Gun Safety – What to do?
While gun legislation is hotly debated among national, state, and local lawmakers right now, I thought I’d share some information to help gun owners and others to be as safe as possible with firearms.
ProjectChildSafe.org is sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and recommends the following steps to help us be responsible gun owners.
First… A Message for our Children:
Young people see firearms on television and in the movies and that can make them curious. They might even be tempted to “play” with a gun. As parents, we must take time to teach children a few basic rules:
- Don’t go looking for guns in our house or a friend’s house. Don’t let other kids look for guns in our house.
- If you find a gun in our house or anywhere else, STOP! Leave it alone. Don’t touch it. Don’t let anyone else touch it. Leave the area and be sure to tell an adult at once.
- Even if a gun looks like a toy, don’t touch it. Some real guns look like toy guns, so don’t take a chance. Leave the area and immediately tell an adult.
- REMEMBER: If you find a gun, don’t pick it up. Leave it alone and tell an adult right away.
Storing Firearms in a Safe Manner:
As gun owners, it is our absolute responsibility to store guns in a responsible manner. We must ensure that no firearms are accessible to children or other unauthorized persons, such as someone committing a burglary. Hiding a gun in a closet or under a mattress is not responsible storage.
A place you think is a good hiding place is often the first place a burglar or child may look. Please be a responsible gun owner; store your weapons in a safe manner.
- Unloaded firearms should be stored in a locked cabinet, gun safe or vault, or storage case. Be sure to place the locked storage case in a location inaccessible to children.
- Unloaded firearms can also be secured with a gun locking device. But, a gun lock should always be considered an additional safety precaution, and not a substitute for a locked cabinet, closet, safe, or storage container.
- Store ammunition in a locked location separate from firearms.
- Always recheck a firearm when removing it from storage to ensure it is unloaded; always treat a gun as if it were loaded.
- Remember, cost should not be a factor in safely securing firearms. A responsible gun owner is one who has made proper arrangements for storage. If you can’t afford a gun safe, consider purchasing a keyed door lock for a closet, and utilize trigger locks; or partially disassemble your firearm and store the parts in separate, locked containers.
Firearms Kept for Home Security:
The decision to maintain a firearm in the home for self-protection is a serious, personal matter. Unlike passive safety devices such as alarm systems, firearms used for home protection require significantly more involvement by the owner.
Any added safety benefit derived from a firearm depends in large measure on the owner's commitment to obtaining appropriate training and a clear understanding of safe handling and storage practices.
Are your security concerns realistic and consistent with local crime rates? Do other adults in your household support the decision to maintain a gun in the house? If they will have access to the firearm, will they join you in a firearms training and safety programs? What precautions will be practiced to safeguard children? Do risk factors such as drug and alcohol abuse exist in your household?
If you must have quick access to a loaded firearm in your home, you need to take special safety measures. Keeping a gun to defend your family makes no sense if that same gun puts your family or visitors at risk.
If you choose to keep a firearm for home security, your objective should be to create a situation in which the firearm is readily available to you, yet inaccessible or inoperative to others. A special, lockable case that can be quickly opened only by authorized individuals is an important option to consider.
You must exercise full control and supervision over a loaded gun at all times. This means the gun must be in secure storage whenever you are not home.
Remember, your most important responsibility is ensuring that unsupervised children or intruders will not encounter a loaded firearm. The precautions you take must be completely effective. Anything less invites tragedy and is a serious violation of your responsibility as a gun owner.
An unwanted firearm can become a problem. These firearms usually make their way to the back of a closet, the bottom of a drawer, or under a bed. Even if you don’t want the gun, you still have to store it in a safe manner (like those recommended above). If you don’t want the gun, local law enforcement organizations will take it off your hands. Recently, I spoke with Sheriff Tom Allman, Chief Scott Mayberry in Fort Bragg, and Chief Gerry Gonzales in Willits. We all agree that if you have an unwanted firearm, you can turn it into our departments for destruction.
If you do wish to bring in your firearm to the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office for destruction, it is best if you call us first, or come in without the firearm to advise us of your plans. Bringing a firearm into police or sheriff station without notification can quickly heighten a law enforcement officer’s sense of personal safety.
If you’d prefer to sell your gun, most gun dealers can help you. If you have an unwanted firearm, consider contacting a local gun dealer and arranging a consignment sale. Not only will you be rid of an unwanted weapon, you’ll get some spending money in the transaction.
Gun Safety Rules:
Gun handling and gun ownership come with tremendous responsibility.
As ProjectChildSafe.org says, “If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with – or are unable to accept – these responsibilities, we strongly urge you not to own a firearm.”
And please, always remember these important rules of firearm handling:
- Alwaystreat a firearm as if it’s loaded – never assume it’s unloaded;
- Alwayspoint a firearm in a safe direction, and;
- Alwayskeep your finger off the trigger – even an unloaded firearm.
Nearly all gun accidents in the home can be prevented by making sure that firearms are kept unloaded and locked up – with ammunition separate location. If you’d like more information about firearms safety and storage, ProjectChildSafe.org is a good place to start. On the Ukiah Police Department website we have posted this information and these links, so you can obtain more information.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.