Mandatory Storage Laws Make Everyone Less Safe

(TSA via AP)

I’m a big proponent of locking your firearms up when not in use. After all, every story we hear about a child finding a gun and accidentally killing themselves or someone else hurts. It reminds me of a story my mom used to tell me about when she was a kid and a friend of hers was killed in just those circumstances.

But I can’t support mandatory storage laws if for no reason other than I don’t trust the government to make rules about when I can have my firearm available to myself and when I can’t.

Yet an editorial is blasting GOP lawmakers for blocking such a law.

How were the kids able to access a gun?

That is one of the first questions that comes to mind after hearing about last month’s tragic death of Nyssa Davis — a 9-year-old girl who was shot in the head in her North Philadelphia home while playing unsupervised with her 12-year-old brother and 5-year-old cousin. Nyssa’s father, who illegally possessed the gun, was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, and so was her brother.

A fraction of a second and a family ruined. Whatever the legal status of the gun, this particular tragedy could have been prevented with one simple lock.

Except that Nyssa’s father was already breaking the law by possessing a firearm. You’re a complete and total idiot if you think one more law would have suddenly changed that.

Moving on…

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health’s Violence Dashboard, at least 100 children 18 and younger were killed by a bullet in 2019 throughout the commonwealth. Nearly half used the gun on themselves. Many more were shot and survived. How did they have access to a gun? One way is unsafe storage.

Except, we don’t know how many of those would have been prevented by a mandatory storage law.

First, how many were locked away but the kid knew where the key was somehow? How many were obtained illegally by the child and then they shot themselves?

Further, let’s look at numbers. The editorial says at least 100 kids were shot and killed in 2019. Without any context, that sounds bad. However, many of those 100 were kids involved in gang activity who were gunned down because of that involvement. If they had guns, they didn’t have them legally.

Nearly half used the gun on themselves, which suggests suicide.

That still sounds bad…until you remember that the population of Pennsylvania in 2019 was 12.8 million. While it’s a tragedy if it’s your child gunned down, it’s still statistical noise among 12.8 million people. Especially when we have absolutely no data on just how many were harmed because of unsafely stored but otherwise legal firearms.

Remember, someone who isn’t complying with the law in possessing a firearm isn’t likely to worry about locking their guns up.

Yet something the editorial fails to note, though, is how many lives might be lost because a firearm is locked away.

See, when you need a gun, it’s a bad time to try and unlock it. When the fight-or-flight response kicks in, you lose fine motor skills so your body and focus more on the gross motor skills needed in a fight. Fumbling with keys or a combination is going to take time, time you may not have. When you have just seconds to access your firearm, you may not be able to.

While those calling for mandatory storage laws may mean well, they’re thinking with emotion, not rationality. The senseless death of a little girl is horrible. No one disputes that. But how many more deaths would be caused because law-abiding citizens couldn’t access the firearms they need in the time they need them?

I’m sorry, but based on my own experiences, I just can’t buy that the answer is zero. Instead, I think the number will be far higher than the small handful of people who are killed accidentally because of an unsecured firearm. Regardless, it should be up to gun owners themselves, not their government, to decide how best to store their firearms.