This week a school bus monitor in Florida found out that a third grader had something interesting that he brought along with him that morning: a loaded Glock .45. While a potential crisis was averted by calm actions, it still highlights a very important question to all gun owners as to just how secure your firearms are from little hands.
As reported in Thursday's Orlando Sentinel, an 8-year old boy took a loaded Glock .45-caliber handgun with him on the school bus. The reason: he just wanted to show it off to classmates. When the bus's monitor, the school district employee who rides the bus to make sure everything stays cool these days, found a group of kids in the back of the bus whispering and looking into a backpack, she investigated. That is when the gun was discovered and safely removed from the situation.
"We have an 8-year-old who is in the third grade," said Seminole County Chief Lemma. He added that the sheriff's office wants "what is best for the child" and described him as a good student and "remorseful and extremely emotional."
In addition, the youth's father could be looking at a misdemeanor charge for improper storage of a firearm.
Proper gun storage
Now don't get me wrong, all of this is up to the individual gun owner to weigh and balance with his or her own needs, situation and lifestyle. Nevertheless, there are many options out there. Here are a few:
The nuclear option:
While working as the certified instructor and armorer for a large force protection company with federal contracts, the policy that I had to explain each time I issued a gun was very strict. We gave the officer his duty weapon, duty and practice ammunition, and two lock boxes. In one box, they were to put the lower frame of their Glock as well as the boxed ammunition. In the second lock box they were to put the loaded slide/barrel that had been field stripped from the pistol as well as the magazines. Once locked, the two boxes were to be stored in separate locations of their home when not on duty.
This meant that if one box had been compromised, it was still unusable as a weapon to whoever had obtained access. Later a third box was instituted to secure the live ammunition separately. While this was extreme, we never had an issue that involved a lost, stolen, or unauthorized use of a weapon in which this policy was followed over the course of five years with some 200 weapons issued. I've run into similar polices with agencies and departments in the past and present that have worked equally fine.
My personal story
At home, I have two children who now are teenagers but once upon a time were not. They, being social creatures, also have frequent visitors passing through our shared domicile. My brood have been safely shooting since they could form a sentence that didn't include the use of the word 'binky' and own their own firearms. However, I cannot vouch for their friends.
With lots of foot traffic, I made sure that my modest collection of firearms, for the most part,* was unloaded and locked away, much of it out of sight in a safe secured deep inside an interior utility closet obscured by a rack of clothes. Now the *exceptions to this rule that included guns for personal defense and 'work' that, with the exception of being cleaned, were loaded and secured in their own way that I was comfortable with. This included being on my person 16 hours a day and then secured in a nightstand away from general access when not.
Now at the hunting camp that I spend not enough time at, there is usually a loaded and unlocked shotgun over the doorframe and those who accompany me to said camp are well aware of this fact. But that is a different atmosphere, hence different rules.
Of course, while I was growing up my father was a retired marine who had unsecured and very much loaded guns all over the house. Nevertheless, you understood under penalties that were only alluded to that touching said firearms would incur such a wrath that you never wanted to discover. But that was a different atmosphere, hence different rules.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has more information about gun safety as well as how to obtain free gunlocks and it is up to each of us to find our comfort zone with this elephant in the gun closet.
How do you keep your gun safe while still enabling its use if needed? Let us know in the comments below. We are all in this together.