an onboard battery. Thieves cutting the power to your house should not deactivate the safe’s security systems. An interior light, sturdy shelves, separate compartments/drawers, and space are all characteristics worth having.
A gun safe is not mandatory for everyone. But you may determine that it’s one of the most effective ways to protect your firearms and other valuables. A safe can enable everything from compliance with safe-storage laws and child-access prevention requirements to protect against burglary and fire.
You may be able to avoid criminal or civil liability if an unauthorized person, whether child or criminal, gains access to your firearms. Alternatively, this may be the best way to avoid losing thousands of dollars worth of collectible weapons that your insurance company won’t reimburse.
It’s worth noting, however, that a gun safe may not be entirely necessary for your particular circumstances. If you spend most of your time at home, a gun safe is a less important accessory than it is for the frequent traveler. The same is true for couples and singles who do not have children in the home.
Whether you need a gun safe is up to you. But it can protect your valuables, including your firearms, from theft, unauthorized access, and other hazards. It may also be necessary for legal compliance.