None of us like the idea of criminals having guns. This is especially true since so many of those guns are obtained through illegal means, often theft from a law-abiding gun owner. It could easily be one of us, and we all know it.

Yet there’s not much legislation can do to prevent that either. After all, there are already plenty of laws against stealing, yet people continue to do it. What else can be done?

Some locales have decided to mandate all guns be locked up, at least in part to discourage their theft. Yet that often creates a bit of an unfunded mandate. While new guys may come with locks, used firearms often don’t which puts the onus on people to also get locks for their guns. Further, a locked gun isn’t much of a deterrent since a criminal could easily figure that he can cut the lock at his leisure at a later time.

No, the best security for a firearm is a gun safe. They’re large, hard to sneak out, and a lot harder to get into.

Over at The Truth About Guns, the question of the day yesterday touched a bit on this as a possible solution to firearm theft.

While not a perfect solution, the wide spread use of gun safes would reduce the total number of guns stolen in the US. Making it more difficult to steal firearms should result in fewer firearms stolen.

The question is, how do we encourage their use? The answer: the same way government encourages anything else…tax incentives. If the government wants you to buy an electric car or solar panels for your home, they offer a tax credit. Assuming less gun crime is the goal, offering gun owners a tax credit should result in gun owners buying more gun safes. It’s simple economics.

I’ll be honest, I found the idea intriguing. There’s no mandate, so people are still free to handle their guns as they want, but there are serious advantages to owning a gun safe. Most folks I know who don’t have one cite expense as a major factor. A tax credit would offset much of that and encourage more gun owners to have the means to safely and securely lock their weapons up.

That said, it’s still a case of taxpayer money going places it doesn’t need to be going, but if the government is going to try to incentivize behavior, there are worse behaviors to incentivize.

Now, gun safes aren’t impregnable. A determined individual will eventually crack any safe of any kind, after all. But it’s not about being impregnable. This isn’t the vault at the Nakatomi Plaza building holding a fortune in bearer bonds like in Die Hard. You’re not trying to keep a group of dedicated, creative, and intelligent professional thieves at bay. You’re trying to keep a handful of street-level thieves from getting their hands on firepower they can, in turn, sell out of their truck to street-level thugs.

You don’t need to make it impossible for them to access. That will never happen.

Instead, you want it to look imposing and discouraging so they know they don’t have the time to mess with it. Sure, given enough time and resources, they’ll crack it, but they know they don’t have either the time or the resources to fool with it, so they leave.

It’s an interesting thought. What do you think?