“ALWAYS Keep a Firearm Unloaded until Ready-to-Use”

Recently a conversation arose and I was asked by a friend. “I thought one of the “first rules” was that a gun should always be kept unloaded in the home (ammo perhaps right next to it, but unloaded)”

The following is my answer to both my friend and to my readers.

They were right, the NRA third safety rule states that you keep a gun unloaded until ready to use it.

3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

That is the fulcrum. But the real question is what does “ready to use” mean. Many instructors will point out that a self defense firearm in essence needs to be ready to be used.

To place some hyperbole; let’s look at that rule when applied to firearm carried on one’s person. One would not draw their firearm, load it & chamber it. All while a bad guy is bearing down. In this situation ready-to-use is loaded.

So ready-to-use blurs a little when applied to self-defense at any notice. All non-self defense weapons should always be unloaded – until ready to use. All self-defense weapons should be unloaded until ready to use. However, you should always be ready to use a self-defense weapon (unless you have the means to prophesy when you will need to use such a weapon). In which case, why would you be at place x at time y if you knew there was a threat. That’d just be foolish. Sadly, we do not know when someone is going to mug us on the street or break into our home to rape, steal and murder – one must always be on guard.

Now mind you everyone’s situation is unique. What works for me may not work for you. Where you live makes a big difference. Living in a bad neighborhood with frequent break-ins may constitute more readiness. Children may also apply a varying factor.

My personal policy is this: choose the highest level of  readiness that you are able to implement safely.

If it were just yourself or other adults that are trained to use firearms, than keeping self-defense arms loaded and easily accessible makes the most sense. One might have to make allowances for small children, choosing to keep their firearms unloaded at night but easily accessible. However, if one chooses such an option than one must make sure they practice and are able to quickly grab and load their firearm. One must also be aware that they will be behind the 8-ball in the readiness curve.

One way to practice this regularly is to carry your firearm daily. This necessitates loading your firearm when you put it on.  Thus building skills of loading a magazine and chambering a round through daily repetition.  Keep your firearm and your magazine in the same locations. Even in the dark your hands should know where each are and how to mate the two together – properly and quickly.

Most instructors I’ve dealt with strongly advocate keeping the firearm on your person as the safest solution. No children, strangers, etc are going to unwittingly find your gun and hurt themselves if it is on your person.  A lot also depends on the people in your house. If you have very small children (infants and toddlers) you may be able to keep a loaded firearm by securing it in a high location.  However, when your children are somewhat older that will not be acceptable – as children will find a way to anywhere. One might invest in a safe, lock or other firearm storage. What one does also depends on the nature of one’s children. A well trained child that is responsible may be able to be given their own .22LR or pellet gun at a young age. Meanwhile, a 21 yr old irresponsible son may require that you keep your firearms locked up.

I’ll be frank my methods are a compromise on my readiness. In part due to the fact that we rent and therefore I am not able to modify my home as I would like, nor in a position to afford too.  My future hope is to train my children to be knowledgeable and safe with firearms. So that they too will be able to protect themselves.  But I will always have checks and balances because even if I train my children I will never be able to gaurantee that their friends have been properly raised.  That’s my personal choice.

Many are comfortable with a so-called “cocked and locked” weapon. Glock fans will chime in that they don’t even have theirs locked.  Such is the pinnacle state of readiness.  It is not wrong, so long as one is aware of what such readiness means and has implemented an environment of safety. Likewise, for those who choose not to be in quite such a ready state (unloaded gun or locked gun) due to specific circumstances. Such a decision is not wrong, so long as the owner is aware of the fact that such reduces their readiness, and trains to compensate for such lowered readiness. The last thing you want is to be fumbling in the dark trying to find a magazine to load into your handgun in the presence of a criminal.

It is not even stupid to not own a firearm (though I think most families should). So long as you are aware of, and comfortable with, the ramifications of the decision. To not own a firearm because of ignorance or false facts is a shame (such as the highly touted statement that “if you own a gun it is more likely to be used against you” – absolutely not true).  Those are foolish reasons to not own a firearm. However, if one says “I am content in my life or afterlife and I choose not to save my life at the expense of another’s life.” Such is not a foolish reason to not own a firearm. But I will chime in that it may not (and often is not) your life that you protect with a firearm. Rather it may be the life of a loved one or other innocent.

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Published in: on December 11, 2009 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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