Why do you need a gun safe?

August 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, Equipment, Self Defense

So you’ve gone out and purchased a gun for home self-defense. 

Fantastic. Understanding that you’ll be your own first responder and doing something to protect yourself is the most adult decision you’ll make in your life. 

Having a gun in your home is great first step, but a gun isn’t a magical self-defense charm. Owning a gun doesn’t protect you: Owning a gun, knowing how to use it and having it available for use if, God forbid, you need to use it protects you and your loved once. If you keep your gun unloaded and in the box it came in, it’s going to be hard to get out and load if it’s needed. This is why quick-access gun safes have become a popular way to keep a gun safe in the home, and it’s something I use myself in my home to keep my self-defense firearm accessible and secure. 

There’s a bunch of people who don’t like this option, though, because they worry about how long it’ll take to access their gun in a safe if they need it, and prefer to keep the gun loaded in a nearby dresser or nightstand drawer. I can understand it, but such concerns leave out an important fact: Things get moved around inside your drawer. 

It’s 3:30 in the morning. You’ve heard a noise downstairs. You’re afraid. You want your gun. It’s in your nightstand drawer. 

Find it. 


Ummn, I think it’s in there somewheres. Hold on, Mr. Burglar while I find it.

Compare this to a quick-access safe. The gun and only the gun is in it and I know the gun will be there when I need it. No searching, no fumbling around and hoping I don’t grab the trigger by accident, just beepbeepbeepbeep and I’ve got my gun ready to go.

my kidsThat’s just one of the reasons why I prefer keeping my gun in a quick-access safe rather than an unlocked drawer. These are two more reasons why I use a safe: My sons. They’re great kids and they’ve been through the Eddie The Eagle gun safety program, I know they know how to be safe around guns because I’ve trained them and watched them do it for myself. 

However, the consequences of them forgetting to leave a gun alone just once are just too great for me to not lock up my guns. Yes, I trust my sons. Yes, I know they know how to stay safe around guns. No, I am not relying 100% on those two facts: I keep my guns in a locked container because I know where they are and I know they are safe, and I recommend a quick access safe to everyone who has a gun and has kids or is concerned about the safety of their guns in their home. 

Play the odds

August 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Equipment, Mindset, Self Defense


Look around the room you’re in right now: Chances are, if you’re in a building that’s been built in the last 30 years, there’s either a smoke detector, fire alarm or a fire extinguisher within a few feet of where you are. This is a good thing, because losing everything in a fire just sucks. Our society recognizes this, and mandates the installation of such things to protect our health and safety. (As an aside, if you have a gun in your home, you probably should have a fire extinguisher as well, because the fire department takes just as long (or longer) to get to your home as the police department does). 

But what are the odds of a fire happening in your home compared to the odds of you being a victim of a violent crime in your home?

The answers may surprise you. 

According to the CDC, in 2009, someone died in a fire every 175 minutes, and someone was injured in a fire every 31 minutes. A scary thought indeed, which is why all those smoke detectors make sense. But if those odds makes you nervous, the chances of you being a victim of a violent crime should freak you right out. 

  • A burglary is committed once every 10 seconds
  • Violent crimes happen once every 20 seconds
  • One of out five homes will experience a break-in 

So why is protecting one’s family and property with a smoke detector something that the government encourages (and even mandates) yet protecting one’s family and property by means of a firearm something that the government discourages (and even bans)? 

You’re not paranoid for wanting to own and carry a gun. You’re just better at math than most people. 

What Is A Safe Room?

April 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Equipment, Mindset, Self Defense

So in my last post I casually mentioned I have a safe room, specifically, 

“I have a Mossberg 500 in my safe room loaded with #4 buckshot, and I have a pistol (usually one of my CCW guns) on or near me at all times. The shotgun is for defense of the safe room, and the pistol is there to move around the house if needed. On my shotgun, I have a shotshell holder with extra buckshot and a few slugs. I figure 13 rounds or so rounds of #4 buckshot, a couple of slugs plus the content of my CCW pistol(s) will be enough to stop most threats outside of a rampaging bungalow or at least enough to hold them off until help arrives.” 

It occurred to me later that new gun owners and people new to the idea of personal self-defense don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “safe room”. Let’s explain it quickly and easily. 

A safe room is to personal protection
what a home fire escape plan is to fire prevention. 

And just like a home fire prevention plan, a safe room and a plan how to use it comes down to what’s important to you and how your home is set up. 

safe room home security planNow there’s probably more than a few people out there saying “Look, this is a bit much. I have a gun in my home so I’m safe, so why do I need to think about this sort of thing?” 

Let me ‘splain. 

At Cub Scouts a few years ago, my son and I were tasked with creating a home fire escape plan in order to earn a merit badge. We wrote out what we’d do in case of fire, how to tell if the fire’s outside your door and how to move through smoke. Good things to learn, but what are the chances of a deadly home fire versus the chances of a deadly home invasion? If you live in the Phoenix area, as I do, you hear stories on the news every week about home invasions. Deadly house fires? Not that often. 

Alright, so how DO you secure your home? Let’s look at a floor plan for a typical home in my area (your mileage may vary). X’s represent potential points of entry for bad guys such as windows or doors, and arrows are possible home invasion routes (1: Front door, 2: Garage, 3: Back door). To secure this house (or any other home) would take three steps. 

1. Secure the exterior
2. Strengthen the interior
3. Prepare a refuge

1. Secure the exterior

You know that old joke about the two hikers running from a bear and the one turns to the other and says “I don’t have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than YOU!”? 

That’s what the outside of your house should look like. You don’t have to live in Fort Knox to be safe, you just have to make your home appear a little more difficult to break into than the home next door. If someone REALLY wants to get into your house, they’re going to to get in, but any casual burglar is going to look for the easy mark and not the bank vault. I know this from experience: My first house was a town home, and the house at the end of our block of houses DIDN’T have a security door while the rest of us did. Guess which one was broken into? You betcha, the one on the end.

Some quick and easy ways to secure the exterior of home are: 

    • Exterior lighting: You don’t need to light home your home like a prison yard to make it safer. I have a simple, cheap decorative yard lighting system in the front that makes my house look really snazzy and it also has a few spotlights in strategeric areas that light up otherwise dark corners. It makes my house look great and it makes burglars consider going to the house down the block which forgot to leave their porch light on.


    • Bushes and shrubs: One of the nice things about living in the southwest is there’s a whole lot of bushes that have pointy bits on them that can be planted beneath accessible windows. Now I’m not saying you should plant jumping cacti under your kid’s bedroom window, but a pyracantha bush looks great and HURTS when you get stuck in one (ask me how I know this…). 


    • Animals: Got a yappy dog? Good. Got a “Beware of the dog” sign? Better. 


  • Signs: I am not a big fan of the “I don’t dial 911, I dial .357!” type of sign: Why advertise to crooks there’s a highly desirable prize for them (a gun) in your home? And just what are you saying to a prosecuting attorney with such a thing on your front lawn? If you’ve got a burglar alarm (more on those later), advertise it. That gives crooks one more reason to move along. 

We’ll talk about burglar alarms next as part of how to…  

2. Strengthen the interior 

Ok, so the bad guy has decided the risk of breaking into your home is worth the potential reward. What can you do to make it harder for him/her? 

    • Get a burglar alarm: No, seriously, get one. Yes, the cops will not show up in time, we know that, that’s why we own a gun. And no, the alarm noise probably won’t scare the burglar off. But who’s watching over your stuff when you’re not around? What happens if there’s a fire when you’re not home? You can’t watch over your house 24/7: Get an alarm, because it gives you more time to get your plan into action, keeping you safer. 



  • Windows: Are they locks on your windows? Are you using them? Why not? 

3. Prepare a refuge 

Okay, so NOW your dog is barking and your alarm is going off and the bad guy is in your home and is not leaving.

This is pretty much a worst-case scenario.

Your job at this point is to get you and your family to a safe place and keep them there until the threat ends and/or help arrives. Your job isn’t to defend your big screen TV: It’s to keep you and your family alive. If the plan for a house fire is to get your family OUT of the house as quickly and safely as possible, the plan for a home invasion or armed burglary most likely be to get your family IN to your safe room as quickly as possible. Just as a good house fire escape plan as two escape routes for every family member planned out in advance, a good home defense plan has a plan and a backup plan in case that first one fails. 

Where should your safe room be? Depends on the home. Remember, time works for you, not him, so your safe room needs to be somewhere you can get to AHEAD of the bad guy. Also consider where you spend the most in your home: if 90% of your time is spent in the kitchen, family room and bedrooms, designating a safe room that’s near to all three of those rooms is a good idea. Let’s go back to that earlier floor plan. The three most likely entry points for a bad guy are, in order, the front door, the garage entrance and the back door. Most of the time spent in this home will be probably be spent in the bedrooms, kitchen/nook and the family room. Given all of this, I’d look at using the master bedroom closet in this house as a safe room because it’s got one entrance to cover which is REALLY easy to defend. The difficulty with this location will be getting getting any family members that are resting in the other bedrooms into the safe room before the bad guys get to them. That’s where a dog and/or an alarm come in handy: They both give you more time to react and get your plan into action and get your family safe. 

What should your safe room look like? Simply put, it should be more secure than any other room in the house. Make sure the door to the safe room locks, and reinforce the door with a heavy-duty striker plate at the very least. Consider putting some decorative bars on the window(s) if allowed by the HOA/landlord/zoning regs. Safely store a loaded firearm in the room and team it up with a first aid kit, flashlight and a charged cell phone (any cell phone, in a service plan or not) can call 911. Realize that “Panic Room” was just a movie: If someone REALLY wants to get into your safe room, they will, and at that point it will be up to YOU to stop the threat. 

Sobering stuff, I know, but it can happen to anyone. If you’ve accepted the fact that your house may catch fire so you have smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher, also realize that your house might be targeted for a violence and plan accordingly. Accidents (and crime) happen: It’s what we do to prepare for them that determines a successful outcome. 

Shotgun or pistol in your home: Which is better?

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under CCW, Equipment, Self Defense, Training

Mossberg 500

I say: Why not use both? 

Let’s look at what each does well and doesn’t do well. 

Pistols are handy to have on you and are good for moving about and performing other tasks where a free hand is needed,  such as opening open doors, leading other people to safety and/or holding a flashlight. But they’re kinda lacking in the firepower department compared to a long gun. 

 A shotgun or a rifle brings A LOT more firepower to the table that a handgun just can’t match, but unless you’ve got an Ithaca Auto & Burglar by your bedside, you’re going to need both hands to work the gun. An AR-15 makes a dandy home defensive firearm, but be warned: They are LOUD in enclosed spaces. If it’s legal to do so where you live, consider buying a suppressor, elsewise, some active hearing protection for you and your loved ones might not be a bad idea if you’re thinking about an AR-15 for home defense. 

cz_p07I have a Mossberg 500 in my safe room loaded with #4 buckshot, and I have a pistol (usually one of my CCW guns) on or near me at all times. The shotgun is for defense of the safe room, and the pistol is there to move around the house if needed. On my shotgun, I have a shotshell holder with extra buckshot and a few slugs. I figure 13 rounds or so rounds of #4 buckshot*, a couple of slugs plus the content of my CCW pistol(s) will be enough to stop most threats outside of a rampaging bungalow or at least enough to hold them off until help arrives. 

I consider both a shotgun and a pistol to be integral parts of my home defense plan, much like I consider a fire extinguisher and a smoke alarm to be parts of my plan for a home fire. Each has its role to play in keeping me and my family safe. My primary plan is to get everyone to the safe rom ASAP and wait there with my shotgun until help arrives. If for some reason I need to move about my house, it’ll be with a pistol and a flashlight if it’s at night. I don’t want to go from room to room clearing my house: I’ll leave the professional tactical work to the professional tactical people. 

Recently however, I noticed a flaw in my thinking. In my safe room, I had the means to stop a threat, but I didn’t have the means to stop bleeding. The nearest first aid kit to my safe room was downstairs in the hall closet. 


Now in my safe room, I have a first aid kit and a bunch of Israeli field dressings and copies of my driver’s licence and CCW permit for easy identification if (God Forbid) I needed them. I keep an old unused cell phone nearby as well, because any working cell phone can call 911, regardless of whether it’s on a current plan or not. 

I keep all this stuff in our safe room because I don’t want to clear my house, going from room to room with catlike stealth: I want to get my family to my safe room ASAP and keep them safe, healthy and secure until help arrives. 

So what’s your preference? Pistol, shotgun, rifle, or some combination of all three? 

* Why #4 instead of 00 buck? I live in the suburbs, and over-penetration through thin drywall into other houses is definitely a concern of mine.