Gun Safe Reviews Consumer Reports - With more children at home due to the coronavirus, experts say proper gun safety is critical. Here's what you need to know.
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Gun Safe Reviews Consumer Reports
Retailers say sales of rifles, shotguns, Tasers, pellet guns and pepper spray have surged in recent weeks as concerns about the coronavirus have grown across the U.S., with many buying these items for first-timers.
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Exact numbers on consumer gun sales are hard to come by, but statistics from the FBI's National Criminal Background Check System, which cover everything from handguns to rifles, are often used as a proxy for the gun market.
While the measure isn't perfect, tools sold by unlicensed vendors don't require background checks — and those checks hit an all-time high last month. The FBI processed 3.7 million background checks in March, the most in a single month since the system was introduced in 1998 and a 41 percent increase from March of last year. On March 20th alone, 210,308 background checks were conducted, an all-time high.
Sales started in early March and then "went through the roof," said Sean Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Firearms in Greenwood, Ind. "I think a lot of it has to do with people getting nervous. That's what I'm talking about. "60 percent of the people who bought in the last week or so own weapons for the first time."
According to Axon, which manufactures Tason products, sales of stun guns have also increased during the coronavirus epidemic. David Nance, CEO of pepper spray maker Saber, says Amazon purchases of his company's products have doubled. Pellet gun manufacturer Birna reports a 500% increase in sales.
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With anxiety high from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic toll, schools closed, millions of children at home and parents distracted by work and worries, Americans are facing a situation that some public health experts worry about.
"In the current climate, with people sheltering at home amid tremendous economic uncertainty and living near a lack of resources and rising unemployment, I fear an increase in gun incidents, injuries and deaths." Matthew Miller, a professor of health sciences and epidemiology at Northeastern University in Boston, is an expert on the public health effects of guns.
According to a 2018 study by the New England Journal of Medicine, firearms are the second leading cause of death in children after car accidents.
Consumer Reports heard from gun safety experts, firearms industry groups, gun store owners and public health officials to understand the current market and what consumers need to know about safe gun storage.
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The message to repeat: While the issue of gun and other home defense ownership is controversial, it is widely accepted that proper storage and safety techniques are essential if you purchase a gun or other weapon.
They include the Rifle Association, which describes itself as America's "preeminent gun rights organization" and says on its website: "Store guns so they can't be delivered to unauthorized people."
Bill Brassard, senior director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry group, said the best practice is to make sure all firearms are in locked storage and that ammunition is stored and locked separately. The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes this advice.
A common criticism of gun locks and safeties is that they can slow down response times in a self-defense emergency, Brassard said. "A lot of lock boxes open very quickly, giving the owner access to the gun, but not the child," he said.
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Research shows that gun owners don't always keep their guns safe. A 2018 survey by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that 54 percent of gun owners said they do not store their guns safely, leaving them in a holster or with a trigger or other lock.
This gun protects life despite studies showing safety and other precautions. According to a May 2019 study in JAMA Pediatrics by Miller and colleagues at Harvard and Boston Children's Hospital Northeastern, gun deaths from youth suicides and accidental shootings could drop by nearly a third.
Miller's previous study found that about three-quarters of first- and second-graders knew where their parents kept guns, and about a third said they had disposed of them.
Secure tool storage can help prevent the biggest threat to data: suicide. Of the 39,740 American deaths in 2018, 61 percent were suicides and 35 percent were homicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other gun deaths include accidental shootings and legal interventions, such as those shot by law enforcement.
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According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 85 percent of people who try to kill themselves with a gun die, compared to 3 percent for the other most common methods.
Experts say proper gun storage can make a difference. "Most suicidal behavior is emotional," says Dr. Edmond Shenassa, FT, assistant professor of family sciences at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park.
"Not having immediate access to a gun, which is the most lethal and irreversible means of suicide, certainly reduces the likelihood that the gun will harm itself."
There are several ways to secure a gun. Federal law requires firearms sold by retailers or manufacturers to have a locking device, such as a gun lock, but these requirements do not apply to other types of firearms.
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These locks typically use a cable or bolt attached to the lock to control the mechanism inside the tool. The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides gun locks to local law enforcement for people who obtain guns from private sales or from friends or family and distributes them free to the public through its Project ChildSafe program. (Local police departments can provide additional information.)
According to Brassard, wire locks fit most rifles, but may not work on some barrels, such as double-barreled or shotguns. These firearms use a trigger lock to prevent the gun from going off. But Brassard recommends a wire lock whenever possible because it requires disassembling the gun while loading, adding an extra layer of security.
However, his group encourages gun owners to use a lock box or safe, as a gun lock does not prevent someone from stealing the gun. Many storage units can be folded down for additional storage. And they can be small enough for a pistol or large enough for a long rifle or multiple guns.
Gun safes use a variety of locking mechanisms, including keys, mechanical or electronic combination locks, and biometric fingerprint sensors.
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According to Project ChildSafe, lock boxes cost between $25 and $350. Gun owners who need a large safe with room for a variety of weapons, including rifles and shotguns, typically pay between $200 and $500. There are also storage devices available for cars, ranging in price from $250 to $500.
Similar storage instructions apply to other tools and home protection products. Axon, the manufacturer of Taser products, recommends "taking all necessary precautions to keep the device out of the reach of children, such as storing the weapon in a safe or other protected location."
The same goes for pepper spray or other tools. "Consumers are safest if they keep all their weapons, such as pepper spray, stun guns and knives, in locked areas, like drugs and medicine," says Shenassa, of the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Health.
Currently, there are no federal safety standards for gun safety. The industry relies on voluntary standards set by the likes of ASTM International and UL, and gun safety standards set by the California Department of Justice.
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Several products were pulled, including the Alpha Guardian Stack-On Sentinel gun safe and the Harbor Loader electronic pistol. If you're looking to buy a gun safe used, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to make sure it hasn't been returned.
Some experts prefer safes with features such as biometrics because they ensure that only the gun owner or an authorized user can open the safe and that it can be opened quickly.
Others, like gun safety enthusiast Dave Getzinger of Eugene, Ore., recommend gun safes "made of heavy-duty mechanical push-button locking steel."
Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, many brick-and-mortar stores have closed, and some retailers are still stocking guns online. Gun safe maker Liberty Security, for example, said it plans to continue deliveries during the pandemic, as have some smaller operations, such as Oceania, Calif.-based high-security gun maker Titan Vault.
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Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 25, 2020 and has been updated to include the latest information about the FBI's National Criminal Background Check System. The review team is committed to giving honest, objective and independent reviews of home products.
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