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Rifles primer


    History of the Rifle
    Types of Rifles
       Bolt Action
       Lever Action
       Slide or Pump Action
       Semi-automatic Rifles
          Blowback Action

History of the Rifle

It is thought that the technique of applying spiral grooves to the inside bore of a barrel we call “rifling” began to appear in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Oral tradition claims rifling first evolved from the straight cuts in a bore made in 1498 by Viennese marksman Caspar Kollner to facilitate loading. The earliest written description of a spiral rifled firearm is found in an inventory of firearms from Turin, Italy, dated 1478.

The 19th century saw perhaps the greatest rate of invention in the evolution of the rifle. It opened with the Napoleonic Wars where massed formations of troops confronted each other with single-shot, muzzle loading flintlocks and ended with the world’s armies equipped with sophisticated repeating rifles that fired fixed, metallic ammunition. With the transition from ignition systems of scraps of sharpened flint sparking against steel frizzens to percussion cap ignitions (similar to today’s primers), firearms technology began moving at a rapid pace.

The American Civil War was the first major war where rifled firearms were employed by troops other than special units. The increased accuracy and distance gained by rifling the barrel’s bore also made it one of history’s bloodiest wars. During that terrible half decade, military small arms technology began to favor breech-loading weapons where powder, primer and bullet were contained in a single brass cartridge case.

During the last four decades of the 19th Century, manufacturers such as Sharps, Maynard, Remington, and Whitney produced popular and accurate single-shot rifles that fired metallic cartridges loaded via the firearm’s breech. Others, such as Winchester, Marlin, and Ballard, concentrated on lever-action rifles.

In Germany, the Mauser family was developing the bolt-action rifle, while Britain, in keeping with the demands of big-game hunting, concentrated on single and double barrel rifles capable of withstanding powerful cartridges.

Types of Rifles

Modern rifles come in all types, including working reproductions of cowboy-era rifles. There are “slide-action” rifles that operate identically to their slide or pump action shotgun cousins, as well as lever actions, bolt actions, and semi-automatic actions.

Bolt Action Rifles

Germany’s Paul Mauser is credited with inventing the first successful metallic cartridge bolt-action rifle in 1867. The bolt-operated firearm has a low, cylindrical receiver that cradles the bolt. The bolt’s handle projects over the receiver wall to the right (except in actions built specifically for left-handed shooters), pointing either in a straight line from the bolt itself, or curved downward towards the trigger guard. The two principal types of bolt actions are the turn-bolt and the straight-pull.

In the turn-bolt design, lifting the bolt handle rotates the locking lugs on the bolt out of engagement and begins the cartridge extraction process. Pulling the bolt handle to the rear extracts and ejects the fired cartridge case. Pushing the bolt handle forward strips a fresh cartridge from the magazine toward the chamber. Turning the bolt handle down engages the locking lugs in the corresponding recesses in the receiver and locks the action preparatory to firing.

Turn-bolt actions for high-power cartridges always have two or more locking lugs to reinforce the receiver’s strength. For rifles chambered for low powered .22 rimfire cartridges, a locking lug may not be present on the bolt. Instead, some manufacturers use the square surface of the bolt handle that locks into a special cut in the receiver as the locking mechanism. Others, particularly high-quality competitive rifles, use the locking lug technique.

In a straight-pull action, pulling the bolt straight backward unlocks the action and, with the same movement, extracts and ejects whatever is in the chamber. Pushing the bolt straight forward reloads the empty chamber and locks the action.

The Mauser-derived turn-bolt action has a system of cam-cocking that causes the firing pin to be pulled back into the bolt’s body and away from the primer when the bolt is lifted and moved rearward. When the bolt handle is turned down, the camming motion completes the compression of the main spring and cocks the rifle.

Lever Action Rifles

As its name indicates, the characteristic feature of a lever action rifle is the lever located below the receiver. The lever also forms the trigger guard.

The lever action rifle’s breechblock, an oblong steel block carrying the extractor and firing pin, is locked and unlocked by the action of the operating lever. Working the lever down and forward opens the action. Returning it to its original position with an upward and rearward swing closes the action. Lever guns do not use lugs to lock the breechblock into place. Instead, some have breech locks that wedge between the face of the breech and the receiver’s rear wall. Others have locking bolts that are raised into locking grooves in the side walls of the receiver.

Lever guns can have an exposed hammer or hammerless design. They may have tubular, box, or rotary magazines.

Slide or Pump Action Rifles

Most, but not all, slide-action rifles are made to fire the .22 rimfire. Tubular magazines are most commonly found on slide-action guns.

Slide action rifles are sturdy and simple to operate. The rifle’s operating rod or “action bar” runs from the fore-end or “slide handle” under the barrel through a slot in the receiver to the breechblock. A stud on the rear end of the action bar rides in a camming slot in the side of the breechblock. When the slide handle is pulled to the rear, the action bar lug is forced backward in its slot in the breechblock and the sloping slot cams the breechblock either up or down depending on the make of the rifle. The locking lug is disengaged from its seat in the receiver. The continuation of the rearward pull causes the unlocked breechblock to extract and eject the fired cartridge case, cock the rifle, and raise a new round from the magazine.

Pushing the slide handle forward pulls the breechblock forward and pushes the new cartridge off the carrier into the chamber. The lug on the action bar comes up against the camming section of its slot and cams the locking lug into its recess in the receiver completing the chambering of the round and locking the breech into position prior to firing.

Semi-automatic Actions

The three main categories of semi-automatic rifles are blowbackrecoil operated, and gas operated. These are the same categories found in semi-automatic handguns and shotguns.

Blowback Action RiflesThe blowback action is the simplest. It is a popular action for .22 rim fire cartridges. The blowback action consists of a relatively heavy breechblock that freely moves back and forth in the receiver. Gases released upon firing force the head of the cartridge case up against the face of the breechblock. The breechblock is then driven forward by the recoil or operating spring.While simple in concept, the smooth operation of this type action depends upon just the right mix of applied physics and mechanical functioning. When a cartridge is fired the resultant gases not only push the bullet up the bore towards the target, they also exert sideways pressure on the walls of the cartridge case and rearward pressure that forces the head of the cartridge case against the breechblock.Factors to be considered are the weight of the parts needed to be moved, friction, and the power necessary to compress the recoil spring. If a rifle is to operate smoothly, all mechanical parts must perform their roles flawlessly. To achieve that desired status and mechanical/ballistic harmony, the parts, spring tension, etc. must all be ideally suited to the particular type ammunition you will be shooting. When all factors are in proper balance, the effect of the gases on the breechblock will cause the breechblock to be sent on its rearward journey after the bullet has exited the bore and the sideways pressure forcing the cartridge case tightly against the receiver walls has subsided.In order to avoid constant problems, the rifle’s breechblock must not be so heavy that it fails to move after a round is fired. In this case, the action will jam because of the failure to cycle through the firing, extracting and ejecting, reloading process. The reverse situation is equally undesirable: namely, the breechblock moves so rapidly that the extractor tears off the head of the cartridge, rather than removing the entire case from the chamber.Delayed or Retarded Blowbacks use a variety of devices to prevent the breech from opening as rapidly as in a straight blowback gun.
Recoil Action RiflesIn recoil action rifles, the barrel and the breechblock actually slide in horizontal guides for a short distance while locked together when the gun is fired. The rearward motion of the barrel halts when it engages a stop in the receiver. The extremely short time it takes until this point allows the pressure in the chamber to drop sufficiently where the cartridge case is no longer pushed violently against the chamber walls and is now extractible.Once the barrel’s motion is halted, a cam unlocks the breechblock from the barrel, allowing it to continue traveling to the rear, during which time it extracts and ejects the cartridge case, cocks the hammer, and compresses the recoil spring. At the end of the breechblock’s rearward movement, the recoil spring drives it forward to load a new cartridge and cam its locking surfaces into their seats in the barrel.
Gas Operated RiflesIn gas-operated actions, a small amount of gas is bled off into an auxiliary chamber, where it pushes a piston that creates a force to unlock and open the action. The action is closed and locked by a recoil spring that is compressed during the rearward action. Gas-operating systems can use a long-stroke piston or a short-stroke piston.The long-stroke design siphons off gas under somewhat low pressure via a port near the muzzle. The operating rod is fastened to the piston stem and extends all the way back to the receiver where it engages the breechblock or bolt. The short-stroke design takes its charge of high-pressure gas by means of a port only inches forward of the chamber. The operating rod is not attached to the piston stem; rather, it is mounted just behind it. The piston is driven violently to the rear where it hits the forward end of the operating rod. This blow drives the operating rod to the rear causing the same process of unlocking, extracting, ejecting, cocking, reloading, and locking as occurs in the long-stroke design.

Handguns primer

Types of Handguns

The term to describe a firearm designed to be held and fired from one hand is “handgun.” Although some use “pistol” as a generic term for all types of handguns, that is not technically correct.

Technically, a pistol is any handgun in which the chamber is part of the barrel. That includes semi-automatics, single shot handguns, or multiple barrel pistols such as multi-shot derringers. A strict application of the term excludes revolvers where the chamber is found inside the cylinder. Nevertheless, “pistol” has become a generic term applied to virtually all handguns.

There are many handgun variations, both modern and antique. While the handgun designs popular in the 19th Century are enjoying a resurgence thanks to “cowboy” and Civil War marksmanship competitions, the two most popular and widely-used modern handgun designs are the revolver and the “auto-loader” or semi-automatic.

Semi-automatic and revolver handguns can be either double action or single action.

Single Action: An action that requires a manual cocking of the hammer before sufficient pressure on the trigger releases the firing mechanism.

Double Action: An action where a single pull of the trigger cocks and releases the hammer.


The two most common configurations for revolvers each have solid frames. One has a fixed cylinder, whereby a bushing and cylinder rod extend through the frame holding the cylinder in place, while the other has a cyclinder that swings out from the frame for loading and unloading.

Fixed Cylinder Revolvers

The fixed-cylinder design is the oldest. Perhaps the most widely-known model is the Colt Single Action Army, used by the post-Civil War U.S. military and relied upon by old-time law enforcement and western cattlemen, homesteaders and even the Old West’s legendary outlaws. The originals are valuable collector’s items.

How to load a fixed cylinder revolver

  1. Loading the fixed cylinder revolver requires manually placing the hammer on “half cock” (a position aptly named as the hammer literally is thumbed halfway between its resting position and its fully cocked position toward the rear of the frame). This allows the cylinder to freely rotate without working the trigger.
  2. Point the muzzle toward the ground. Next open the hinged “loading gate” located on the right side of the frame to the rear of the cylinder. With the loading gate swung to the outside, load a fresh cartridge via the “loading ramp” into the empty chamber. Manually advance the cylinder to expose access to the next chamber and repeat the process.
  3. While on half-cock and with the loading gate open, rotate the cylinder and visually inspect all individual chambers for a “high” or protruding primer. Unless the primer is seated properly, it may cause the cylinder to free and not freely rotate. Remove any cartridge with a “high primer.”
  4. Keep the sixth chamber in the cylinder empty. For safety reasons, 19th Century hand gunners developed this practice. The hammer with its fixed firing pin was lowered onto the empty chamber in order to avoid accidental discharges that might occur if the hammer is accidentally struck, the handgun dropped, or if the revolver swept from its holster by a branch or brush while in pursuit of a lost calf. The practice is a standard safety procedure today.

As its name states, the Single Action Army is a “single action” style revolver. That means the hammer must be cocked each time a shot is to be fired. Cocking the hammer moves the cylinder to align a chamber with the forcing cone at the breech of the barrel at the front and the firing pin at the rear. A cylinder stop rises from the bottom of the frame and engages the cylinder notch to hold the cylinder in place for firing. As the trigger is brought rearward, the hammer falls and its firing pin strikes the primer at the center of the cartridge base.

In “double action” variations, the fixed cylinder revolver cycles the cocking of the hammer and revolving of the cylinder to line up the next cartridge in ready to fire position via the rearward motion of the trigger prior to the point where the hammer falls and firing pin strikes the cartridge primer. Obviously, this takes more pressure on the trigger and more complex mechanical functioning. For this reason and because of the crisper trigger release, traditional revolver target shooters prefer firing even double action revolvers in single action mode.

How to unload a fixed cylinder revolver

  1. To unload, return the hammer to the half-cock position.
  2. Point the muzzle of the handgun skyward and push the ejector rod, located beneath the barrel, to the rear. The rod will pass through the cylinder pushing the spent cartridge case out of the cylinder.
  3. Once all the spend casing is removed, manually rotate the cylinder to the next chamber and repeat the procedure.
Swing-Out Cylinder Revolvers

The solid-frame swing-out cylinder design revolver has been the dominant revolver style throughout the 20th century to the present day. Invariably, they allow “selective” firing in either single action (manual hammer cocking) or double action, unless the hammer is covered by a shroud.

The cylinder is mounted on a “crane” assembly that, upon activation of a release latch, allows the cylinder to swing away from the frame for ease of loading and unloading. Cylinders in American-made revolvers of this style swing out to the left of the frame. The cylinder release latch is manufactured in a variety of styles and is usually found on the left of the frame and to the rear of the cylinder.

Smith & Wesson-type revolvers traditionally employ a cylinder release that is pushed forward. Early Colt revolvers had a knob-like release that had to be pulled to the rear. Ruger elected to employ a push-button release. Later designs borrowed from the innovative Dan Wesson revolvers, which had a cylinder lock-up approach that was forward of the cylinder. This improved accuracy through increased strength.

Because of this variety of manufacturing techniques, it’s critically important that you get to know your revolver thoroughly before using it.

How to load a swing-out cylinder revolver

  1. Loading or unloading the left-swinging cylinders of these revolvers is perhaps easiest when the revolver is held with the left hand positioned under the frame. Cradle the revolver with the barrel between the thumb and index finger and the trigger guard resting on the palm of the hand.
  2. Unlock the cylinder with the right hand, push the cylinder open using the second and third fingers inserted through the frame’s cylinder opening. Keep the tips of the second and third fingers on the cylinder itself to hold it steady. Hold the revolver with its muzzle pointing toward the ground. This position exposes the cylinder’s chambers for ease of access.
  3. Load fresh cartridges by feeding each individually into the cylinder chambers or by means of a “speedloader,” a device that holds the correct number of cartridges for the specific revolver model by the base of the cartridges with the bullet free to slip into each chamber in the cylinder. The speedloader allows the entire cylinder to be loaded with one quick movement. With the bullets positioned in the chambers, the speedloader’s release is either pushed or turned, freeing the cartridges to drop into place.
  4. Push the cylinder back into place, and then securely snug the revolver into the trigger hand.

How to unload a swing-out cylinder revolver

  1. Unloading reverses the procedure, with one difference. Once the cylinder is swung open, use your thumb to push the ejector rod that extends through the middle of the cylinder. This forces the ejector head out of the rear of the cylinder, which lifts each spent cartridge case from the cylinder chambers.
  2. With a quick, fluid turn of the wrist, shift the muzzle from pointing to the ground to pointing skyward, dumping the empty cartridges.

Semi-automatic handguns are commonly known as “automatics” and also as “auto-loaders” (a term that describes only part of the process). A single pull of the trigger causes a semi-automatic handgun to perform a complete cycle of firing, unloading of the spent cartridge case, reloading of the chamber with a fresh live cartridge from the magazine, and cocking of the firing mechanism.

Mechanical Functioning

From the point of view of how the firearm functions, “automatic” would be the most correct descriptive term. Where the term “automatic” becomes misleading is when the reference is to rate of fire. Strictly speaking, an “automatic” firearm fires all the cartridges in a magazine by pulling and holding the trigger once. A “semi-automatic” firearm fires one cartridge with each pull of the trigger.

Note: It is illegal to convert a semi-automatic to an automatic weapon. Please check with local law enforcement authorities for further details.

In general, when the trigger of a semi-automatic handgun is pulled, a force caused by the energy of the gases released by the ignited propellant not only sends the bullet down the bore of the barrel toward the target, but also propels the breech mechanism backward. A disconnecting unit disengages the sear from the trigger bar. This keeps the firearm from firing more than one shot per trigger pull. Normally, the union of the sear and the trigger bar holds the hammer or striker at full cock.

Smaller-caliber semi-automatics (.22, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 or 9mm Kurz) use a “blowback” operation design. A spring keeps the breechblock tight against the head of the cartridge. The recoil is caused by the gases acting according to the laws of physics, namely, the gases move in the opposite direction of the bullet traveling forward. This recoil forces the head of the cartridge case back against the face of the breechblock.

Traditional larger-caliber semi-automatics such as the .45 ACP use a “locked-breech” design whereby the breech remains firmly locked until the bullet has left the barrel. The same rearward force as in the simple blowback design occurs, but the breechblock that is locked to the barrel draws the barrel a short way to the rear also. Once the bullet exits the muzzle, the rearward movement of the barrel is stopped and it is unlocked from the breechblock. Only then does the breechblock continue its rearward movement to complete the cycling process.

The locking mechanism in Browning-style semi-automatics consists of ribs on the top of the barrel that lock into grooves in the slide. The two disengage as the barrel swings downward on a link during its brief movement toward the rear.

In general, semi-automatic handguns can be seen as having three main components: the receiver, the barrel, and the slide. The receiver has a hollow handle into which the magazine is fitted. The firing mechanism is typically found at the rear of the receiver and includes the hammer, sear, disconnector and a variety of springs and safety devices. The slide is attached to the receiver to allow the smooth forward and rearward motion necessary to allow the handgun to function. The rear section of the slide is the breechblock.

Semi-automatic handguns can have a variety of safeties incorporated into their design. Some, such as the 1911AI Colt .45, have a manual thumb safety at the left rear of the receiver that locks hammer and sear and prevents the slide from moving. It also has a grip safety that requires pressure from a firm hold to depress the safety and allow the trigger and sear to engage prior to firing.

Many modern semi-automatic handguns have “ambidextrous” safety levers that allow access from either side, depending on whether the marksman is left- or right-handed.

Tips on Handling

While storing handguns safely is undoubtedly important, handling it properly is also of utmost concern.Below are some tips on the proper handling of handgun.

Safety Note: Always visually inspect a semi-automatic’s chamber before and after inserting or withdrawing a magazine.

How to load a semi-automatic

  1. Loading a semi-automatic requires several steps. First, cartridges must be loaded into the magazine.
    • Be very careful to load only the correct caliber ammunition for that particular firearm.
    • Equally important, be sure to check that each cartridge is loaded facing the correct direction. That is, each cartridge loaded into the magazine must be pointing bullet-first toward the chamber of the barrel.
  2. To load cartridges into the magazine, the cartridge must be placed on the magazine follower or platform at the opening or mouth of the magazine. Push the cartridge toward the rear of the follower under the magazine’s bent metal or polymer lip. The addition of cartridges depresses the spring beneath the follower.
  3. After the magazine is loaded, a common practice is to tap the back of the magazine against the palm of your hand to settle the cartridges uniformly in the magazine.
  4. Typically, the magazine can be inserted into its magazine well opening at the bottom of the handgun’s grip with the slide either locked in its open position, that is, to the rear of the receiver. Alternatively, it can be inserted with the slide closed.
  5. If the magazine is inserted with the slide locked back, closing the slide will strip the top cartridge from the magazine and seat it into the chamber. If the magazine is closed when the magazine is inserted, the slide must be manually opened, then closed before a cartridge from the magazine can be placed in the chamber.

How to unload a semi-automatic

  1. Unloading the semi-automatic reverses the procedure. First, the magazine release button (usually on the left side of the receiver near and slightly below the area where the rear section of the trigger guard meets the grip) must be depressed. Remove the magazine. Next, and this is extremely important,Always open the slide to visually inspect
    the chamber for any remaining cartridges.
    Simply removing the magazine
    does not guarantee the firearm is unloaded.
    A cartridge can remain in the chamber.
  2. Resist any temptation to pull open the slide by grasping it between the thumb and one or more fingers in a “Y” or “slingshot” fashion. You should avoid this technique bacause it does not provide the most secure grip. Instead, take the non-shooting hand and, with the palm over the top of the slide, grasp the slide with four fingers and the thumb and push it to the rear.Working the slide, in traditionally-designed handguns, loads the chamber and cocks the firing mechanism. If the handgun in question is single action, this puts it in the firing mode. If it is double action, simply pulling the trigger will cock the hammer device for the first round. Many handguns have a “decocker” that when engaged drops the hammer from cocked and ready to a dormant, non-firing state even if a cartridge is in the chamber.
Handgun Ammunition

There are two basic categories of handgun ammunition: rimfire and centerfire. The difference is the location of the primer. (Cutaway illustrations of typical .22 long rifle cartridge and centerfire pistol cartridge – indicate bullet, cartridge case, powder charge, primer in each)

Handgun ammunition ranges from the .22 long rifle rimfire cartridge to the very new, very powerful .480 Ruger. Handgun calibers include the .25 ACP, .32 magnum, the .380 ACP, .38 Special, .38 super, 9 mm, .357 SIG, .357 magnum, the .40 Smith & Wesson, 10 mm, .41 Special, the .41 magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, the .45 ACP, the .454 Casull and a variety of “wildcat” calibers.

The debate

Gun Manufacturers
Consumer Safety
Smart Guns
Trigger Locks  
Gun Sellers 
Background Checks
One Gun a Month
Waiting Periods  
Gun Owners
 Concealed Carry
Project Exile
Safe Storage

Ballistic Fingerprinting

Bullets and shell casings fired from a handgun contain unique markings—like fingerprints—which can be used to link specific handguns with gun crimes. Law enforcement can use these markings to determine if a specific bullet or shell casing was fired from a specific firearm. Ballistics or gun fingerprinting proposals require that handguns be test-fired before they are sold, and that its unique “fingerprints” be entered into a computer database that will be accessible to law enforcement.

Two states, New York and Maryland, have recently enacted legislation that requires newly sold handguns to be test-fired before they are sold in order to permit the collection of spent bullets and/or shell casings. Two firearm manufacturers, Smith & Wesson and Glock, are currently installing a system to produce digital images of ballistic material for all handguns produced. Each company will maintain its own database that will be accessible to law enforcement.

 Proponents Say
  • The actual handgun used in a gun crime is rarely left at a crime scene, making gun tracing impossible. However, shell casings and bullets are often found at crime scenes. Ballistic fingerprinting will increase law enforcement’s ability to link guns with gun crime events and find and lock up criminals.
 Critics Say
  • Ballistic fingerprinting is a de facto registration system for handguns. Law enforcement will have a register of all handgun owners, which could possibly be the first step to confiscation of all lawfully owned handguns.
  • Implementing the recordkeeping associated with ballistic fingerprinting would be expensive and wasteful. The state would have to develop and maintain a large database of spent bullets and cartridges, most of which will never be used in crime.
  • Ballistic markings from bullets and shell casings can be altered easily, thereby rendering the “fingerprints” useless.
 What the Public Thinks
  • No data on public support is available at this time.

Consumer Safety Standards

Although it may be more difficult for a child to open a bottle of aspirin than to fire a gun, Congress has expressly forbidden the Consumer Product Safety Commission—or any other national government agency—from regulating firearms. As a result, toy guns and teddy bears are subject to more manufacturing oversight than handguns.

American-made guns are one of the few consumer products specifically exempt from consumer product safety regulations (imported firearms are required to meet certain safety standards).

Proposals have been put forth to apply consumer product safety regulations to the firearm industry to require uniform quality and safety standards for American-made guns.

 Proponents Say
  • Just as the re-engineering of cars has contributed to dramatic declines in motor vehicle fatalities, subjecting gun manufacturers to safety regulations would be an important step toward preventing accidental gun deaths.
  • Federal law requires imported handguns to meet minimum safety standards; handguns produced in the United States should be subject to the same standards.
 Critics Say
  • Guns are designed to inflect injury and death and therefore, the notion that a firearm can be made “safe” stands against the very nature of the product.
  • New safety standards will cause the price of handguns to increase making handguns too expensive for the poor to own.
  • New safety measures may lead to a ban on pre-existing handguns that do not meet the mandated level of safety.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans—and 64% of gun owners—say they support government safety regulations for the design of guns. Ninety-four percent (94%) believe handguns made in the U.S. should meet the same safety standards applied to imported guns.


Litigation against the Gun Industry

As passage of gun safety legislation has been continually stalled in the Congress, some advocates of gun safety have turned to lawsuits against the gun industry to try and force new safety feature requirements for firearms.

One approach these lawsuits have taken is to sue the industry for negligence in failing to manufacture guns with available safety features.

Under this approach, a number of people have brought suits against specific gun manufacturers on behalf of deceased family members who were killed accidentally. The suits claim that the manufacturer could have—and should have—incorporated well-known and available safety features into the design of the gun that would have prevented death.

Currently, some municipalities have sued the gun industry for failing to incorporate existing safety features that would prevent certain accidental deaths or failing to develop “smart guns.” In March 2000, Smith & Wesson, the nation’s largest handgun manufacturer and producer of 20 percent of handguns sold in the United States, agreed to institute a series of safety and business practice reforms, in exchange for being dismissed from some of the municipal lawsuits.

 Proponents Say
  • The technology exists to make handguns safer and reduce the number of accidental deaths that occur each year due to firearms.
  • Since some of the technology to make guns safer has existed for many years, it is apparent that only litigation will force the industry to adopt such technology.
  • Developing safety gun technology, such as “smart guns,” could help reduce the number of firearms available in the illegal market by making stolen guns unusable.
 Critics Say
  • Handguns are designed to kill and no technology can make them safe.
  • Safety features that cause a firearm to function improperly can prevent a gun owner from responding quickly to an emergency, thereby causing loss of life.
  • Proper firearm education programs can teach firearm owners how to properly handle their firearms further regulation of the manufacturing of guns is not needed.
  • The cost of litigation will eventually lead all handgun manufacturers to cease producing guns effectively leading to a ban on the sale of handguns.
  • Litigation will also drive up the cost of purchasing a firearm and will deny the poor of the right to own a gun.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Approximately 40 percent of those surveyed said that they believe their city or state should sue gun makers to force stricter safety measures from the industry.


Smart Guns

“Smart” guns—or personalized guns—are guns designed to be fired only by the gun’s owner.

They may reduce the likelihood of unintentional firearm injuries to young children, adolescent suicides, firearm injuries or crimes inflected by criminals who wield stolen guns, and firearm injuries to law enforcement officers whose guns are seized in a struggle.

There are a number of technologies in existence that can be used to personalize guns. In general, gun manufacturers have refused to invest in and develop personalized guns. However, state and federal legislation has been introduced that would require the development and production of personalized guns.

 Proponents Say
  • “Smart” guns will reduce unintentional firearm injuries by suicides by unauthorized users such as young family members by making it impossible for them to operate such guns.
  • “Smart” guns can also prevent gun deaths and injuries from stolen guns; as such guns are inoperable by the thief (more than 500,000 guns are stolen from homes each year).
  • “Smart” guns are more effective than trigger locks and other removable devices because they provide passive, automatic protection. The gun is normally in a locked position.
 Critics Say
  • The technology does not yet exist to make 100 percent foolproof personalized guns commercially available.
  • The cost of “smart” guns will be prohibitively high, pricing poor families out of the gun market.
  • A mandate to require “smart” guns will lead to the confiscation and destruction of non-“smart” guns.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans polled—and 59 percent of gun owners—support legislation requiring manufacturers to personalize all handguns sold in the U.S.


Trigger Locks

Trigger locks are gun safety locks designed to prevent a gun’s trigger from going off accidentally. Trigger lock models currently available include keyed devices, combination locks and alarms. There is currently no national law requiring trigger locks for firearms.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently found that many of the locks currently on the market could be defeated by children. If you have children living in or visiting your home, you should carefully research the safety features of your locking device. While there is no national safety standard for gun locks, the State of California recently adopted very stringent standards for locks that must be met in order for the lock to be sold in California. A list of locks that have been tested and approved is available at

 Proponents Say
  • Trigger locks are an inexpensive way to prevent guns kept in the home from being operated by unsupervised children, and therefore will help reduce the unintentional firearm deaths and suicides occurring each year.
  • Legislation requiring that trigger locks be provided with every handgun sold is needed to maximize the number of families using these locks.
 Critics Say
  • Since there are no federal standards on trigger locks, the quality of products vary greatly and, in some cases, guns with locks that make the trigger inaccessible can still fire, if loaded. Some can be easily broken or otherwise overcome.
  • A trigger lock will increase the time it takes a gun owner to respond to a self-defense emergency.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans support a requirement that trigger locks be used for all handguns.


Background Checks for All Gun Purchases

The Brady law requires that all licensed gun dealers conduct a background check on all gun purchasers. There is a significant loophole in this law, however, in that unlicensed dealers are permitted to sell guns at gun shows, through the internet, and in private sales without performing any type of background check.

The loophole has a real impact on the ability of kids and criminals to have access to guns. Guns used in the Columbine shooting and the day care center shooting in Granada Hills were purchased through unlicensed dealers at gun shows—without background checks.

Proposals have been offered to close this loophole in its most visible context—gun shows, where both licensed and unlicensed dealers gather. Other proposals would go further, mandating that all gun sales—even for guns that are sold by private sellers through the newspaper, for example—be subject to background checks.

 Proponents Say
  • The Brady Act has made significant gains in improving gun safety by preventing more than 500,000 prohibited persons from purchasing guns through the use of background checks.
  • SOURCE: GIFFORD ET AL., BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, 2000But this effort has been significantly hampered by the gun show loophole and other inadequacies in the law, which prevent background checks from being run on all gun sales.
 Critics Say
  • Requiring background checks at gun shows and for private sales would be very difficult to enforce. Therefore, the non-licensed dealers that are conducting these sales have no incentives to obey the law. Furthermore, there is no effective way to monitor whether or not background checks are being completed on private sales.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Eighty-one percent of Americans polled believe all handgun sales should be subject to a Brady background check and a five-day waiting period.



“One-gun-a-month” proposals prohibit the purchase of more than one gun each month by the same purchaser. These laws are designed to reduce illegal trafficking in handguns by preventing traffickers from purchasing multiple handguns at a single time.

Several studies conducted by the federal government have concluded that areas with “strong gun laws,” such as New York, California and Chicago, Illinois, are flooded with handguns by traffickers who purchase large amounts of handguns from “weak gun law” states.

For example, one survey reported that 94.2 percent of crime guns recovered in New York City were originally purchased in another state (Youth Gun Interdiction Crime Gun Trace Analysis Report).

In an attempt to reduce interstate trafficking of firearms, four states (California, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia) limit sales of handguns, with limited exceptions, to one handgun a month per customer. These laws can affect interstate trafficking because they make it more difficult for traffickers to purchase multiple firearms legally in one state so they can transport these firearms to another state with stricter gun safety laws, for illegal sale there.

 Proponents Say
  • Current laws leave states that seek to regulate the sale and possession of firearms vulnerable to illegal guns flowing into their communities from states that do not regulate firearms.
  • One-gun-a-month laws will reduce the illegal traffic in handguns, by preventing traffickers from purchasing multiple handguns at a single time.
  • Studies have shown that one-gun-a-month laws work. Virginia’s one-gun-a-month law made it 36 percent less likely that in certain states guns associated with a criminal investigation would be traced to Virginia gun dealers rather than to dealers in southeastern states.
 Critics Say
  • Transporting a firearm across state lines and re-selling it without a federal firearm license is already a crime.
  • There is no evidence that imposing a limit on the number of guns a person can buy has definitive benefits, such as a reduction in violent crime, for citizens of states that enact such laws.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Eighty-one percent of Americans favor limiting handgun purchases to one per month.


Waiting Periods
for Handgun Purchases

A waiting period is a mandatory “cooling off” period imposed between the time a person purchases a gun and is permitted to take possession of the weapon.

At its inception, the Brady Law required a 5-day waiting period to purchase a handgun. However, in 1998, the 5-day period was replaced with an instant background check.

More than ninety percent of all Brady background checks are performed instantly. In the remaining cases—where the instant check reveals a potential problem that may prohibit the purchaser from owning a gun—the gun purchase may be delayed no more than three days while records are reviewed.

While there is no longer a national waiting period to purchase handguns, some states have chosen to impose their own waiting period. The waiting period is also referred to as a “cooling-off period” because the time lag required before receiving the gun could serve to reduce the impulsive violent use of firearms. Currently, seventeen states impose a waiting period during the purchase of a firearm. These waiting periods are generally 1 to 7 days.

 Proponents Say
  • Waiting periods can help reduce firearm violence by hindering a person who, enraged or distraught to the point that he or she cannot make rational decisions, wants to purchase a firearm to exact revenge on someone or commit suicide. A waiting period will allow time for this person to calm down and possibly react to the situation confronting them in a non-violent manner.
  • In some cases, background checks cannot be performed within three days—the maximum amount of time for a check allowed under current law. Mental records are often not computerized, for example. Therefore, it is possible that someone with a mental health history may legally purchase a firearm without those records being completely reviewed.
 Critics Say
  • There is no evidence that laws delaying handgun purchases have any effect on crime or firearm suicide.
  • A waiting period is a hindrance to lawful firearm purchasers.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Eighty-one percent of Americans want both a background check and a five-day waiting period before the purchase of a handgun.


Concealed Carry Laws

Concealed carry laws permit gun owners, under certain conditions, to carry a concealed loaded weapon in public.

These laws were passed in response to concerns that only criminals were carrying concealed loaded weapons and that law-abiding gun owners have the right to protect themselves.

While there is no national law addressing the concealed carry of weapons, most states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons in public after obtaining a permit from law enforcement authorities.

 Proponents Say
  • Passing concealed carry laws will lead to criminals being confronted with more and more armed victims. This will lead to increased deterrence to criminals and a reduction in crime.
  • Publicity surrounding the passage of concealed carry laws will deter criminals from committing armed crime for fear of being confronted with an armed victim.
 Critics Say
  • There is no evidence that passing concealed carry laws leads lead to an increase in successful self-defense uses of handguns.
  • Petty and street criminals are generally not aware of new laws passed in the state legislature, and therefore will not be deterred from crime simply because a relaxed concealed carry law is passed.
  • Widespread, immediate access to loaded handguns, which is encouraged by concealed carry, increases the risk that an argument will escalate to firearm violence or that a personal crisis will trigger an impulsive suicide.
 What the Public Thinks
  • 56% of Americans believe that CCW permits should be issued only to those who can prove “special needs” to carry. The public is sharply split, however, on the basic questions of whether concealed carry weapons make life safer—by allowing citizens to arm themselves against potential criminals—or more dangerous by increasing the number of armed persons.


Licensing Handgun Owners

There is currently no national law requiring licensing of handgun owners. While proposals vary, licensing would generally require that all new, would-be handgun owners obtain a license showing they have passed a safety test and undergone a criminal background check in order to purchase or possess a handgun. Although there is no federal licensing requirement, five states have passed legislation requiring handgun licenses.

 Proponents Say
  • Licensing will improve gun safety by requiring all gun purchasers to go through safety training. Because a number of gun deaths occur each year due to unsafe handling or storing of firearms, safety training will help reduce the number of unintentional and teen firearm deaths.
  • A licensing system would effectively close the “gun show loophole,” by requiring that all gun owners go through a criminal background check—no matter where that purchase takes place.
  • It is common sense that if we require licenses for owners ofnon-lethal products like cars, that we should require that deadly weapon owners are also licensed, too.
 Critics Say
  • Handgun owner licensing could eventually lead to the registration and confiscation of all handguns, as some claim it has in other countries.
  • There is no evidence that safety training will reduce unintentional and other deaths. Gun owners may choose not to follow safe behaviors, even though they have been taught them.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Eighty-five percent of persons surveyed believe new, would-be handgun purchasers should be required to undergo gun safety training. Sixty-eight percent would extend this requirement to current handgun owners.


Registration of Handguns

Currently, there is no federal requirement that handguns be registered. Proposals would require that all handguns be registered to their owner in a system similar to the registration of automobiles. Registration would provide a paper trail on each handgun as it is transferred from owner to owner.

 Proponents Say
  • Registration of handguns would greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement to track handguns used in crimes and reduce handgun trafficking.
  • Registration would provide the necessary incentive for unlicensed sellers to perform background checks and to report stolen guns, so that they are not personally associated with the subsequent use in criminal activity.
  • Registration is a common sense approach to reducing the flow of illegal weapons. Guns like automobiles or other potentially deadly products are uniquely dangerous and it makes sense that their sale or transfer ought to be recorded.
 Critics Say
  • Registration of handguns is the first step to confiscation of lawfully owned handguns.
  • Registration would be ineffective in stopping gun crimes, as it would not pertain to the 65 million handguns already in circulation.
 What the Public Thinks
  • Eighty percent (80%) of Americans questioned favor mandatory registration of handguns.


Repealing State Preemption Laws

The majority of states have passed some form of state preemption laws with regard to the regulation of firearms. Generally speaking, these state preemption laws forbid local communities from passing firearm laws that are more stringent than those governing the state as a whole.

If a state has not passed a gun preemption law, cities of that state are free to enact measures to regulate firearms. For example, the absence of a state preemption law in Illinois allows the Township of Morton Grove to ban possession of handguns within city limits.

In light of gun safety law gridlock at the national level, some cities are interested in enacting their own ordinances to promote gun safety and seek the repeal of state preemption laws as a means to restore local control over firearm policy.

 Proponents Say
  • The firearm injury experience of different areas—rural, semi-rural, suburban and urban—differ greatly. Municipalities need the freedom to address their particular aspects of the firearm issue as they see fit. This may sometimes mean enacting stronger legislation that exists at the state level.
  • Local jurisdictions should have the right to self-legislate.
  • The inconvenience imposed on transients is outweighed by the potential benefits of addressing local aspects of the firearm issue with local legislation.
 Critics Say
  • Where no uniform state laws are in place, the result can be a complex patchwork of restrictions that change from one local jurisdiction to the next. It is unreasonable to require lawful gun owners, whether residents of a given state or persons passing through or visiting a state, to memorize a myriad of laws, at the risk of potential expense and confiscation of their firearms.
 What the Public Thinks
  • No data on public support is available at this time.

Project Exile

Tough prosecution of criminals guilty of gun crimes is one strategy law enforcement is using to help battle gun crime.

Project Exile is a program that maximizes the penalties for gun crimes by providing for the prosecution of gun crimes in federal court, where criminal penalties tend to be harsher than in most state courts

Project Exile originated in Richmond, Virginia, and has been instituted in Newport News, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Rochester, New York.

In addition to providing for federal prosecution of all gun crimes, Project Exile also provides for mandatory sentences for illegal firearm possession and denial of bond for those arrested on firearm charges.

 Proponents Say
  • There is some evidence that programs such as Project Exile have had an effect in reducing the population of armed criminals in Richmond. Authorities there contend that Project Exile helped cut homicide rates by 36 percent (New York Times, 1999).
  • Knowing that gun crimes will be prosecuted under the harshest penalties allowed will serve as a strong deterrent for would-be gun criminals.
 Critics Say
  • Tough prosecution of gun criminals will do little to stop overall gun violence while loopholes in current law—like the gun show loophole—are allowed to go unaddressed.
  • Project Exile is expensive to implement. Federal prosecutions cost approximately three times as much as local prosecution of gun crimes.
  • Project Exile is inherently racist because it is only being implemented in urban areas with heavy minority populations. Therefore, suspects arrested under Project Exile—usually minorities—are prosecuted under stricter standards than white suspects from outlying counties accused of committing the same crimes.
 What the Public Thinks


  • More than three-quarters of Americans questioned believe the use of a gun during commission of a crime should result in a doubling of the sentence.


Safe Storage Laws

“Safe Storage Laws” require the safe storage of guns around children. These laws are also known as Child Access Prevention or “CAP” laws.

These laws make adults criminally liable if a child obtains their improperly stored guns and uses them to commit violence. Seventeen states have enacted such safe storage or CAP laws.

 Proponents Say
  • Safe storage laws encourage gun-owning families to store their guns in a way that protects their children from accidentally shooting themselves or others, using their parents’ gun to commit suicide, which is a leading cause of youth mortality.
  • There is some evidence that passage of safe storage laws is associated with a reduction in accidental firearm deaths among children under 14.
 Critics Say
  • Safe storage laws are not necessary since accidental child firearm deaths represent such a small fraction of all gun deaths (about 1.5 percent).
  • The passage of safe storage laws will not reduce firearm deaths and injuries but rather impair people’s ability to use guns in self-defense.
  • The actual prosecution of parents whose child uses their parents’ gun to kill himself or herself or another child is rare. Therefore they cannot be considered a deterrent.
 What the Public Thinks
  • More than three-quarters of persons polled support making gun owners liable if a child misuses an improperly stored gun.


Teret, Stephen P., Daniel W. Webster, Jon S. Vernick et al.

Support for New Policies to Regulate Firearms: Results of Two National Surveys. New England Journal of Medicine 339(12):812-818, 1998 Sept.

Smith, Tom W.

2000 National Gun Policy Survey of the National Opinion Research Center: Research Findings. National Opinion Research Center: University of Chicago, 2000.

Gifford, Lea S., Devon B. Adams, and Gene Lauver

Background Checks for Firearm Transfers. (Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin, June 2000, NCJ 180882) Washington, D.C.:U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000.

Cummings, Peter, David C. Grossman, Frederick P. Rivara et al.

State Gun Safe Storage Laws and Child Mortality Due To Firearms.Journal of the American Medical Association, 278(13) 1084-86, 19

Teenager’s Guide to Firearm Safety

Owning a gun
Encountering a gun
Be Prepared
If you find a gun
If you see someone with a gun
If someone discharges a gun in school
Preventing School Shootings: The Warning Signs
Access to weapons
Your Responsibilities
Make time for your friends
Don’t be a bystander
Never threaten anybody
Keep adults informed
Establish a watchdog group


The gun violence that you see on television and in movies is not real. Does this sound obvious? It should. Even so, there are teenagers (and even some adults) who don’t really understand the difference. Today’s movies and television shows look so realistic, that for many people they blur the line between fantasy and reality. All too often, these people see actors using guns in an irresponsible manner, but very rarely do they see the negative consequences that result from that inappropriate behavior.

In real life, if you mishandle a gun, somebody is going to get hurt or even killed. That is the reality. If you use a gun to intentionally hurt somebody, you could go to prison for the rest of your life. That is the reality. Guns are not toys, and they must never be treated as though they are.

Owning a gun is a right – but not for everyone. Certain categories of people are not allowed to buy or own a gun. This includes people under a certain age. The laws on gun ownership for young people are governed by State and Federal law, and they vary widely. If you would like more information regarding your state’s regulations, go to this page on gun laws.

Owning a Gun

If you choose to own a gun and are old enough and otherwise eligible, you must do so responsibly. This means keeping and using the gun safely, and keeping it out of the hands of younger children, burglars or anyone who does not understand firearms safety.

We highly recommend that you enroll in a gun safety class. There is no way to own a gun safely without understanding how it works and how it should be maintained.

Encountering a Gun

Guns and schools don’t mix. Ever. Yet each year, more than 40,000 students bring guns to school. Also, 14 million families own guns, so chances are pretty good that some of your friends live with guns in the home. This means that there is a possibility that you will encounter a gun, in your school or elsewhere. If this happens, you should be prepared to handle the situation so that you will not put yourself or anyone else in danger.

Be Prepared

As you read through these scenarios, think about what you would do in the each of the situations. It may seem silly, but mentally preparing yourself ahead of time is the best way to make sure you don’t make a foolish decision under pressure.

What Do You Do If You Find a Gun?
ScenarioWhat do you do if you and your friends find a gun? What if you are by yourself?
DiscussionIf you find a gun, do not touch it. Notify an adult, who can confiscate the firearm and then turn it over to the police. Getting an adult may be as simple as calling out to a passerby, it may mean using a cell phone to call the police, or it may mean staying with the gun while a friend goes to get help. If you are alone, you may have to leave the gun where it is and go get help yourself. If there are younger children in the area, you should tell them that you have an emergency and send them to get an adult while you stay with the gun.
RuleTell an adult and do not touch the gun!
What Do You Do If You See Somebody with a Gun?
ScenarioWhat if you see someone showing off a gun to their friends, or if you see the gun in somebody’s locker or in somebody’s backpack?
DiscussionIt is illegal for any student to bring a gun to school, and it puts you and everybody else needlessly in danger, regardless of whether the student intends to use the gun or not. Loaded guns can and doaccidentally discharge. The risk is much greater when the gun is jostling around in a backpack, where the safety can easily be dislodged and the trigger pulled by items being yanked in and out of the bag all day long.
RuleTell an adult! There is no exception to this rule.
What If Someone Discharges a Gun In School?
ScenarioWhat would you do if a shooting took place in your school?
DiscussionDespite the high-profile nature of school shootings, they are, thankfully, rare. Still, it is important to think about how you would react to a school shooting, because you would only have a couple of seconds to react and your natural reaction would be panic.Many schools have already established emergency procedures for you to follow in the event of a shooting. If your school has such a plan, familiarize yourself with the drill.
RulesIf your school doesn’t have a drill then there are certain rules that you should follow:If you are in the immediate vicinity of the shooting (usually a common area like a cafeteria, hallway, or lobby), move as far away as possible. Leave the building if possible, or duck into a nearby classroom. Since every school is different, you have to figure out the safest route. This is why you have to plan ahead. In the heat of the moment, you will not have time to weigh your options. If you’re not sure of the best escape route, talk it over with a teacher or a local police officer who is familiar with your school’s layout.If you are in a classroom when the shooting occurs, close the doors, lock them if you can, and barricade the doors with desks and chairs so that nobody can enter.Do not try to leave the room until your teacher gives you permission to do so, or unless you are instructed by police officers to evacuate the building.

Preventing School Shootings: The Warning Signs

Most school shootings are not spur-of-the-moment events. In fact, they are almost always planned in advance. The majority of shooters get their initial “inspiration” more than two weeks prior to the attack itself, and just as many spend at least two days prior to the attack working out the details. Although this is a small window of opportunity, most school shooters do provide warning signs. If you know what those signs are, an intervention may be possible.

However, it cannot be stressed enough that recognizing these signs is useless unless you report them to an adult immediately. The U. S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center conducted a study of 37 school shootings. They found that more than 30 of the shooters told at least one peer about their plans, but only two of those peers relayed that information to an adult.

Contrary to media hype, school shooters do not fit a certain “profile.” The kid in the trench coat is no more a threat than the kid in the football jersey. The kid without friends is no more a threat than the kid who is friends with everybody. Stereotypes cannot and do not predict who is at risk of becoming a school shooter. However, there are certain behavioral “risk factors” that most school shooters exhibit before their attack that you can watch out for. If you observe any of the following, tell an adult. Remember, this is not about getting your friend in trouble. It’s about getting them help. In reality, you are probably saving their life.


Most school shooters do not directly threaten the people they intend to harm. However, a majority of them do discuss their intentions with other students, friends, or siblings, and many of them discuss these plans with more than one person. These discussions may vary in detail, but any references to killing themselves, killing another person, making a “hit list,” or attacking a school are immediate cause for concern.
Never assume that these are just jokes.

Access to Weapons

Any person asking around about how they can get a gun or how they can make an explosive device is an obvious threat. However, the majority of school shooters obtain their guns from their own home or from the home of a relative, so they may not have to ask these questions. If that is the case, you need to look for signs that they are intending to use the gun, that they have attempted to access the gun, or that they already have obtained the gun. Keep in mind, that simply having a gun in one’s home does not automatically make them a threat. It is only a danger when the firearm is accessible to somebody who has shown an interest in using the gun illegally or irresponsibly.


Some school shooters warn their friends not to be in a specific place at a certain time. Since the victims of school shootings are rarely the intended targets, school shooters may take this precaution to make sure that their friends do not get hurt by accident. There also have been instances where shooters have told friends where to position themselves so that they can watch the “event” unfold without putting themselves in danger.

If a friend of yours shows any of these behaviors, your natural reaction might be to rationalize the behavior. You may try to convince yourself that your friend is just kidding, or that they are not capable of doing something like that. This is not your decision to make. Regardless of whether or not you think your friend is a real threat, you must tell an adult what you know.

You also should keep in mind that potential school shooters may tell different people different things. You may hear them make a threat, while somebody else may know that the same person has made attempts to get a hold of a gun. Independently, these actions may not seem important, but together they take on a whole new meaning. However, as long as you both report what you know to school officials, those officials can take the appropriate steps to ensure that your friend is not actually a threat, or if they are, they can get them the help that they need. Because if a friend of yours is even contemplating using a gun to solve their problems, then your friend does need help.

Your Responsibilities

Your role in preventing violence in schools does not end with watching for warning signs. Safe schools are the result of strong communities, where everyone looks out for the well-being of others. For example:

Make Time for Your Friends

The culture we live in is becoming increasingly individualistic. People are so busy trying to manage the stress in their own life that they have less and less time to lend somebody else a hand. There are some people who are fiercely independent by nature and can handle most situations by themselves, but the majority of people cannot function like that. Needing help from others is completely normal, but a lot of people are afraid to ask for help because they fear being perceived as weak. This is why it is important that you make the effort to ensure that the people around you do not feel stranded. No matter how lonely they feel, they may not be able to ask you or anybody else for help.

Feelings of isolation often lead to depression, which may in turn become a catalyst for violent outbursts. This whole progression is avoidable just by taking a few minutes out of your day to check up on your friends and make sure that they’re doing all right.

Don’t be a Bystander

If you see other students being picked on or bullied, do something about it. If you don’t want to get involved personally, find a teacher and let them handle the matter. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the situation. Teenagers that are bullied are more likely to resort to violence as a means of exacting revenge. Showing these kids that you care enough to look out for them, even if you don’t really know them, can make a huge difference.

Never Threaten Anybody (Even as a Joke)

Schools have become zero-tolerance zones, and this includes cracking down on students who make jokes about wanting to “make somebody sorry” or plans to “Columbine” the school. School officials have to take seriously anything that can be construed as a threat. So if you ever have the urge to make that kind of a comment, do everybody a favor and don’t

Keep Adults Informed

It’s important that you have at least one adult with whom you feel comfortable discussing things that are going on around you. This can be a parent, a teacher, a guidance counselor – anyone you know you can turn to if you have a problem or even if you just want to vent about everyday pressures you experience. Parents and teachers want to help you, but often they don’t know how to approach you. That is why it is important that you make an effort to let them into your life. It sounds corny, but the reality is that the more open and honest you are with your parents and teachers, the more they will understand you and the less likely they are to be judgmental of the choices you make.

Also, as a student, you are far more in tune with what is going on in the student body than any adult could ever be. If someone is planning any form of school violence, you are much more likely to see the warning signs before a parent or teacher would. This is why you must always discuss any possible threats with an adult. Things that are plainly obvious to you may not be to an adult. Never assume that because you know what’s going on that everybody else does too.

Establish a Watchdog Group

The best way to maintain a safe community is to get the people around you involved. Several organizations help students like you establish community-based groups that are designed to make schools safer. A good place to start is the National Crime Prevention Council’s safe schools initiative. This encourages students, parents, teachers, law enforcement officers, businesses, and faith-based organizations to come together to create an educational network that can tackle the issue of youth violence in a way that meets the specific needs of your community.

Other alternatives include peer mediation programs, where teens teach other teens how to settle arguments without violence. There are peer counseling programs, where older students have the opportunity to mentor younger students. And there are teen courts, where students who are involved in conflicts can turn matters over to a jury of their peers for resolution. There are plenty of options out there. All you have to do is find a program that addresses the needs of your community.

You also may want to consider encouraging your school to set up a crisis hotline. These anonymous hotlines provide students with a 1-800 number that they can call to report potential threats. Upon receiving a call, an operator notifies the appropriate school official who is then responsible for investigating all allegations. Many of these hotline programs also have websites, where students can send anonymous e-mails if they prefer to submit their report online. Obviously, the privacy afforded by these hotlines can really help open up communication between students and administrators.

Firearm safety during hunting,transportation or range

Whether you are a hunter, shooting sports competitor, casual shooter preparing for a day at the range, or just heading out to take your firearm to a gunsmith, these guidelines should be observed.

Hunting safety

Whether using a rifle or shotgun, the rules for gun safety while hunting are not very different. Combined with the generic gun safety rules, they are designed to preserve the safety of you and your two-and four-legged hunting companions.

Before the Hunting Trip

Before leaving home, sight-in your firearm by practicing with the firearm and ammunition combination you intend to use during the hunt. “Sighting in” a rifle means you know exactly where the bullet will land when your sights are properly aligned.

During the Hunt
  Always point the muzzle away
from yourself and others
Know How to Carry a Firearm Safely
Here are common ways to do so:
Two-Handed or Ready CarryHere the rifle or shotgun is held with two hands and the muzzle is pointed up and toward the front. The firearm is in a semi- “port arms” position. The trigger-finger rests on the trigger guard.
Cradle CarryThe fore stock of the firearm is cradled in the crook of the non-trigger arm with the elbow bent. The trigger finger is kept off the trigger and resting on the trigger guard. Care must be taken that hunting companions are not in line with the muzzle, as the gun’s barrel is pointed directly to the side.
Trail CarryHere the firearm is grasped with one hand at a balance point approximately over the action and trigger. The muzzle points ahead and down. Do not use this carry if companions are walking ahead of you.
Elbow or Side CarryThe firearm is carried by one hand with the stock tucked between the elbow and body. This carry is not advised when walking through dense brush or when others are walking in front of you.
Shoulder CarryWith the fore stock resting on your shoulder, the muzzle of the gun should be pointed skyward. Do not use this carry if someone is walking behind you.
Sling CarryUsing a sling to carry the rifle or shotgun over the shoulder, both hands are free.

When walking side-by-side in a line across a field, hunters at either end of the line should use the cradle or side carry. Hunters in the middle should use either the side or two-handed/rest carry.

When walking in single file the leader may choose any of the carries with the exception of the shoulder carry where the muzzle points up and toward the rear. Hunters in the center of the line should use the two-handed or cradle carry. The last hunter may use the two-hand, cradle, sling, or shoulder carry.

Establish Zones of Fire

When hunting with companions, determine ahead of time the “zone of fire” or area within which each hunter will track and fire should game appear. Other hunters must not encroach on the zone of another hunter.

Shooting Positions

There are essentially four shooting positions





Gun Safety While Hunting from Boats

There is a safety-etiquette for handling firearms when hunting from a boat. First, place the gun that will be used by the hunter who will be seated in the bow of the boat into the boat, unloaded, with its muzzle pointing forward over the bow. Next, the first hunter takes his place in the bow. The second firearm, also unloaded, is set in the stern of the boat with its muzzle pointing rearward. While underway, keep the forward firearm from extending over the bow or gunwales (boat sides) so it doesn’t catch on brush or reeds. Anchor the boat before shooting. The hunters should always shoot facing in opposite directions.

Gun Safety While Hunting from a Pit or Blind

Before entering the blind or pit, lay the unloaded gun on the ground near the entrance. Once in the blind, retrieve the firearm taking care to keep the muzzle free of dirt, mud or snow. The same precaution should be taken upon leaving. Place the unloaded firearm outside the blind before attempting to leave it yourself.

Other Important Safety Rules
  • Positively Identify Your Target Before Shooting
  • When in Doubt, Don’t Take the Shot
  • Never Use a Scoped Firearm For Binoculars
  • During a Fall, Control the Direction of a Muzzle
  • After a Fall, Check Firearm for Damage or Barrel Obstructions
  • Know When to UnloadDuring, the hunt, unload before climbing a fence, a steep grade, a slippery slope. After the hunt, unload before returning to camp or your car.

During transport

Firearm Transport Laws and Regulations

Laws governing firearms transportation vary from state to state. Before transporting your firearm anywhere (even to the shooting range), be make sure that you are familiar with your own state’s regulations. When you are crossing state and local jurisdictional boundaries, you should always check with local and state authorities for the latest federal, state, and local Laws and regulations covering the transport of firearms.

Basic Safety Rules for Transporting Guns

These rules are especially important in all situations:

  • Never pull a firearm toward you by the barrel
    If you attempt to remove a firearm from an automobile, a boat, a duck blind by pulling it toward you by the barrel, the trigger could catch on some object and accidentally discharge.
  • Never pick up a firearm with your finger on the trigger

In addition, observe the following safety precautions:

  • Keep Your Firearms Unloaded
  • Place Your Firearms in a Protective, Locked Case
  • Secure Your Firearms So They cannot move about during Travel
  • When Using Public Transportation Check with the Carrier
    for added Regulations

Range Safety

Safety on the range depends upon everyone on the firing line observing firearms safety procedures. Shooting may be an individual activity, but safety is the common concern for all.

  Instantly obey firing line commands  

Informal Range Activities

Typical safety procedures used during informal range activities are:

The Range is Hot!This phrase, passed from shooter to shooter down the line on a range, indicates that no one is down range hanging targets or otherwise in the line of fire. Shooting can begin at the participants’ individual pace.
Cease Fire!When a participant asks for a “Cease Fire” that usually signals the desire to set up new targets or perform some activity in front of the firing line on the range. After each participant acknowledges the “Cease Fire,” all firearms are unloaded and set down with the actions open. Never handle a firearm on the firing line when anyone is downrange during a “Cease Fire.”
Ready on the Right! Ready on the Left!After all activity down range has been completed and all shooters have returned to the safety of the firing line, the question is asked if the line is “Ready?” The response signaling the conditions necessary before the range is “Hot” is to announce “Ready on the Left!” and “Ready on the Right!” At this point the phrase “The Range is Hot” is repeated by each shooter.
Formal Shooting CompetitionsCommon commands during formal shooting competitions include:
Is the Line Ready?At this point competitors signal whether or not they are prepared to begin the event.
Not Ready!This is the response of any competitor not yet prepared to shoot.
The Line is Not Ready!Command given by the range officer if all competitors are not finished their preparations.
The Line is Ready!Signal that all competitors are awaiting the signal to begin the event.
Load!Although the competitors are “ready,” their firearms are kept unloaded until the Range Officer gives this command.
Ready on the Firing Line!At this command, competitors relax and begin to control their breathing.
Commence Firing!This command speaks for itself. If during an event your firearm malfunctions, place the firearm with the muzzle in a safe direction (pointed down range) and signal the range officer.
Cease Firing!At this command, everyone stops. Actions of all firearms are opened. Every firearm is checked to insure that it is unloaded. Activity remains quiet until the range officer signals “Clear” indicating any malfunction has been corrected.

Safety Rules for Your Firearm’s Holster and Ammo Carrier

1. Always use a holster which is designed for, and which fits, your handgun.

2. Make sure your holster covers the trigger guard of your handgun.

3. Purchase a holster which allows you to obtain a secure grip on your handgun while it is still holstered.

4. Be sure the thumb break, safety strap, or other firearm retention device on your holster is functional and consistently employed. A good holster should retain your firearm during normal carry and routine physical activity, but no holster can insure that a firearm will be secure against determined attempts at disarmament, or keep a firearm secure during all possible physical activities.

5. Avoid clip-on holsters and magazine pouches. These carriers may fail to stay clipped to the belt and end up being drawn along with the firearm or the magazine they still hold, thereby interfering with use of the firearm or with timely reloading.

6. Avoid paddle-style holsters, cross draw holsters, and similar holsters which provide poor weapon retention.

7. Avoid ankle holsters, shoulder holsters and other types of holsters which can introduce unnecessary delays in accessing a defensive firearm.

8. Avoid carrying a defensive firearm in a purse, pocketbook, daypack or briefcase. A firearm carried in that fashion is:

* Typically hard to rapidly access due to the presence of slow-to-open zippers, multiple latches, etc.,

* Often hard to find and draw amidst all the other items routinely carried, since few purses or briefcases include a dedicated handgun-carrying compartment,

* Prone to being unavailable when needed, since briefcases, purses and other carriers are routinely set down or put away in a desk drawer where they may or may not be readily accessible and under your physical control,

* Unusually vulnerable to being stolen, since purses, pocketbooks, daypacks and briefcases are prime targets for purse snatchers, pick pockets, muggers and thieves,

* Prone to misfunction in an emergency since materials carried along with your handgun in a purse or brief case may gum up the firearm’s mechanism and potentially interfere with its proper operation, and

* Likely to allow your handgun to accidentally become visible to shop clerks, bank tellers or other parties while you are searching for your checkbook or locating a credit card, and that inadvertent exposure may potentially result in a tense situation or even a tragic over-reaction on the part of an individual noticing the firearm and/or summoning law enforcement officers to the scene.

9. Never carry a handgun tucked into your belt or waistband without a holster. A handgun carried in this fashion may be unintentionally dislodged, fall onto a hard surface and accidentally discharge or be damaged. Inside the waistband-type holsters will allow you to obtain the concealment of this type of carry while simultaneously providing vastly improved firearm retention.

10. Always employ a proper magazine holder or speed loader carrier to carry your spare ammunition. Select a design that secures and protects your speedloaders or magazines while still making them readily available for use. Avoid ammunition loops and ammo dump boxes.

11. Never put a partially empty magazine or speedloader back into a magazine carrier or speedloader pouch: only full magazines or full speedloaders belong in a carrier. Partially empty magazines or speed loaders should go into your pocket; empty magazines or speedloaders should be allowed to fall where they’re used during an emergency.

Safety Rules Related to Ammunition

1. Be sure your gun and ammunition are compatible. Shooting incorrect ammunition in a firearm may cause it to be damaged or even make it blow up.

2. Relying on ammunition which doesn’t feed reliably in your particular firearm may make your firearm malfunction at a critical juncture: get experience with a particular lot of ammunition in your firearm before relying on it for defensive purposes.

3. Use only ammunition recommended for your firearm by its manufacturer. Never fire ammunition which exceeds industry standard pressure specifications. Over-pressure ammunition will reduce the service life of your handgun, and puts you and those around you at risk of a catastrophic firearm failure.

4. Use reloaded ammunition judiciously. Be aware that many firearms manufacturers specifically forbid the use of reloaded ammunition in their products, and will void their product’s warranty if you elect to use reloaded ammunition in contravention of their instructions.

5. Carry only one caliber of ammunition when shooting. Accidentally grabbing the wrong ammunition while shooting can result in a shooter or third party being injured, or damage or destruction of a firearm.

6. Insure you carry sufficient spare ammunition for your defensive firearm, and make sure you carry it in a readily employable fashion (such as in spare magazines or in speedloaders).

7. Store ammunition that isn’t being used under lock and key, inaccessible to unauthorized parties and children.

8. Dispose of unwanted ammunition safely.

Safer gun technologies


  • Table 1: Enabling Technology for Fingerprint-Activated “Smart” Guns
  • Table 2: Electronic Gun Safety Technology
  • Table 3: Mechanical Gun Safety Technology

Table 1: Enabling Technology for Fingerprint-Activated “Smart” Guns

IMPORTANT NOTE: The inclusion of information in this table about a specific device does NOT mean that the device is available for use in a gun. Due to product liability concerns, no semiconductor company allows the use of its products in ANY health- or safety-related application — such as a gun — without the explicit written consent from the company’s senior management or Board of Directors.

Technologies Required to Make a Fingerprint SystemHow it worksSupplier(s) and Status
Fingerprint image sensorThere are two main types of fingerprint sensors – optical sensors and “chip” sensors. Optical sensors uses a lens and are much too big for use in a gun but generally give better images than chip sensors, are not affected by static and have a faster readout and larger scan area.Note: Special techniques must be used to obtain a fingerprint image from a live finger. A simple photograph does not work because the contrast between ridges and valleys is much too low to produce a good image.User places his/her fingertip upon the sensor so that an image of the tiny but distinctive ridges and valleys of the fingerprint can be captured and processed by an external image processor.The larger the area of the finger that is sensed, the more ridges and valleys are captured and the more distinctive the fingerprint is.The sensor itself cannot capture, process or verify images because it has no memory or processing capability. It is like a camera without film.At 500 dots per inch, a common resolution for the capture of fingerprints, it is common to have 64,000 or more, 8-bit picture elements or “pixels” to process.The amount of time to capture an image, the size of the sensor and thus the extent of the captured image and uniqueness of the fingerprint, the cost, the resistance of the sensor to damage, and the ability of the sensor to operate in different environments, all vary depending upon the sensor technology.Infineon “FingerTip Sensor” – Semiconductor “capacitive” sensor is about 15 x 20 mm, housed in a package about 30 mm square, sensitive to static discharge. At least 1/10 second is required to obtain a single image, and it is usually necessary to capture several, at 1/10 second each, depending upon the details of how an external processor knows when to capture an image. Approx. $25 in large volume. Available. A German company formerly known as Siemens Semiconductor. This sensor is reportedly being using in the external fingerprint module being used with the S&W “smart” gun prototype. It is evidently being used in an external module due to its large size. We do not know if Infineon has approved its use in or with a gun.
Image processorA processor operates under software control and receives raw image data from the fingerprint image sensor.Depending upon the software used, it: (1) completes the formation of a fingerprint image, (2) determines whether or not additional fingerprint images are required so as to have a quality image, (3) processes/enhances the image in preparation for extracting distinctive information from it, (4) extracts distinctive information from it, (5) compares that information to information about the fingerprints that are authorized to fire the gun, and (6) sends a signal to the mechanism that enables the gun to fire if the user is authorized to fire the gun.The entire task must be done extremely quickly, in less than about 1/10 of a second, if a “smart” gun is to be used normally, in the same way as an ordinary gun.General purpose digital signal processor (DSP) chips are made by Analog DevicesMotorola, Texas Instruments and others. These processors manipulate fingerprint images much too slowly for use in a gun since they generally only handle one picture element at a time, and many picture elements must be processed very quickly.
Fingerprint software for autonomous applications (operate without a PC)The rapid processing of fingerprints is fundamentally difficult because a large number of data points or picture elements must be processed, the images are complex and often corrupted, and there are many variables that affect the appearance of the print.It is relatively easy to make a standalone or autonomous (as opposed to FBI) fingerprint system work in the lab, but difficult to make it work reliably in practical applications.However, these problems can be overcome given proper sensors, sufficient processing power and sophisticated algorithms.A key variable in a practical fingerprint system is the location and orientation of a fingertip upon a fingerprint sensor. Most fingerprint sensors are built into a housing that tries to force the user to place his/her fingertip on the sensor in a particular way to minimize the number of variables that the fingerprint software, which processes the images, has to handle.In addition, the fingerprint system must deal with changes in a given fingerprint, such as from moisture, cuts, cracks, dirt and grease. These changes can obscure portions of the fingerprint, expand or contract the fingerprint, or create false details.Most fingerprint software extracts distinctive details called “minutia points” from the pattern of ridges in a fingerprint. Typical minutia points are the joining of two ridge lines, or the splitting or termination of a ridge line. When a live fingerprint is taken by the police, who generally capture the largest possible print, 40 or more minutia points are usually obtained from a single fingertip.The use of fingerprints for identification is considered highly reliable worldwide, and is widely and routinely used by the FBI.Most fingerprint software has been developed under the assumption that the amount of computer power available is quite limited.Mytec recently announced that they have developed a fingerprint module using an Infineon fingerprint sensor (see above) and their fingerprint software for use external to a prototype “smart” gun being developed by Smith & Wesson (see below). Several newspaper articles about their development seemed to credit Mytec for development of the sensor which is, in fact, made by Infineon. Other than saying that the fingerprint module is so large that it cannot be built into the handle of a gun, no performance specifications for the speed, accuracy or number of users of the fingerprint system were provided.

Table 2: Electronic Gun Safety Technology

Electronic TechnologyHow it would workSupplier(s) and StatusWorks withPrice US$
Fingerprint in handleHow it would work.Technical overview.Progress.Authorized user would pick up a gun, aim and fire, like with an ordinary gun, and with the same speed. One or more of the user’s fingertips would automatically land upon a specially designed fingerprint sensor that provides the high speed, ease-of-use and resistance to static required. The total time to activate the gun would be less than 2/10 second. One or more persons could use the same gun.User’s fingerprint would be quickly and automatically captured and verified within the handle of the gun so only authorized user(s) could fire the gun. Operation would be as foolproof as possible. Once enabled to fire, the gun could be fired until the owner lets go of it or runs out of ammunition. Each time the gun is picked up, a self-test circuit would verify the proper operation of the gun and confirm that sufficient battery power is available.Could only be built into new guns, but could also be built into new trigger locks, magazines, lock boxes and safes.Add $100 (est.) to retail price of gun.
Fingerprint in external moduleRef: The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27, 2000, page B1, “Smart Guns Trigger a Debate”: In a prototype, the user places a special fingerprint module about the size of the gun handle into the butt of a specially built gun. He then scans his fingerprint into the module. Once the user is authorized, the module is removed and the ammunition magazine can be inserted into the gun handle. Grip sensors detect that the user has a firm grasp to activate the weapon. A new type of electrically-fired ammunition is used.Comments: A problematic human interface is used. It requires a lengthy several-step process that requires two hands and a large removable fingerprint module to be able to use the gun.It is not clear: (1) how long it takes for a fingerprint to be processed, (2) how accurate, reliable and easy to use the fingerprint module is, (3) how many different fingerprints/users can be used, (4) how long the gun remains active once armed, (5) how a fingerprint is entered into the module, (6) how the gun becomes disarmed, (7) whether or not the operation of the module can be circumvented, (8) whether or not a gun can be stolen and used with another module, (9) how reliable the new ammunition and firing mechanism are, (10) how many shots can be fired on a set of batteries, (11) how one knows how much power is available to operate the gun and module, (12) what the requirements are for storage of the module, or (13) why a new and unproven type of ammunition, which is fired electrically, is used.Smith & Wesson Corp., Springfield, MA, tel. 800-331-0852, 100+ year-old gun company.Status: Prototype but not publicly demonstrated.Company is reportedly looking for Federal funding and has hired Washington lobbyists to try to get it. Incongrously, company has stated that personalized guns have a large market but it may drop the project if it cannot get government funding for it.According to a press release, module uses a “FingerTip” fingerprint sensor made by Infineon, a German semiconductor company.Comments:The construction and large size of this sensor appear to make it difficult to eliminate the separate fingerprint module and put the sensor into the handle of the gun. Furthermore, if the size of the sensor were reduced, the size of the fingerprint image would be reduced and it would be much more difficult if not impossible to distinguish one user from another.In addition, the primary innovation is apparently not the fingerprint technology but the use of an electronic firing mechanism instead of a conventional mechanical firing mechanism. As we understand it, the use of this electronic mechanism means that no firing pin strikes the bullet, removing a means for identifying which gun fired the bullet. This is contrary to the $65 million that the govt. is investing in technology to identify which gun fires a particular bullet used in a crime.Could only be built into new guns.Add $300 (est.) to retail price of gun.Reportedly at least two years from market.
Radio frequency in handle and wristbandGun user wears a wrist band containing a small radio transmitter. The transmitter sends a signal to a receiver in the handle of the gun to activate it.Colt Manufacturing Co., West Hartford, CT, tel. 860-244-1428Status: Abandoned. Colt has stopped manufacturing consumer products and split off a new company, iColt, to work on smart guns, but iColt has since closed.Could only be built into new guns.Not applicable
Combination lock in barrelGun user enters a combination into a series of pushbuttons beneath the barrel of a gun. Company says these guns are not really “smart” guns.SIG Arms Inc., Exeter, NH, tel. 603-772-2302Status: Production summer of 2000. Company is reportedly for sale.Could only be built into new guns.Guns cost $950.

Table 3: Mechanical Gun Safety Technology

Mechanical TechnologyHow it worksSupplier(s)Works with Price US$
Barrel block, cableCable with locking mechanism extends down barrel of gun, preventing it from being firedTrigger lock from Hodge Products, El Cajon, CA, tel. 800 778-2217Any gun$10 up
Trigger block, mechanicalBlock fits between back of trigger and trigger guard and is secured by padlockSaf-T-Block from Concept Development, Scottsdale, AZ, tel. 800 472-4405Any gun$20
Barrel block, rodMetal rod with locking mechanism extends down barrel of gun, preventing bullets from entering firing chamberChamber-Safe from Rocky Mountain Tool & Armory, Huntington Beach, CA, tel: 714 848-3234.Selected guns$30
Trigger block, magnetic, integratedInternal pin blocks trigger mechanism, and is released when user wears a magnetic ringMagloc from Smart Lock Technology, Richmond, BC, tel. 604 551-8492Selected guns$70
Trigger lock, detachedClamshell device fits over trigger mechanism, immobilizing it. Requires key or combination to open. In mechanical and electromechanical styles.Master Lock Co., Milwaukee, WI, tel. 414 444-2800; Speed Release, Dallas, TX, tel. 800 939-2311; Hodge Products, El Cajon, CA tel. 800 778-2217Any gun$10 up
Trigger lock, built-inSmall hex key with hollow end turns shaft in rear of gun handle to lock/unlock triggerTaurus Firearms, Miami, FL, tel. 800-327-3776Selected gun modelsvaries
Trigger lock, integratedCombination lock in gun grips prevents trigger from being pulledSaf-T-Lok, West Palm Beach, FL, tel. 561-478-5625Selected gun models$70
Hammer lock, mechanicalDevice prevents firing pin from coming in contact with bullet. Can sound alarm.Gunlock, Inc., North Haven, CT, tel. 203 239-5958Any gun$35
Removable hammerHammer can be removed then reinstalled quickly when gun is neededSaf-T-Hammer Corporation, Scottsdale, AZ, tel. 877 723-8426Many guns$50
Hammer lock, magneticMagnet in revolver frame prevents hammer from moving unless user is wearing a magnetic ringMagna-Trigger from Tarnhelm Supply Co., Boscawen, NH, tel. 603 796-2551Selected S&W gun models$250 plus $40 for a ring
Hammer lock, magneticMagnet in shotgun frame prevents hammer from moving unless user is wearing a magnetic ringShotguns from Mossberg, North Haven, CT, tel. 203-230-5380Selected modelsvaries
Hammer lock, magneticFulton Arms, Houston, says it will have a smart gun on the market in a matter of weeks that unlocks by reading a magnetic code, similar to the magnetic strip found on the back of a credit card. [Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1998]Fulton Arms, Houston, TX, claims to be inventor of term “smart gun”
Magazine lockCombination lock in pistol grip prevents bullets from entering firing chamberSaf-T-Lok, West Palm Beach, FL, tel. 561 478-5625Selected gun models$90
Chamber indicatorsVisual indication of whether or not a bullet is in the chamberWalther, BerettaSelected modelsvaries

4 Clever Hidden Gun Safe Options and One Bad Idea

Often the quickest and most convenient way to safely store guns is by buying a gun safe. However, there are many clever gun owners that have come up with surprising ways to conceal their firearms while safely storing them out of the reach of children and thieves.

We’ve got five ways listed below that can get your creative juices flowing too. While they many not be feasible for everyone, seeing examples of thinking outside the box (in this case, thinking outside of the safe!) can help you come up with your own custom hidden gun safes.

It can also help limit cost – some of these solutions provide extra protection (like building a safe into a closet wall). Others are more expensive than a standard gun safe (like the shipping container idea!).

Any way you decide to move forward, make sure that the guns are unable to be accidentally discharged by storing them without ammunition and storing ammo away from the guns. Also, if there are kids around or if you have a lot of visitors or parties, your storage solution absolutely must be able to be secured by a high quality lock. Finally, remember that your overall goal is the art of deception. What thieves can’t find, they can’t steal.

First up is this amazing soda machine converted to a gun safe submitted on reddit by user Hartf1jm, pictured below.

Where’s the gun safe, you ask? Exactly my point – you could never tell that there are guns stashed inside – check out all the images and explanation at this page. People buy soda machines all the time for nostalgic reasons, and to store their soda of course, so it’s not unusual that a person would have one in their home. Overall building a safe like this means that you are completely relying on deception to prevent theft of your guns, which is a huge upside, because most people would probably ignore the machine and look for valuables elsewhere. It is also an extremely frugal option – machines like these go on Craigslist for $50 to $100.

The major downside is that there aren’t any features such as a UL listed lock or thick steel walls that would prevent a thief from breaking in if he knew that there were valuable items inside. It definitely wouldn’t pass the basic Residential Security Container test, and person with a crowbar could be inside the machine in just a minute.

Our advice if you do decide to go with something like this is to never tell anyone that you don’t trust completely about it. Say you’re having a get together, and you want to show off your latest project on your workbench to some folks you met recently, and one of them looks across the basement and sees your soda machine, and asks if it actually works – just tell them it doesn’t, and don’t let on that it’s a safe. Many burglaries happen because the wrong person got just a bit of inside knowledge and took advantage.

Another option for someone looking for a cheap way to deceptively hide guns in plain sight is a classic – the old hollowed out book. While you may have disregarded it because it seems like something that only exists in cartoons, it actually is a legitimate option for storing a handgun. has a great detailed tutorial on how to make your own version of this “gun safe” here.

Now “gun safe” is in parenthesis for a reason – because it’s not a gun safe at all! There are multiple major disadvantages to this approach to firearm storage. First, if you live in California, it doesn’t meet the basic requirements of the Firearm Safe and Responsible Responsible Access Act, which requires that guns be stored in such a way that children could not have access to them. I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take my opinion as the truth on the matter, but it sure seems to me that a book on a shelf does not meet the requirements of the law.

Second, an experienced thief might know to look for this sort of thing, and it would be a simple and quick thing to quickly knock all your books on the ground to see what might fall out.

Third, it would be easy to accidentally knock your gun to the ground while trying to get a book off the shelf. This could lead to unintended discharge and injury, not to mention property damage.

Using hollowed out books seems feasible only if you own a small handful handguns at most and if you live alone with no visitors – but this is the bad option referred to in the title of this page!

An unusual but really good option for a hidden gun safe involves buying a gun safe and then building it into your home’s structure. Clever reddit user shikijiyu shows in this post how he went from this:

to this:

This is not only an attractive way to install a gun safe in your house, it actually increases security. Because this safe is stored in a tight place in a closet, a would-be thief is more limited in his options for getting into it. It’s much harder, if not impossible, to swing an axe properly in the tight quarters of a small closet. So, simple blunt force tools will not be as effective as they would be if the safe were out in the open in your basement. A thief with power tools still wouldn’t have too much of a problem sawing through the safe door, so if you decide to go this route, consider how you can better hide away any Sawzalls, circular saws, chainsaws, acetylene torches, or anything else that could be used to cut through metal.

This method is also deceptive as the safe door can be hidden behind stacked boxes and hanging clothing. It also allows you to create a solid wooden frame around the safe that you can bolt the safe to multiple times in multiple directions. Bolting the safe down from the inside is one of the most important things you can do for the security of your safe, so the more bolts the better.

Overall this option is more complicated and expensive than simply buying a gun safe, as you will have to either take the time to do it yourself or hire the job out. We’d recommend taking this on yourself for obvious reasons – the fewer people who know about your gun stash the better! Another drawback is that not everyone has closet space to sacrifice to a gun safe.

If you do choose to do something like this, the Snap Safe Super Titan is a great option because it has thick 8 gauge steel walls and because it’s modular. Because you can carry it up stairs in pieces and put it together wherever you want it, it’s more convenient than lugging a 500 to 1,000 pound safe up a flight of stairs!

Another option similar to this would be to build your very own gun vault:

The folks over at 3 acres and 3 thousand sq ft describe how they used some space in their basement to construct a gun vault from cinder block walls. The vault door was bought from a company that sells safe doors, although these can be found on eBay and occasionally Craigslist if you’re lucky!

The major advantages to something like this is obvious – it’s very secure and it’s huge! You’ll never run out of space to store guns and other valuables for sure!

If you choose to build something like this, though, be sure to consult a professional, even if you decide to build it yourself.

Last, but not least, is the most impressive hidden gun safe and unusual option – buying a shipping container and burying it in your backyard! If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s actually more common than you might think.

A container like this can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, which may surprise you because that’s the same price range as a quality gun safe! However, the cost goes up as this is a major construction project. First, you have to pay to have it shipped to your property. Then, you’ll have to dig a hole big enough for it and prepare a foundation. Then, you’ll need to create gabion baskets to surround the container to provide structural support so the walls don’t cave in and to provide drainage. Then, you’ll need to create a quality, locking, hidden access door. Then, you’ll need to find a way to dehumidify such a large space so your guns don’t rust. Is that enough steps to convince you that this is the most expensive option in this article?

There are some cool advantages to doing this, though. First, you have a nice storm shelter if you live in a part of the country prone to tornadoes. Second, you’ll have more than enough space for your guns – and probably more than enough space for a cool man cave. Third, if your access door to the container is well hidden, no thief would be thinking to look for underground gun storage.

Hopefully this helped get your creative juices flowing – there’s always more than one way to get things done, and this is never more true than with gun storage. Just be sure to use your head, stay safe, and keep your guns locked up and out of the hands of kids, and you should be good to go!

Most apt gun safes for your bedroom

You still pay quite a penny for a gun safe which you may open with tip of your pinky, however it is much better than it was a few years ago. In this post, I am mainly talking about bedside style safes, designed for pistols.More over, you may look into internet forum and web store reviews to figure out the experience of others using the product you are seeking.

Greatest bedside gun safe was created to suit underneath your bed or nightstand drawer easily. This kind of safe may be ideal for keeping handguns, and revolvers.A great bedside gun safe must be able to squeeze into any place, may be installed quickly, provide quick access to and do not take too much space.

Best bedsides gun

Gunvault speed vault sv500Electronic6.5 x 3.5 x 13$$Speed of access
Sentry Quick Access SafeElectonic6.6 x 9.7 x 2.2$$Quick access
Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol BoxMechanical6.5 x 5 x 9.5$$$Strong and sturdy

Gun vault speed vault sv500

A New Type of Vault

Of gunvault’s  many  safe available in market speed vault has been designed keeping primarily the ease and speed of access in case of emergency.Unlike the flat boxes , the SpeedVault is actually a vertical vault and not a horizontal one. Its has a dimensions of 6.5 x 3.5 x 13 inches.Because of its small size it can be mounted just about anywhere, from your closet to beside your bed and even in your vehicle.The hardware needed for mounting is included.

The flat boxes generally take a little bit of time to get into. That is one reason why so many handgun owners do not make the intelligent decision to place their guns in a vault, due to the length of time it takes to gain access to it.

>For more information details,price and reviews click here

The numerical keypad is one of the things that most users like most about this vault. The fact that you can quickly type in the private key code which then allows the gun to literally dropped down so that you can remove it, much as you would do if it was in a holster, is definitely a bonus. If you are uncomfortable using the code in front of someone, or if you make the mistake of forgetting the code, you can use the key to open the lock. There are not many spots on it that someone could pry the door open with. While you could not consider the safe burglarproof, it is definitely prevent minor prying attack. If you like to keep your gun in your close proximity and want something that allows you to have quick access to it, the Gunvault SpeedVault SV500 Gun Safe may be the perfect solution for you.

Sentry Quick Access Safe

A perfect small electronic safe free from all design flaws prevalent in typical electronic safe.Recently released in the market the safe has gained quite an attention because of the  above features.Ample amount of space to keep other valuables and very suitable to keep in your bedside drawer.

It uses an electronic lock with a back light, and there is no feed back. This makes it easy to get into this safe fast. It also comes equipped with an at the ready pistol presentation, so that no time is wasted fumbling for the gun when it is urgently needed.

>> For more details,price and reviews click here

Those who can’t find their key in the heat of the moment can also use the override key when they need immediate access to their fire arm. It is very small, and it only weighs one pound making it best suitable for smaller guns. Getting the gun is also very quiet, so it won’t compromise the safety of a person who needs to discreetly open this safe. There is a compression gas strut that keeps it quiet while the keys are being entered and it is opening.

This also lights up so that it can be used in the night when it is hard to see. It cannot be reset by sticking a paper clip into a slot.There are also holes that allow the gun to be screwed down. Also, those who use it need to remember that there is one button that must be pressed to activate the safe before the entry code can be keyed.

Fort Knox FTK-PB Pistol Box


Best bedside safes with biometrics

Biometric gun safes are the hottest items in the gun safe industry these days. In recent years, biometrics have been getting very popular in the tech industry with applications being found on laptops, PDA’s,  and smartphones; and are becoming even more popular every year.

There are a few reasons why people are turning to biometric gun safes to hold their firearms, with security being on the top. People are mainly buying biometrics because they don’t want to fumble with keys or are afraid others can find them.Other reasons people are turning to biometrics are speed, convenience and affordability.However one thing they overlook is that there in one common flaw in them which is that the real biometric security technology is not yet available at economic price.So although biometric safe look fancy they aren’t very reliable.

There are basically two kinds of biometric locks that are available on these safes-Capacitive and Optical.An optical take full image of your finger and matches the pattern with one in its memory.These may be quick but  has false rejection rate which on this price can come as compromised.

Other has capacitance sensor and records  capacitance changes through ridges and valleys of your finger when you swipe it on the sensor and matches with the programmed pattern.But with the quality that you get you may need to swipe multiple times for it to work.So they can not really be called quick access.

An optical reader like on locksaf and barska are economy fingerprint lock and can be (if not easily) opened if someone gets your fingerprint.Specially kids might want to experiment with it by making a prostate fingerprint like explained in the Defcon 19 video by Deviant Ollam, the blackhat group presenter for the locksaf safe.Others like Barska have been reported to false opened with false fingerprint if old print is not wiped off.

Also remember that they still are quite vulnerable to lock pick attack and pry attack,eg –Sentry and Gunvault safes have tubular locks which are easy to pick with tubular pick device.See handgun safe guide here.

If you are really looking for biometrics because you think it is better than you finding keys every time and it gives you relatively quick access consider the following options.

Sentry Safe Biometric Quick Access Pistol Safe

The Sentry Safe Biometric Quick Access Pistol Safe has a sleek design and weigh only 12 pounds. The allows access with  fingerprint , keypad or with the keys. Also, it has single hand access with its compression gas strut that allows you to open it without much hassle.Only two fingerprints may be stored at a time. Also, the keypad has zero audible feedback for those wanting keypad reassurance when entering the code.

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Gunvault Microvault XL MVB 1000 gun safe

Powered by one 9 volt alkaline battery, this 8 pound gun vault comes equipped with a biometric fingerprint system that allows you to store up to 120 different fingerprints. Each time you open the vault the system automatically adds new minutiae to lessen the chances of false rejection rates. It comes with a 4 foot security cable for added security. This safe however, is only powered by a 9 volt alkaline battery. Even though this case comes with extra pockets inside for added space, it is only made for fingerprint access or keypad access and not both in one single safe.

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Locksafe Biometric Pistol safe

Locksaf Biometric Gun Safe is one of the best compared to its competitors.It has an optical type fingerprint reader so it may be fooled with an image of your print fingerprint although it has shown no to do so in the test by blackhat hacking group .It was only defeated with a prostate skin like substance with fingerprint made using some molding compound.The backup lock is a cross type lock which is quite resistant to cross picks. So this can be kept in bedroom for self defense purpose but not so recommended if you have kids in house.

It weighs 22 lbs and manufactured with 9 gauge/3mm steel sheet.So it is heavy and sturdy compared to others.The lock is operated by a 9V battery and has two mechanical keys. Foam padding is perfectly designed to fit the guns or valuables inside the safe. The memory option of this safe can remember the fingerprints of 10 individuals. It has a backup in case the fingerprints do not work. Other than being biometric, Locksafe Biometric Gun safes claims to be somewhat fire proof, water proof although one should not expect much in this regard for a handgun safe like is the case with long gun safe.This safe also has foam padding inside to help keep your items in place. However the locking mechanism is not as instantaneous as one would hope. It is a bit lagging and also, there is a click when you open the safe so if you are also looking for something quiet to open this is not your safe.

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Best Under Bed Gun Safes

An under bed gun safe is a great idea for gun owners who have large guns, but limited space. It utilizes the valuable space under ones bed to contain these low and long storage units for rifles, handguns, and  other gear that owners would like tucked away,  and out of sight, but still quickly accessible. Though their aren’t many under bed safes on the market compared to the other gun safes available, the ones that are however, certainly do what they are meant for. Check out our list of the best under bed gun safes available today!
American Security Defense Vault (DV652)

This vault, made by American Security was specifically designed to be used underneath your bed. The DV652 Defense Vault is a safe that’s in a class of its own. It falls somewhere between the smaller gun cabinets and larger more secure gun vaults. It is meant for those who want another level of security, and speedy access, without the bulkiness of a large vault.

Quick access is usually provided with an electronic keypad, which the DV652 has.  It is designed perfectly for access in the dark because of its illuminating, back-lit keys. But what really sets this safe apart from nearly every safe that we have reviewed on our website, is its one-of-a-kind rail system. This safe is made of 14 gauge steel and sports a 5-point slide locking bar. After you unlock the DV652, drop down the door to reveal the foam-padded, slide out gun tray.

The space provided is decent, with the exterior measuring 52″ x 14″ x 6″. However, inside it gets a little tight providing just over 43″ x 13″ x 3″, With the height being somewhat of an issue. If you’re the type of person with a bunch of add-ons or modifications to your gun, and you don’t mind removing them before storage in this unit, then this is still a great vault to own. For those who have no problem with the 3″ head room, and are looking for an good under bed gun safe, then this American Security Defense Vault might be what you’ve been waiting for!

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Gun Casket Fast Opening Shotgun Safe

This under bed gun safe is made for those who prefer shotguns over other firearms. Its super slim design is what makes this gun case able to contain your favorite shotgun, and not much else. The Fast Opening Shotgun Safe made by Gun Casket  stands at 50″ long and stores most shotguns without any problem. It too has an electronic lock for fast access and is programmable for up to a six digit passcode.

It is a very simple under bed gun safe that looks great and is built strong. Available in silver or black anodized aluminum.

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