A Guide to Picking The Best Gun Safe for Families
This article isn’t sponsored by any company or organization. It comes from a father who wants parents know how to keep kids safe from a fatal accident.
Congratulations on purchasing a firearm. Or well done on starting research into buying one. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility. It is not one to be taken lightly, especially being a parent with children living at home. As a parent you know that your kids can get into all sorts of trouble when you’re not looking. Because of that you need to make sure that all firearms are secure and out of their hands. The styles and types of safes on the market today are numerous and it can be daunting to pick the one that is right for you.
Here are the questions parents need to answer when comes to selecting a gun safe.
What does a safe do?
When it comes to having a firearm in controlling access to it is essential. Children and bad guys shouldn’t be able to get to it. That’s where the safe, or vault, comes in. A safe can hold one gun while other models hold a dozen or more. There’s plenty of options to fit a variety of needs. But simply stated a safe controls access. The only people who can get inside it need to be the ones that know how to safely use a firearm. Children should never be able to access a gun. Ever.
What are you storing?
When selecting a safe, or vault, for a firearm you need to take into account what you are securing and what future plans for ownership include. If owning a single handgun for home defense is needed, then a quick access handgun vault is a great fit.
For hunting rifles and shotguns a more traditional large safe needs to considered. Storing long guns in the closet isn’t going to cut it with kids in the house. If planning to expand a collection, then pick a safe that’s going to be able to accommodate future purchases.
Also gun safes can be used to store more than guns. Important paperwork, jewelry and family heirlooms can also be kept in a gun safe. Consider everything that might need to be stored before making a purchase.
How do you access the firearm?
Controlling access is the essential function of a safe. There are numerous ways in which a safe can be accessed.
Keys – Many safes and gun vaults on the market use keys or have back up keys in case the primary battery powered lock fails. Keys are great at controlling access, but they’re not the safest choice when it comes to a home with children. Kids like to explore and open drawers that don’t belong to them. If a key to a gun vault is kept in the bedside table drawer and the vault is kept under the bed, it won’t take long for a child to understand the shiny key they found goes into that cool looking box under the bed. Keys for safes must be kept out of the reach of small hands. Keys are not bad option, but considerable thought must be given to where the key is stored.
Combination – Most of us think of a combination lock on a safe. We picture a huge safe with a large spinning wheel, or locking dial. There are plenty of these on the market. This lock style is slower to open and shouldn’t be considered for emergency access. But as long as children are not around with the combination is being put in, this is a good option to consider.
Fingerprint – Many new gun vaults are secured by fingerprint technology. This is a fast way to access a firearm. Since no two fingerprints are alike your finger is the key and you always have it with you. Note that these vaults run on power from the wall or by internal battery. Batteries would need to be replaced often, once a month or so, to make sure the safe is ready to use. These vaults do have a backup key. Remember that kids like to find shiny keys? All back up keys should be kept out of the reach of children.
Electronic Keypad – Modern safes and vaults have electronic keypads that allow access. Keypads range from 4 to 10 number pads with 4 to 10 digit codes. Some keypads do not have numbers. Instead are shaped like the outline of a hand for quick placement in a stressful situation. These are great for fast access as a user doesn’t have to search for a key in an emergency. As with a locking dial safe, children should not be present when the codes are being entered. Note that these vaults also run on power from the wall or by internal battery and have back up keys.
RFID – Many fast access vaults run on RFID technology. This means that special fobs, stickers, cards and bracelets can be used open a safe quickly. You may enter your workplace with a swipe card or fob using the same technology. While these are very cool, the RFID devices like a key fob must be treated like a key. Children do not need to have access to them. Also these safes run on power and have backup keys.
Simplex Mechanical Pushbutton Locks – You’ve most likely seen this type of lock on a door in your office or gym. These can be used for gun safes as well. These locks typically have 5 buttons and combination can range from 1 to 5 digits. These types of locks can be opened quickly and do not require power or backup keys. Only the combination can open it, making it a very good option to consider.
Where to keep it?
Placing a safe in a home is an essential part of the safe purchase process. Consider what the guns are being used for and that will help decide where a safe might need to go. If you are a hunter and only need them for planned trips, then placing a large safe in a closet or basement might be a good choice. Keeping a safe in a garage is not recommended as temperature and humidity will be hard to control. Plus the safe would be visible from the street when the garage door was open. Don’t let the bad guys know there are guns in your home so 1) They won’t break in and steal them and 2) they can’t plan around you having a firearm. Keep the location of your safe private.
When owning a firearm for home and self defense consider a bedside safe. These “speed safes” or “fast access vaults” are made with quick access in mind. They are kept close to where people live and sleep. Obviously hiding this style of safe becomes harder since it needs to be readily available. Under the bed or behind a bedside table may be an option. When installing a new, smaller safe be sure to secure it in place. When a robber sees the safe, he won’t take the valuable time to pry it open then – he’ll simply carry it out and do it later. Secure smaller safes by bolting them to the floor or securing them with cables and locks.
Lastly there is another option for safe gun storage and that is Tactical Walls. This company specializes in creating furniture and shelving that stores and hids firearms in plain view. A popular product they offer is a shelf that folds down to reveal storage for handguns and long guns. These are limited in capacity, but make up for it in functionality. This is not an official endorsement of Tactical Walls, but they are pretty cool.
What else do I need to know?
Some countries like Canada and some states like California have compliance guidelines about firearm storage. Make sure you are aware of these guidelines where you live. Also be sure to read the manual for the safe before it’s first use. I would also recommend that the safe be purchased and in place before purchasing a first firearm. Make sure you answer these questions before you buy a gun safe. Storing a firearm safely is vital to home security and family safety.
About the Author
Andy Murphy’s blog, www.thesecuredad.com is dedicated to family protection, home security and of course fatherhood. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more ways to keep your family secure.
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