Families + Firearms: Tips From a Private Client Security Advisor

Raymond Long

There are three general types of gun owners: collectors, hunters and individuals interested in defense of their homes

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As a retired member of the Secret Service and a security expert advising private clients and family office directors, I’m sometimes asked for guidance on firearms ownership, storage, training and use. Sometimes the impetus for these questions is a crime wave, like a surge in nearby gang activity, robberies or home invasions. In other cases, my team may be conducting a residential security assessment of a home that includes a firearm or developing a family emergency plan for a homeowner thinking about acquiring a firearm to defend their home and family.

There are three general types of gun owners: (1) collectors and other enthusiasts who enjoy firearms as art or historical pieces; (2) hunters, competition and recreation shooters; and (3) individuals interested in defense of their homes and themselves. Each of these owners tend to think about firearms in different ways. For example, a collector who thinks of rifles as art pieces may not have the same concerns as a homeowner considering the pros and cons of having a firearm in a house with children.

While many believe that firearms represent a key facet of their family’s security plan or system, others don’t know how to approach the topic or seek guidance. Naturally, the Internet is overflowing with information, from basic firearm safety tips to national data statistics. Unfortunately, this has made getting reliable and practical information more difficult, as opinions and cherry-picked data replace useful sources. The following safety advice should be considered before deciding whether to purchase a firearm or allow one within the household.

  1. Make Safety a Habit
    Check your firearm – and then check it again. Like learning to look both ways when crossing the street, firearm safety comes from practice and consistency. Most guides and accredited firearms coaches will drill a handful of basic points into everyone: (1) a firearm is always to be treated as if loaded, (2) the muzzle should always be pointed in a safe direction, and (3) as I mentioned, check twice.

    Individuals may find themselves saved by simply checking again and clearing the chamber, even after sense and routine have told them that it’s safe and unloaded. Even experienced shooters and law enforcement officers who live with guns every day make mistakes, as I learned one day at a police firing range when a colleague cleaning his firearm didn’t realize it was loaded and it went off. No one was harmed, but the example stayed with me. Even with the best practice, accidental discharges do happen. Keeping good habits will help to prevent accidents.
  2. Build a Plan + Prioritize Education
    If you decide to have a firearm in your home, do it right. Establish a safety plan and take a firearms safety course – not on YouTube but with a trained and qualified instructor such as those certified by a top-tier, firearms-related association. Every eligible family member should do the same, and you should have conversations with your family about firearms and the crucial importance of safety. It is also imperative that you.
    • Use the right ammunition.
    • Learn about what to do if your firearm fails to fire when you pull the trigger.
    • Wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
    • Do not alter or modify your firearm unless you are trained to do so.
    • Maintain your firearm regularly.
  3. Secure Your Firearm. Always.
    It should go without saying that a firearm should never be left unattended or unsecured. Gun cabinets are a great way of making sure a firearm is safely stored while still allowing rapid, easy access by you or a designated family member, like your spouse or adult children. A single handgun-sized cabinet can be stowed virtually anywhere you deem practical. A multiple firearm cabinet with biometric access is also a best practice and avoids the risk of a lost or stolen key or compromised personal identification number (PIN).

Know Your Options, Make the Best Choice for Your Family

I’m not going to advise a client to acquire a firearm. That’s a personal decision with strong, well-argued opinions on both sides of the issue. But, if you are going to bring a firearm into your home, it’s in your best interest to follow the guidance of a security expert. Going about it the right way may save a life. Learn more about how Jensen Hughes can help you protect your family.

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About the author

Raymond E. Long
Ray joined Jensen Hughes after a highly successful 25-year career with the U.S. Secret Service Technical Security Division and brings with him significant experience and expertise in conducting security risk and vulnerability assessments, which are invaluable to the service we provide to our clients.

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