Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Obliquely connected to my martial arts post, one regarding boomware. This concerns the position of a firearm for home defense, and how care must be taken to avoid making it too handy.

Two parts, in regard to safety:

First, if you have children at home and unless they have been thoroughly taught about not touching guns without mama or daddy in attendance, you have to have some form of security for your hardware.

This is not negotiable, and failure to do so is, at least in this state, criminal.

And because junior might have one of his little friends over who doesn't have the Eddie the Eagle training and who might be poking around where they shouldn't be while you are out raking the leaves? Don't leave it where it can be found. Unsecured firearms and children are a recipe for tragedy. When my children grew up and moved out, having a piece in the nightstand drawer wasn't a problem.

When the grandkids got old enough to get mobile on their own and came to visit, I bought a gun safe and put all the shooters that weren't physically in my possession into the box and spun the dial.

At the very least, you need some kind of trigger lock or lockbox for anything a determined snoopy child might find. Better safe here than sorry.

Second part: In that twilight state between sleep and wakefulness you can sometimes do things that aren't smart, especially under sudden stress. In which case, being able to instantly lay your hands on a firearm without much conscious thought could be another fatal act.

I used to know a guy who was a major gun guy, call him Lenny. He slept with a pistol under his pillow. His idea was that if somebody managed to break into his house and get into the bedroom, he'd save three or four seconds coming out with his piece from under the pillow, as opposed to having to open the bedside stand drawer.

This was in the south, and the house Lenny and his wife were living in was an old one that didn't have central air conditioning, but window unit ACs. One hot summer evening in the middle of the night, the window unit in the bedroom, vibrating along, managed to work the screws holding the AC's steel cover loose enough so it fell off. As it did so, it made a terrible clatter.

Lenny, jerked out of sleep by the racket, thought somebody was trying to break in through the window. So he grabbed his cocked-and-locked .45 ACP, yelled "Down!" to his wife, and cranked off two rounds at the window.

Killed his air conditioner deader 'n black plastic.

Which, because the bullets didn't go through the window or the wall to kill one of his sleeping neighbors, was, in retrospect, a good thing. And a funny story to tell later.

Now, if Lenny had kept his piece in a lockbox, which typically has a series of buttons that have to be pushed in sequence to open it, he would have had time to realize that nobody was breaking in. Even with the gun in some lesser-ready condition -- magazine out, or nothing in the chamber, requiring that he take a second or two to make it ready to fire, that would have helped.

If the pistol had been buried under the socks and he had to open the drawer and dig around, that might have been enough.

An unloaded gun with a box of ammo in a different drawer, or one you have to go padding down the hall to the gun safe to collect isn't going to do much good for home defense if you need it right now. However, Davy Crockett's dictum: "Be sure you're right, then go ahead." might save you some real grief.

Your air conditioner will thank you.


Justin said...

Great post, Steve.
I'm by no means a gun guy, and my wife put her foot down about us not owning a gun (luckily in doing so she didn't step on any of my nunchuks, sai, kali sticks, etc. littering our apartment). However, I still found your piece very educational.

I honestly thought "Lenny's" tale was going to end a lot worse -- like his wife got up to open the window and he shot her or something. Glad that wasn't the case.

Dave Huss said...

My personal choice for home defence is my Remington 870. Unloaded it takes a second and a half to shove three in the tube mag and rack it. Several advantages, racking a pump shotgun is one of the more universally recognised sounds around the globe. No need to warn the intruder that you have a gun, they already know. If you have to crank one off, it is not so hard to aim, which is a plus for those just woke up and in the dark. Pretty hard to accidently shoot your self with it too.
Never have been with the shot-in-the-dark crowd. My terrier gives me plenty of warning. Does your corgi's wake you up? Even with my hearing aids out and a fan running, the dog lets me know if anyone is near. Works cheap too.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, dog alerts are our early warning system, though most of those turn out to be possums or raccoons in the yard.

And a shotgun is what I tell folks would be my first choice for home defense if I had but one.( And didn't fancy myself a pistoleer.) Birdshot is all you need, and it isn't as likely to go through a couple walls and take out the neighbors.