Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Kevin R. Davis
After the police academy, we worked hard and applied ourselves, including during our firearms training, and couldn’t wait for the day when we were sworn in and “hit the streets.” The ultimate symbol of our authority as a police officer is when we’re able to load our pistols as a fully sworn and commissioned member of law enforcement.
Carrying a pistol not only signifies the authority which has been bestowed upon us by the society we’re sworn to protect, but it also comes with a tremendous responsibility. This ultimate authority to employ deadly force in the preservation of peace comes with the public expecting and demanding that we exercise good judgment in the care, deployment (drawing) and actual application of deadly force. To put it bluntly: Don’t do stupid things with your pistol. Don’t draw it and threaten deadly force unless you believe that your life may be in danger and keep it secure. It’s that last part—keep it secure—in which many LEO’s fail to do. And this can lead to catastrophic results.
Guns & Police Work
My first firearms instructor was my late Uncle Richard who was a former marine and veteran of Okinawa and 13 months in the Solomon Islands, as well as a firearms instructor for the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He taught my brother and me to shoot at a young age. Uncle Richard was a hard task master—in life, as well as in self defense—but he had real-life, violent experience and believed it was his mission to pass it on to us.
My uncle stored his firearms in a gun cabinet with a glass front. It was locked, but serious protection for his firearms wasn’t but 40 to 50 years ago, so at the time it was state of the art. Properly teaching his young nephews to keep their hands off unless he was around or he would “bust their a$$” meant that we could ask to handle his firearms only with him present. That said, we knew there were guns secretly within his house for self defense. My Uncle Richard had a number of pistols and revolvers (he favored the Colt 1911 pistols and .44 special revolvers) hidden on shelves and within drawers in close proximity.
Uncle Richard was stern, but he was a very caring man and would have been saddened if his nephews or anyone else had hurt themselves with one of his pistols. Considering the time and what equipment was available, he was a responsible gun owner. But with developments in home gun safes and security boxes, there’s no reason your duty pistol or other firearms need to be unsecured any longer.
Unsecured Guns, Tragedy
Sadly, far too often we hear young children of police officers getting their hands on their police parent’s duty handgun with tragic results. Accidental deaths of themselves, playmates and family members, including the off-duty officer in several cases, have resulted. These incidents and accidents are truly tragic and absolutely preventable.
By the same token, as an officer survival instructor, I want officers who are on or off duty to be ready to defend themselves and their household. How can we balance readiness with responsible gun ownership?
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with two gun security products from Sentry that are specifically designed for LEOs or those interested in home defense: the Home Defense Center (HDC) and Quick Access Pistol Safe (QAPS).
Sentry Home Defense Safes
The HDC, which was present at this year’s SHOT Show, is a gun safe designed to be placed in the corner of a room. The outside dimensions are 11.1" x 12" x 54.4" and with its corner door (part of two sides comprise the door) takes up little room. The outside is an attractive black-treated steel design so that your significant other won’t complain about the “ugly gun safe.” The safe can be bolted to the studs in the corner of the room to reduce theft potential (let’s face it—anything can be stolen with enough time and manpower). The inside of the safe has enough room to secure, for example, my Hans Vang tuned Remington 870, Armalite M15 and Doublestar 1911 pistol, as well as spare magazines and a Surefire flashlight.
The product name “Home Defense” comes from the fact that although your firearms are secure with a quick push of a combination code on the backlit buttons and a push down on the bolt latch lever, I can get instant access to any one of those firearms for home defense. As a working officer, this means walking into the house after a tour of duty and instantly securing your duty pistol, but still having it accessible for home defense in case something bad happens or the ability to easily don your pistol when leaving the house for off-duty concealed carry.
After several weeks of using the HDC, I can find nothing wrong with it. Yes, it won’t fit the 10 rifles you own, but this is an excellent gun safe for a couple of long guns and a couple of pistols.
Sentry Quick-Access Pistol Safe
Sentry also supplied their QAP for testing. This 12" x 9.9" x 3.2" pistol safe features the same electronic back-lit combo code buttons as the HDC. Once you enter your code, a “compression gas strut” or gassed-filled piston opens your safe for quick-and-easy access to your handgun. This safe can be mounted to any flat surface via included lag bolts. Secured around your primary living space, the QAP allows an off-duty officer to disarm once they arrive home and with the push of their code, to instantly respond to armed emergencies.
Both the Home Defense Center and the Quick Access Pistol Safe have key lock back-ups in case batteries die.
Lock Them Up
We have the authority to carry firearms to carry out our duties to protect the public and enforce laws. But with this authority also comes the responsibility to secure them when they’re not in use. That responsibility extends to our own families whose curiosity or fascination can expose them and you to great risk. So many advancements in firearms safety have been developed over the last few years that the question isn’t whether you should have a gun safe, but rather which kind. Sentry has given serious thought to the design of both the Home Defense Center and the Quick Access Pistol Safes. As a 30-plus-year law enforcer, as well as a grandfather of three grandkids, they come highly recommended.
Sentry Gun Safes