When I was about 10 years old, my next door neighbor, (also 10), and I were busy looking for something to do one sunny afternoon. My friend suddenly remembered that her older brother, who was away in college at the time, had left his high powered hunting rifle under his bed. We decided that it would be fun to spend the afternoon "hunting" in the nearby woods, at the edge of our subdivision.
Our mothers happened to be gone at that exact moment. I don't remember where they were, but we were able to go retrieve the gun, unzip the gun case, remove the rifle, and head out into the woods to do some hunting without anyone noticing what we were doing. We had nothing in particular in mind. Indeed we did not even know exactly how to fire this weapon, and we did not even know if it was actually loaded or not. We headed up into the nearby woods, rifle in hand.
We spent a couple of hours up in the woods, but actually did not fire the gun at all. Thank goodness it never occurred to either one of us to pretend to shoot at each other, and as luck would have it, we did not get hurt. At least not with the gun. But when we headed home, walking calmly along with the rifle in hand, we spotted my mother coming toward us, waving her arms frantically.
We were almost home when my mother found us, after a frantic, hour long search. She and my friends mother had returned home to find the empty gun case lying on the bedroom floor, right where we had left it. They knew we were out with the rifle, but had no idea where we'd gone. By the time my mother found us, she was relieved to see that we were OK. We had no idea what all the fuss was about, as we were too young to even grasp the gravity of the situation.
My mother's relief at finding us alive and uninjured quickly turned into righteous anger. When we got home, she grabbed a belt, took me to my room, and gave me a lesson in gun control that I never forgot. She tanned my hide, and I mean good...shouting the whole time about how dangerous guns are and how close we came to getting ourselves or someone else killed. As it turned out, I came closer to getting killed by my mother than I did with that gun. LOL
I always had a healthy respect for guns from that time on. About sixteen years after the rifle incident, I used a gun to save myself from a rapist who had broken into my house. I heard him coming and was waiting on him, gun in hand, when he tippy-toed into my bedroom, thinking I was asleep. I got the drop on him, pointed that gun right at his face, said a few choice words, and backed him out the door at gunpoint. He never came back, though I did spend a few sleepless nights wondering if he would. That was a moment I would not wish on anyone, but I knew that he was coming for me, and I was very thankful that I had the ability to defend myself close at hand. It may have saved my life, and it certainly saved me from being raped.
I've been thinking about these issues a lot, in the wake of recent events, and it seems to me that homeowners can take a much more active role in controlling access to their guns as a way to avoid many of the accidental shootings that occur each year, and help deter some of the deliberate shooters, such as the Sandy Hook shooter, who apparently had easy access to his mother's guns.
I'd like to see builders offer an option for a locked, and perhaps hidden gun safe, built into the wall of the master bedroom of a new home. An ordinary heavy gun safe such as the kind that they sell at sporting goods stores is relatively inexpensive and virtually impossible to break into.
My neighbor's parents had ignored their son's hunting rifle, which they knew he had left under his bed. They gave no thought to the idea that some of the kids might decide to check it out. If that gun had been stored more securely, we would not have even known it was in the house. I keep thinking, "if only the Sandy Hook shooters' mom had not assumed it was OK to leave weapons accessible to a son whom she already thought was dangerous enough to hide the kitchen knives and such in her car".
From what I've heard in news reports, her younger kids already had an emergency plan to avoid their older brother's tantrums. You'd think it would have crossed her mind to keep those guns securely locked up, even if the kids had been practice shooting with her. The failure to store those guns securely, and control access to them helped facilitate one of the worst school shootings in history. The bottom line is that for gun owners, gun control begins in the home. Home owners who own guns, have a responsibility to insure that those guns are under their control at all times.
Fortunately, there are a number of options for doing this. There are even wireless monitoring devices that can send you an email when your gun safe or case has been opened. It is possible in some cases to add your gun safe to your home security system and have it monitored to trigger an alert anytime someone attempts to access your guns.
Guns are also a high demand item for burglars. Having your guns securely under your control, locked away and monitored by security can deter robbers from targeting your home in an attempt to steal your weapons. That is probably a more likely scenario for the average gun owner. There are also gun locks that can prevent guns from firing. And if you have kids, using this kind of protection should be mandatory. Kids won't need a background check to find a gun lying under the bed. That kind of law won't do much good by itself. Home owners who own guns must take the lead in securing and keeping their own guns under control. Gun owners with children should make sure that they convey to their children the danger that is involved, and instill a healthy respect for guns at an early age.
Here is a forum thread from shotgunworld.com that refers to several companies that can provide gun control and storage options for home owners.
Donna S. Robinson is a real estate investor, author, and entrepreneur located in Atlanta, GA. Follow her on twitter at donnaconsults, and facebook.com/realtybizconsulting.