Home Security--Protect Your Firearms!
By Chuck Hawks
Let it be clear from the outset that I am no security expert. What follows are my conclusions and suggestions based on observation, ideas and bits of information gleaned here and there over the years, and what I hope is a common sense approach to a problem that all firearms owners face.
The first and perhaps most important passive measure that you can take to safeguard your valuable firearms is to store all guns and ammunition in a gun safe. Install the gun safe in a convenient location, preferably a relatively cool, dry place. (Mine is in my bedroom.)
Most home intruders are not prepared or able to defeat a decent gun safe. A gun safe also demonstrates, in the event of a firearms related lawsuit, that you took all reasonable precautions and went "the extra mile" to secure your guns.
Make sure your gun safe is locked whenever you leave the house. The last thing you want is to surprise an intruder when your return home and discover, too late, that he has gained access to your guns and ammunition!
If it is possible to do so in your state, get a carry permit and make it a point to arrive home armed. If you surprise an intruder you need to be able to control the situation. Otherwise you may simply become a hostage.
Keep a loaded handgun (out of sight of guests but easily accessible) in your domicile. Plus an unloaded shotgun (urban and suburban residents) or rifle (rural residents) back up weapon with appropriate ammunition nearby and ready to be loaded at the first hint of danger. Make sure that you, and everyone living in your home, understand the proper and safe use of these weapons. And make doubly sure that visitors and children too small to safely handle guns do not have access to them.
A medium frame .38 Special +P or .357 Magnum revolver with a 3" to 5" barrel is an excellent choice in a primary handgun. For years I have used a 4" Colt Diamondback as my "house gun." Ammunition with quick opening JHP bullets is usually recommended for both concealed carry and home defense. For apartment and mobile home dwellers, pre-fragmented ammunition such as Glaser Safety Slugs are a good choice and reduce the risk to neighbors.
Mossberg Model 500 Mariner, Persuader, and Cruiser 12 gauge "riot" guns are examples of suitable shotguns. "Riot gun" is an appropriate description of these short barreled shotguns, as that is one of the principle dangers city dwellers may face that might require more firepower than a handgun can provide. Number 1 buckshot is supposed to be good anti-personnel ammunition. Don't buy magnum buckshot loads; they kick too hard, create too much muzzle blast and muzzle flash, and are not necessary.
A Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle is an example of an appropriate home defense rifle for anyone living out in the country. Another good choice is a traditional lever action deer rifle such as a Winchester Model 94 or Marlin 336, which many households already own. Similar rifles worked to defend isolated dwellings against Indian raids on the frontier, and they should be appropriate for defense against modern day marauding savages as well. Regular soft point hunting ammunition should be quite satisfactory.
Store these weapons in your gun safe when you are not home. I keep all of my guns, including my loaded house gun, in my gun safe at all times. I simply make it a point to lock the safe before I leave the house and unlock it when I return.
Install deadbolts and window locks. Reinforce all doors and door jams. The most common method of entry for criminals is to simply break-in a door.
Keep an irregular schedule to the extent possible. Shop, dine out, meet friends, and so forth on different days and nights and at varying times so that your coming and goings appear unpredictable. This is, of course, easier for students, those who work out of their homes, people who work part time, or retired folks.
If you can afford it, install an alarm system with door and window sensors plus pressure pads and motion detectors. The latter must be aimed so that pets will not set them off, and pressure pads must be placed where pets will not step on them or adjusted so that they cannot trigger a false alarm. "Sonic" listening services are especially good for those with pets. Don't just have the security system sound an audible alarm when tripped, have it automatically dial the alarm service or the police.
If you own your own home, by all means fence your yard and keep the gate locked at all times. Why make it easy for an intruder? Install strategically placed floodlights outside. If you hear noises outside at night, it is very convenient to be able to hit a single switch and illuminate your entire property.
Inside your residence it is a good idea to have a switch installed in your bedroom that can be used to turn on all of the lights in the house, or at least one light in every room. This makes it much safer to check things that "go bump in the night," and allows you to accurately aim your shots if it comes to that. A less satisfactory alternative would be a glowing "night light" in every room that will provide enough illumination by which to shoot if your eyes are fully dark adapted, as they would be if you awaken in the middle of the night and don't turn on a light.
If practical, get a trained watchdog (an ordinary mean mutt will not do). The whole point to a good guard dog is training, not viciousness. Keep him under control at all times. He must never be allowed to get loose and roam the neighborhood. A trained dog is reputed to be a deterrent to criminals and is useful as an early warning system. He can also help to protect your house when you are absent, but never rely on a dog. They are easily defeated by those who know how or, for that matter, anyone willing to simply shoot the dog with a (suppressed) .22 pistol.
Copyright 2003 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.