Straight Shootin’: Use it (responsibly) or lose it
By Eric R. Sonnenberg
In the wake of the recent accidental shooting of a 5-year-old girl by her 8-year-old brother, I was interviewed by WREX-TV Channel 13 regarding gun locks and how to keep a gun secure in the home. I recapped the various ways to safely keep a gun in your house, like gun safes and cabinets, keeping them in a locked drawer or room with a dead bolt, locked gun cases, internal and external gun locks, etc. What I also should have done was make an appeal directly to the kids.
KIDS, if you find a gun or anything that you even think may be a gun, DO NOT pick it up, DO NOT touch it. Leave it right where it is, and immediately go get your parents, a police officer, your teacher, or some other responsible adult, but DO NOT TOUCH IT! Be smart, be safe. Thank you.
ADULTS, if you have a gun in your home that you cannot secure or if you, do not have a valid FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) card enabling you to legally own a gun, get rid of it. Even if you have it secured or can legally own it, if you don’t want it or aren’t able or inclined to use it, get rid of it. You can turn it in to any police department, no questions asked. You do not have to wait for a gun “buy-back program.” You can also call an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) gun dealer like myself, and I will buy it, or I will correctly dispose of it if it is not in working condition and not serviceable.
You do not need a FOID card to sell a gun. You do need a FOID card to buy a gun, but you do not need a FOID to sell it. I buy guns all the time from people whose FOID cards have expired or from widows whose husbands have passed away, and they don’t know what to do with the firearms.
If you do want to keep a gun, make sure it is not accessible to children or anybody else who shouldn’t have it. If you can’t afford some way to secure it safely, give me a call, and I will supply you with a gun lock at no charge.
I know that if you are keeping a gun for home defense or personal security, it won’t do you much good if it is not loaded and easily accessible to you. When a bad guy comes busting through your door, you can’t tell him, “hang on a minute, let me go unlock my gun and load it, and then I will be right with you.” That, of course, is simply not realistic. The bottom line, though, is that if you have children or anybody else in the home who should not have access to a gun, you have to make sure they cannot get their hands on it. Safety is the first rule of gun ownership.
This is the second time in the Rockford community in the last year or so that children playing with guns has resulted in a child being shot. Nobody, not even gun rights activists or gun dealers like myself, want to see a tragedy like this happen again. As anybody knows who has read my column in the past, I am a passionate supporter of the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms, but I am also an advocate of personal responsibility. I know there are always going to be some individuals out there who simply cannot or will not be responsible, so there is no way in a free society we can guarantee a tragedy like this will not happen. I also don’t believe the irresponsible acts of a few should threaten the rights of the masses. But we do need to be vigilant and do everything in our power to exercise our rights responsibly. If we do not, we ultimately risk losing that right altogether.
Eric R. Sonnenberg is a Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer who owns Forest City Firearms, 137 N. Chicago Ave., Rockford or online at www.forestcityfirearms.com. He can be reached at (815) 262-4279 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the June 9-15, 2010 issue
Print This Article