One of the most difficult issues we address in our various Personal Safety workshops is how to correctly store your self-defense weapons. Regardless of the device, the ultimate objective is to ensure that unauthorized individuals do not gain access to your devices. Whether the course is on stun guns, pepper spray, Tasers or handguns, the objective is always the same.
At the same time, you have the self-defense weapons to protect yourself. If they’re stored in such a way that it is too difficult to retrieve the item in a timely manner, there’s really no use in having the weapon at all. That’s just unacceptable.
Where the difficulty begins is with the, “How to do it?” The answer is, “It depends.” Your lifestyle will drive your options.
In The Home
If you are single and have no children around the home, the techniques you use will be significantly different from someone who has 4 elementary school-aged kids in the house. You want to have rapid access to whatever device you have stored, but not so easily accessible that anyone else (your children and their friends) can gain access.
For instance, my wife and I live alone, and we have no likelihood of children being in our home (No grandkids. Yet.). Our quick-access guns are hidden from plain site, but they are not in locked safes. The guns go into safes whenever we have a party or when we know children are likely to be present during a visit.
You will generally need to make compromises somewhere – rapid access versus secured location.
One option many people employ – regardless of the device they are storing – are small, firearms safes. These safes are light-weight and secure. You can open them either with a rapid-access combination lock or a key. When placed high enough be be out of reach of children, they can provide a viable option for most households.
One caveat: PLEASE don’t get one of the battery operated safes, or (especially) one of the biometric safes. Use a safe with mechanical push-buttons. Why? Batteries die. What a horrible feeling it would be to go get your gun, pepper spray or Taser for self-defense, and you are unable to open your safe because the batteries were dead.
With the biometric safes, you have an additional problem: Readability of your fingerprints. Your fingertips may be covered in blood or sweat, and the reader won’t recognize them.
For some reason – probably lack of market demand – the mechanical lock safes are more expensive. Don’t pinch pennies when you’re life is what you’re protecting.
It will really come down to knowing who is often in your home. If you have a little 5 year old who is very curious, you need to be especially vigilant in your safety precautions. If you have teenagers who always have their friends over to your home, you need to employ different strategies.
Outside The Home
In a number of states – such as California, New York, Massachusetts – when residents are outside the home, they generally will only have access to non-lethal devices such as pepper spray, Tasers and stun guns. Just like with handguns, when you leave your home, you are still responsible for ensuring the devices don’t fall into the wrong hands.
If you keep your self-defense weapon in your purse, on a keyring, in a backpack or a briefcase – basically any “off body” location – you need to keep close watch on and control over who has access to those items. There was the incident not long ago where a mother (with a valid CCW permit) had her gun in her purse, her child reached into the purse, pulled the trigger and killed the mother.
In a less dramatic example, a very good friend of mine is a teacher. He keeps his pepper spray on a keyring which he keeps in his backpack. He needed something from his car, and had one of his best students run out and grab what he needed.
The student saw the pepper spray on the keyring and got curious. Outside, he sprayed it in the air and “sniffed” it to see what it was like. Thankfully, the dose the student got was only enough to make his nose and mouth burn a bit, but it could have been much worse.
In this case, the pepper spray could have been placed on a detachable keyring, and removed before the keys were given to the student. Think about ways to lessen the probability of an unfortunate – and preventable – situation.
Final thoughts: YOU are ultimately responsible for safely securing your self-defense weapon – whether it is on your person, in your home or in your automobile. If someone is harmed by the unauthorized use of your device, AND you should have reasonably known someone – typically a child – could gain access to the device, you may end up on the wrong side of the law.
You have every right, and also the responsibility, to protect yourself and your family. Just remember that you also have the responsibility to safeguard against unauthorized use of your devices.
Don’t use this responsibility to safeguard as an excuse to not provide for your personal safety. Instead, educate yourself on how you can meet the two objectives of personal safety AND safe storage.