Monday, March 24, 2014

Better gun safe than gun sorry

I don’t know a lot of people who keep guns – at least not that I know of. Sure, I do know a few gun owners, but gun ownership is not exactly prevalent in the company I tend to keep. (No, we’re the NPR-listening, wine-sipping, lily-livered snobs you read about.)

While I am personally not a gun nut aficionado, and wish that there were fewer of them out there, I’m not an anti-gun crusader, either.

Sure, I don’t exactly think it’s fair play to go deer hunting with an Uzi. I certainly don’t think that it’s necessary to shoot someone dead in a movie theater because he was annoying you with his texting. And I certainly cringe when I read yet another story about some mentally imbalanced individual with a storehouse of weapons who decides to go hunting humans. Or when I read about a five-year-old playing with loaded gun who manages to blow his three-year-old sister’s head off.

Plus I would be entirely creeped out to live in an open carry state, like Arizona.

But I don’t hold extreme views on banning guns, and I respect the rights of hunters – I eat meat – and the rights of those who, for whatever reason, feel compelled to keep a gun in the drawer of their nightstand.

But I do indeed believe that we have entirely too many guns floating around out there. For the U.S.,

…the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss research project, puts the number at 89 per 100 people, placing the country comfortably ahead of second-place Yemen, with 55. (Source: The Economist)

Wow! 89 per 100 people. Just wow. (Somebody out there has my 0.89 of a gun…) How proud it makes me to learn that we’re ahead of Yemen on the list!

Anyway, you can keep your guns. I just wish that people would be more careful with their weapons of non-mass destruction.

And apparently there are a lot of folks who are being careful out there, trying to keep their guns from being destroyed in a house fire, and from falling into the wrong, trigger-happy hands. All those responsible gun owners are boosting a business that I wouldn’t have supposed existed: gun safes.

The only home I’ve ever been in where I was acutely aware of the presence of guns was that of my husband’s aunt and uncle. Uncle Bill was a hunter, and a minor gun collector. He had a glass-fronted, flimsily locked gun cabinet in the living room that housed his collection of old fire arms, some of which dated – I believe – to Colonial times. He also kept a shotgun – which I believe may have been loaded – in the downstairs bathroom, next to the toilet. It was kept there so that Bill could poke it out the window and shoot at any critters that tried to get in Aunt Carrie’s bird feeders.

I never saw him use it, but I was always a bit scared to go into that bathroom, and was especially scared when Bill and Carrie’s granddaughters, who lived next door, popped in for a visit. (“Oh, honey, why don’t you use the upstairs bathroom…”) But the girls were used to being around guns – this was out in the country – and no one seemed to find it peculiar that there was a shotgun propped up against the wall, just under the cartoon of Manneken-Pis.

Bill and Carrie didn’t have a gun safe, at least not that I know of. But they were sort of an early indicator of the “shift in gun ownership,” in which “the proportion of American households that own guns has declined from about 50% in the early 1980s to about 35% now.”

I.e., while there are lot more guns around, there are a lot fewer gun owners. I.e., those gun nuts have gotten gun nuttier.  (Many live in fear that the gubmint will eventually outlaw the sale of guns, so they’re stockpiling.)

Which is good for the gun safe makers.

For some gun owners the safes themselves have become the thing to show off, their bulk and decoration hinting at the firepower contained within. “Because they are so pretty people are putting them in their front safe-national-img-s3rooms,” says Brandon Payne of Liberty Safe, a safemaker.

Well, pretty’s sure in the eye of the beholder.

Then again, they’re not trying to appeal to me.

Even without my patronage, Liberty manages to sell 500 safes each day:

… most of them big ones and mostly to people with lots of guns: its Fatboy model can hold 64 long guns and a clutch of pistols.

Liberty is, of course, not alone in the biz. Just google “gun safes.”

And these suckers aren’t cheap, either: they can run well into the thousands of dollars.

But better to be safe than sorry. Low end gun safes aren’t exactly impregnable.

Anyway, a lot of the gun safes out there – like the Fatboy (hmmm, wasn’t that the name of the A-bomb dropped on Nagasaki?) -  are made in the good old US of A.

As are a lot of guns. (As, of course, was the fatboy atomic bomb.)

Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and gun safes.

Yea, us!

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