There’s been a lot of discussion in the media lately about semiautomatic pistol magazine capacity, gun ownership and carry, and firearms in general. Much of it has been prompted by the tragic and senseless shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords this past January.
Tons of ink has been used and several forests wasted reporting on bills and legislation that have been proposed limiting the number of rounds a magazine can hold, micro-stamping spent casings as they’re ejected from semiautomatic pistols, “gun free” zones and “shall issue” vs. “may issue” carry permit laws, etc. But, lost in that discussion has been the fact that there are millions of responsible gun owners, police officers included, who use, own and store firearms responsibly.
Politics aside, I’m sure every cop understands that inherent in his or her pinning on a badge is the responsibility to secure and store their duty gun (as well as their off-duty piece) safely and securely. The public and the press are hot on the issue of firearms security in the home, and police officers aren’t exempt or immune from the scrutiny of the media. God forbid a cop’s child (or any child for that matter) is ever seriously injured or killed with an officer’s gun.
Many years ago, one of my friends, a firearms instructor from New York, conducted a little experiment to prove a point. The setting was an academy instructors’ barbeque at the conclusion of a recruit school class. We were all celebrating a great recruit class graduation, if fact, one of the better classes that had gone through the academy in a long time. More distinguished-expert and master pins were earned by that group than in any previous class, a practice that I’ve learned has gone the way of service revolvers for reasons of agency liability. But, that’s a topic for another time.
The main focus of discussion was guns and eventually a debate began among our small group of firearms trainers on the issue of guns in the home and whether cops’ kids respond differently than other kids upon seeing guns in the house. The “out of sight, out of mind” controversy was thrown back and forth and all the standard clichés discussed. The dialogue had been along the lines of “my kids have been raised around guns and they know not to touch dad’s (or mom’s) guns.” Others sounded the theme of “my kids know where my guns are and they know not to touch them; so there’s no need to lock my guns up.” Just for grins, one of the trainers asked permission to stage a little experiment. He asked my bud for his off-duty piece. He unloaded it, showed it to each of us and the other surrounding adults and placed it on a picnic table where a close to where a group of kids were playing some sort of “cops and robbers” game, another practice that has also disappeared due to political correctness gone amuck.
Within 10 minutes, one of the kids, a civilian’s son, ran over next to the picnic table with my bud’s kid. He spotted the Smith Model 36 and began discussing the find. However, neither picked the firearm up—yet. A discussion then ensued between the two. My buddy’s kid blurted out “That’s my dad’s gun. We never touch dad’s guns.” My buddy’s chest puffed out upon hearing this and he got that “See, I told you so” look on his face. The other kid looked at it for a second, and in the flash of an eye, picked it up, pointed at two other kids who had just run by, pulled the trigger twice, and yelled “bang, bang, you’re dead.”
It dramatically proved a point. It’s not enough that you gun-proof your own kids, but when you own (or are issued) a firearm, you also have to gun-proof every youngster who may ever visit your house, as well.
It’s an awesome responsibility—and not just to your own children, or your neighbor’s kids, but to the entire community you serve. We’re expected to be the experts on guns, safe firearms handling and storage.
Some cops feel very strongly about the issue of gun safety in the home—to the point of never keeping a firearm in the house. I remember one cop I worked with who religiously took off his Sam Browne and gun and locked them away when he went off duty. He didn’t own an off-duty piece. On the other side are the cops who are adamant that the gun is not something that’s taboo where it’s always hidden from sight. Their gun belt is hung over a hook in the closet. Still others take the middle-of-road approach that “its mom’s [or dad’s] equipment and off-limits to everybody but mom [or dad]. The kids know where it is, but will never touch it or show it to anybody.”
This article isn’t meant to try to persuade or dissuade any reader on how they should educate and/or orient their little ones to mom’s [or dad’s] new piece of equipment. But, one area where there should be no debate is on the issue that you, as a cop, have the responsibility to gun-proof your household if you keep a gun on the premises.
And we’ll talk about some real simple and mostly inexpensive ways you can go about doing that in Part 2. Stay tuned.