A stolen firearm is every gun owner’s worst nightmare. If you don’t have insurance on it, you’ll be out whatever the gun was worth. Even if you do, it’s still a huge inconvenience, and you could be looking at potential legal problems if your gun gets used in a crime and you didn’t notice it was stolen.
Unfortunately, gun theft from both homes and vehicles has been getting more and more common. In 2016, there were over 237,000 reports of stolen guns, which is 68 percent higher than the number of reported stolen guns in 2005. And quite often those stolen guns end up used in violent crimes.
As a responsible gun owner, it’s important that you take steps to protect your weapons. Although you can’t eliminate the possibility of a gun theft, you can drastically reduce it. Here are a few ways to lower your gun theft risk.
If You’re Going to Carry, Get a Retention Holster
It’s more likely that a criminal will strike when your gun is in your vehicle or at home, but someone who’s particularly bold could try snatching it while you have it on you.
If you plan to carry a handgun around, make sure you get a comfortable retention holster for it. These make it much harder for anyone besides you to draw the weapon.
As Tactical-Life points out,
“Retention-type duty holsters have become the overwhelming choice for uniformed patrol officers. In the late 1960s, ‘security’ models began to appear on the scene to help officers maintain control of their holstered sidearms in the event of a disarm attempt. Retention holsters incorporate one or more layers of security that must be disengaged before the user can draw the handgun.”
It’s also a good idea to get your concealed carry permit and stick with that instead of open carrying your gun. You want to avoid potential thieves knowing that you have a firearm.
Secure Your Guns as Much as Possible When on the Road
The first consideration when you transport your guns anywhere is where you can legally store them in your state, as certain states restrict this, depending on the type of gun. You also need to think about where the most secure area is, especially if you’ll be making any stops along the way.
Ideally, try to go straight to your destination when you have guns in the car. If you’re going to the shooting range, go straight there and home without stopping at the store or anywhere else.
The best locations in a car to store your guns are either in the trunk, under the seat or in the glovebox, provided you lock the glovebox.
When you have guns in the trunk, keep them concealed, as well. Most criminals who break into cars are looking for quick, easy targets for a smash and grab.
Protecting Your Guns at Home
For keeping your guns secure while you store them in your home, the best option is undoubtedly a reliable and secure safe or cabinet. There are gun safes available at every size and price point, and you can get one that opens through biometrics, a security code or a key.
From a security standpoint, I feel that a heavier safe that opens through either biometrics or a security code is the way to go. With a lighter safe, you risk a criminal simply taking it with them and trying to find a way to crack it later, unless you can bolt it down to secure it. It’s far more difficult to carry a heavy safe full of guns out of your home, especially for a criminal who’s trying to remain inconspicuous.
With biometrics or a security code, you don’t need to worry about anyone else gaining access to your safe unless they break into it. When you get a safe with a key, there’s the possibility of a criminal finding the key and using it to steal all your guns.
Try to set your safe up somewhere hidden to make it more difficult for a burglar to find. Once a criminal sees a safe, they often focus on that since they know it’s likely to contain valuables. For home-defense situations, you may want to have a separate handgun safe near your bed that you can access quickly when you need it.
Preventing Thefts from Your Home
It stands to reason that if you make your home a more difficult target, you’re less likely to experience a break-in or a gun theft. A home security system is a smart investment to protect your home and everything in it.
The typical home security system will require a code to be entered any time someone comes into your home. If an intruder breaks in, the home security company will notify the police, ensuring that person doesn’t have much time to steal anything. Combine a home security system with a gun safe, and it won’t be easy for criminals to get near your guns.
Preparing for a Gun Theft
You always need to be ready for a worst-case scenario, including one or more of your guns getting stolen. There are a couple steps you can take to mitigate the damage when this happens.
Record the serial numbers on all your firearms as soon as you get them. It’s even better if you take a picture of the gun with its serial number visible. Without a serial number, you’ll never be able to recover your gun. Criminals often end up ditching stolen guns at some point, and having the serial number on all your guns gives you at least a chance of recovering them in the event of a theft.
You should also insure all your guns. You can do this through a homeowner’s insurance or a renter’s insurance policy, just make sure you verify with the insurance carrier that the policy will include coverage for your firearms. Insurance carriers will almost always allow you to insure firearms for a specific amount without specifying what firearms you have to them.
Gun thefts may be increasing, but many of them occur because of the gun owner’s irresponsible behavior. There are plenty of gun owners who haphazardly store their firearms in a drawer at home or in their car’s center console. If you’re smart about where you keep your guns, you can stop most criminals from getting near your guns.