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Security Options for Your Handguns Abound

An abundance of security options is available for keeping your guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Here's a rundown.

Security Options for Your Handguns Abound

Pistol vaults like the GlideVault from SnapSafe provide security while still keeping defensive guns at the ready—with relatively quick access.

We don’t talk enough about handgun security. Just the other day our local paper carried a story about a woman who left a loaded handgun unsecured—and her six-year-old child got hold of it and died from an accidental gunshot. I don’t know the circumstances in that home, and personal responsibility certainly comes into play, but there are so many security solutions out there that this sort of thing simply shouldn’t happen.

If you’re new to gun ownership, it is especially important for you to be aware of what handgun security products are out there. If you’re not new, don’t turn the page. There’s a good chance you have friends or acquaintances who have recently become gun owners. Hopefully, you will either share this information with them or give them your copy of Handguns when you’re done with it.

There’s an almost bewildering array of security products out there, and I’m going to cover just the basics—with an eye toward those that are relatively inexpensive and will fit almost any situation. For the most part, these devices are primarily intended to keep guns out of the hands of unauthorized users like your kids or their friends—not necessarily to prevent theft from a determined criminal. 

Cable and Trigger Locks

Cable locks come free with every new handgun, as far as I’m aware. Unless someone has a bolt cutter or the time and ability to pick the lock or smash it to pieces, cable locks are going to stop someone from firing a handgun unless they have the key.

They couldn’t be simpler. On a semiauto, remove the magazine, lock back the slide and run the cable through the magazine well and the ejection port. On a revolver, run the cable through a cylinder hole.

The weakness here, and with other similar security devices, is the key. If a child or other unauthorized user knows where you keep it, that defeats the purpose. Hide the key well or keep it with you.

Trigger locks are in the same basic class as cable locks. They fit within the trigger guard to prevent the gun from firing. Some have combination locks, some are keyed. Not all locks will fit all trigger guards, which is something to be aware of. Don’t use these on loaded firearms. There’s too much of a chance you could cause the gun to fire while installing or removing the lock.

Lockable Pistol Cases

Security Options for Your Handguns Lockbox
Cable locks and lockable gun cases won’t prevent your guns from being stolen, but they will safeguard them from younger kids at least.

Your gun may have come in a lockable plastic case that you can secure with a padlock, or you can purchase an aftermarket case. Construction runs the gamut from light to heavy duty. They’re designed to protect a handgun from damage or the elements, but a locked case will deter small children.

Lockboxes

They’re inexpensive and effective. They secure to heavy furniture, bed frames, etc.,  via a steel cable. Most are considered “tamper-proof,” and without the key or combination, you’d need tools, time and strength to open one. (I also use a SnapSafe lockbox in my car to prevent smash-and-grabs when I can’t carry into a building.)




electronic Vaults We’re moving up in price here, but for that extra money you get not only tamper-proof security but also ready access—through keypad combos, biometrics or RFID/keypads.

They may bolt to furniture or secured via cable. There are vertical styles that can be located in less conspicuous spots, like on the side of a desk or a sturdy nightstand. The drawer- or hinged-lid style is more versatile in terms of internal space and depending on size may be able to secure multiple handguns or one handgun and valuables.

While these do have key backups, their primary electronic access systems make them quick and easy to get to your handgun. That’s a plus for home-defense firearms. Some vaults come with a converter that plugs into a wall socket and feature battery backup while others are just battery-powered.

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The choice between keypad, biometric or RFID/keypad is a personal one. My way-old biometric unit was fussy about finger placement, but I’m sure they’re much better now. Keypads are nice because you simply have to memorize a combo, and the RFID/keypad vaults give you the choice of an RFID device such as a phone sticker or the keypad. Just as with keys, be sure the RFID device is secure.

Other

Large gun safes, wall safes and the like are not practical for many people due to expense, size, weight and inconvenience. There are small, heavy-duty handgun safes, though. And lockable light-gauge utility cabinets will keep little kids away from your guns. It depends on your situation as to whether the latter would offer sufficient security.

One practical and relatively inexpensive option is the SnapSafe modular safe. It ships as separate panels and a door, which are then assembled wherever they’ll fit in your home. The modularity makes it a great option for those who live in apartments or homes where a large safe wouldn’t be an option. And I can tell you from experience, they’re a heck of a lot easier to relocate than a traditional safe.

There’s also purpose-built concealment furniture—shelving, mirrors and more—that hides your handguns while providing a measure of security. The examples I’ve seen install like standard furniture and operate via a key.

Bottom line: If you own a firearm, it’s your responsibility to secure it to prevent unauthorized use. Surf around and you’ll find dozens of choices to fit any situation and any budget. If you have questions, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has some great resources as well, thanks to its Project ChildSafe program. Visit ProjectChildSafe.org for more.

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