Gun locks–sometimes called “trigger locks”–are devices attached to your gun’s trigger that keep the gun from firing. Their intention is to protect children from firing guns accidentally, and they’re quite popular. In the United States, the President distributed over 20 million gun locks to households all over the country as part of Project Gunsafe, a new project meant to lessen the danger of guns in households with young children. It sounds like a good program–but this is undoubtedly a case of good intentions gone awry. Gun locks are simply not good protection for your guns, and they may do more harm than good. Here’s why.
Accidental gun deaths are more rare than most people think. There are a lot of heartbreaking ads out there that show kids talking about the time they were playing with Daddy’s gun and accidentally shot someone. These tragic occurrences do happen from time to time, and when they do, they’re widely publicized. Much more well-publicized than more common tragedies–hundreds more children die every year in car accidents, residential fires, and even in bathtubs than as a result of accidental gun firings. In fact, between 1995 and 1999 in the U.S., only about nine children were reported to have died this way.
Adults are more likely to fire a gun accidentally. Accidental gun firings are much more common among adults. Alcohol, drugs, and other substance abuse problems are often at the root of these occurrences. The problem here is that gun locks aren’t designed to stop adults–and they offer little protection from a grown man or woman who wants to use the gun.
They keep you from getting to your gun quickly. In cases of home invasion, police almost always get there after a crime has been committed. If you’re in an isolated area or can’t call the police right away, you’re on your own if someone breaks in. If your home is broken into, you may not have time to get the gun lock off your gun the moment you need to. Some gun locks require the gun to be unloaded before it can be put on. If you have one of these, you may not have time to load your gun when you need it right away.
A burglar can see your gun is useless. Even if it’s not loaded, a gun can protect you from coming to harm during a robbery–often, just holding up the gun is enough to deter criminals. However, a gun lock ruins the effect. Most criminals know what they are and that they take a few minutes to undo–a few minutes you just don’t have. If they see a gun lock on your gun, they’ll know you’re not protected, and that could put you in a very dangerous situation.
They don’t protect against theft. Any thief can pick up a gun with a gun lock, take it home, and break open the lock. In fact, gun locks make it easier for thieves to do their job. If you have a gun lock on your gun, you’re more likely to feel safe leaving the gun around or not protecting it with a safe–making it much more accessible to anyone who wants to steal it.
They give you a false sense of security. A gun lock can make you think your gun is safe–and it’s true that they can provide some safety to children who might get their hands on them. But a gun safe is a much better option for protecting your firearms. The problem with a gun lock is that it makes many people think they don’t need a gun safe, or don’t need to be as careful with their guns–which isn’t the case.
Gun locks do protect against accidental firings by children. But you can do a better job of protecting your firearms by using a good gun safe. With a gun safe, not only will kids be kept from seeing the guns–let alone firing them–but you’ll also keep your firearms safe from burglars. Many gun safes come with glow-in-the-dark keypad combination locks that you can open in seconds if you need to get to your gun quickly–you can even keep it loaded in the safe. Invest in a strong gun safe with thick walls all the way around and a well-protected lock house, and bolt it to the floor so thieves can’t carry it off. That’s far better protection for you, your kids, and your property.