Besides carrying a weapon when we’re out and about, our home is the primary concern for self-defense. We feel safer at home than anywhere else. Having a safe place to crash is a good thing, but our home can also give us a false sense of safety. This feeling of safety causes us to drop our guard and not be ready to defend our castle. It’s not uncommon for someone to sleep with a gun close to their bed in case someone breaks in during the night. But it seems like home defense always stops right there. What about the evening when you’re sitting at the kitchen table or in the living room. What if you’re in the shower when someone kicks in your back door?
I never gave home defense much thought beyond the bedside gun. But this changed when my agency worked a case where an elderly couple were shot and killed in their home. It was in the evening and the husband was in a recliner watching tv, and the wife was in the kitchen making coffee. There were plenty of guns in the home, but they were all in a closet in a different room. They felt perfectly safe in their home, and they were not ready for the unthinkable. I am friends with a federal agent that said after he saw how many home invasions take place at all hours of the day, he wears a gun inside his home until he goes to bed. In bed, he has a gun within reach too. So how far should you go to protect your home?
Home Safety vs Gun Safety
The first thing you must consider when determining how to protect your home is the level of gun safety you need to provide. If you have small kids running around the house, your plan may be different than someone who doesn’t have kids in the home. If you plan on placing guns around the home so they are more accessible, it needs to be done in a safe way. The more accessible they are, the quicker the defense. But more accessibility often means it’s easier for a child or visitor to get access as well. So, keep this in mind when formulating a plan for your home. Gun safes are available that open quickly with a fingerprint or some type of RFID chip.
After giving it some thought, I decided I wanted a weapon in just about every main area of my home. If someone kicks in my door and I’m watching tv, a gun in my bedroom makes it hard to defend my home. It was harder than expected to find ways to make guns accessible from multiple areas of my home while keeping them secure at the same time. But it’s not impossible and there are several options to hide or secure a firearm in different areas of a home.
How much time do you need to reach a gun?
When determining where a gun should be in my home, I decided three seconds was a reasonable timeframe for grabbing a gun. I could push this timeframe back to five seconds for the basement or second floor. Any longer than this and someone would have time to stop me from getting to it. Using these timelines, I went to each room to evaluate. In the living room, I sat down on the couch and looked around. If my door were kicked open, what would I do? My living room is in the middle of the home so an intruder could come from either side.
This means I need a gun close enough to grab while sitting down. If I put a gun anywhere else, it takes more than three seconds to get up and get to it. The living room is the most likely area of the home for visitors and children as well. Because of this, I used a quick-access gun safe with an RFID chip. I’m not a fan of gun safes that require codes to open because people can’t remember codes during emergencies. Remember, simple things in everyday life become hard to accomplish when your adrenaline spikes and your heart rate goes through the roof. An RFID chip on a bracelet, ring, or keychain makes it easy to open the gun safe quickly. I’ll discuss gun safes in more detail below.
What places in homes need guns?
Again, we all know our bedroom is a good place for a gun. Just about everyone I know keeps a gun near their nightstand or a shotgun within reach of their bed. But walk through your home and identify other places you could be for even a few minutes including the kitchen, bathroom, shower, home office, basement, garage, etc. From each room think about your plan of action should an intruder come barreling in. Will you yell “time out” because your gun is in your bedroom or the gun safe in the basement? I assure you; burglars don’t play the time-out game.
Look for a place to safely store a gun. Many areas of the home have hiding places, some do not. My living room does not have many places to hide so a gun safe is the best option for me. Other rooms may have good places to hide guns where they can still be accessed quickly. Gun magnets, like the Caldwell Lockdown Magnet, are great for hiding guns in places no one else would look. The bottom of shelves, in cabinets, under desks, or behind pieces of furniture work great with this magnet. It has a rubber coating, so it won’t scratch your gun but it’s strong enough to hold your gun up.
Generally speaking, I view gun safes as a place to store guns, so they don’t get stolen. Many safes take too long to access during a home invasion. But manufacturers are aware of this and make safes just for home defense. Hornady has a great line of RAPID safes that open by key, passcode, and RFID chip. They make one for pistols and a wall mount version for a shotgun. Each safe comes with an RFID bracelet and key chain for quick access. You can use the same RFID on each safe. This means you could wear a bracelet at home and swipe your wrist across any Hornady RAPID gun-safe to open it.
Other gun safes are designed for holding a handgun for home defense and open with a key or by entering a combination. If the gun is being stored somewhere further away from entry points in your home, this may be a good option. If you are on the second floor, you may have a few more seconds to open a safe as compared to the first floor. Just keep in mind that time is of the essence.
Gun safety should always be the priority regardless of the mission. If you choose to place a gun in an area of your home that is not secure, be aware of the risks. I have a few places where I keep guns hidden, and out of a child’s reach. But this decision should not be taken lightly. If the wrong person (like a child) finds it, someone could be injured, and you could be held liable. My grandfather kept a loaded shotgun in the corner of his bedroom by the bed. He also kept a loaded revolver in the kitchen cabinet. That was normal back then for many people. Today, times are just different. I would urge great caution when deciding where to keep a loaded gun. But I would also urge the same caution with not having some type of weapon ready for self-defense anywhere in your home. Criminals don’t care what time of the day it is or where you are in the house. We must be always ready. Safe, but ready.