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A gun for self defense - is it safe?

Gun dealers go to great lengths to make their stores accessible to customers - they hang signs on the door, they hire friendly sales clerks, and they place ads n local publications. Then a new customer walks into the shop and the first thing they see is a clerk with a pistol on his hip - that can be a little intimidating!

In order to lessen this "gunslinger" image, many gunshop owners choose to place guns in strategic locations around the store, but that brings up some different questions. This month, security expert Massad Ayoob takes a look at his method of defending your store.

Securing a shotgun behind the counter can give your employees a powerful weapon against armed robbery, but will they be able to reach it in time? Placing a revolver in your cash drawer is another option, but that may lessen your experienced employees' confidence in their ability to respond to armed threats.

If the decision is made that loader guns will be kept in strategic places inside the gunshop instead of arming each employee, several things need to be considered.

First, while a gun an individual carries can be the gun best suited to that individual's attributes and performance level, a "storage gun" needs to have universal attributes that make it reasonably effective in the hands of any employee who should need to access it.

Second, limiting access to self-defense guns by storing them in certain locations means that in some parts of the store employees have access to protection and in some parts they don't.

Third, if an employee is taken hostage or forced to carry heavy containers of stolen guns and/or ammo outside they are totally remote from the ability to fight back. There are no guns stored in the parking lot.

Finally, guns stored in one location cannot always be monitored by store personnel. A customer, a perpetrator, or even someone's child who gets behind the counter has access to the loader firearm. In terms of both tactics and liability, this is a serious problem.

Let's look at the ramification of the above concerns. If the gun is secured where no one but the staff can reach it, it's probably in a position where no one including staff can reach it. Thus, it fails to perform its intended function.

A gun in a fixed place assumes that the store employee will be in that fixed place when the need for the gun arises. That's not always the case.

Assume that the armed robber has entered. posing as a customer, and asks a question about a gun on the sales rack on the far wall. Once he has the employee there, the robber draws his own weapon and announces his intentions. If the robber is smart enough to keep the employee at discreet gunpoint throughout the rest of the robbery, the employee may never have a chance to get at the stored defensive firearms.

The likely storage locations include the safe and the cash registers- places where money is kept. If the robber has any experience in his trade, he knows that these are high-risk storage locations for guns that might be used against him. He is most unlikely to drop his guard and give the employees an opportunity to grab a gun.

Lowest Common Denominator

If the storage gun must be one that the last capable employee can use, it follows that it is not the most efficient weapon that the most highly trained and skilled staffer can use.

Let's assume you have two employees, Bob and Joe. Bob used to work for a rifle and shotgun manufacturer and he knows all the ins and outs of sporting long guns, their ammunition and the sports they are designed for. However, Bob doesn't know squat about handguns. You figure he can handle a .38 Special revolver. Bob becomes the baseline.

Also working for you is Joe, and IPSC shooter and ex-cop. Joe is competent with any gun he touches, and he does his best with a "cocked and locked" .45 auto. That's where most of his practice is. However, you've just limited him to a .38 revolver.

Guess what? You just short-changed Joe. If Bob and Joe each had their own gun that they were proven competent with, the .38 revolver for the one and the .45 auto for the other, you would have gone competence across the board among and competence across the board among your work force.

Remember, your employees know that some guns work better than other in highly skilled hands, and that some people are highly skilled and others are not. You've just given a vote of non-confidence to the employees who might otherwise have been able to smother a criminal threat to innocent life and limb in your gunshop.

A policy that allows each member of the staff to carry his or her chosen firearm - within reason - allows everyone to find their own balance of confidence and competence which flow together to determine one's ability to meet crisis. If Bob doesn't feel comfortable with anything bigger or more complicated than a .38 and had to work with Joe's more powerful, complicated, cocked-and-locked .45 he might hesitate long enough to get himself and other killed. With the .38 he is competent and confident, and he can be expected to meet danger with an authoritative and unhesitating response.

Joe, on the other hand, may feel insulted by being armed with century-old "keep it simple, stupid" technology, and may lack confidence with the .38 caliber weapon. He may also have shot so much with his .45 auto that he doesn't feel confident with the double-action revolver mechanism. This, also, can produce lethal hesitation and uncertainty in a moment of truth.

By letting each authorized, approved member of the staff carry the gun he or she is most competent with, numerous advantages translated into action. Each employee has the gun he or she know how to use. He or she can access such a weapon instantly in any situation at any time.

Hiding guns around your shop may sound like a sensible solution to an unlikely threat, but when trouble presents itself, you may find yourself and your employees in more danger than if no guns were available at all. If your employees don't wear firearms on the job, encourage them to do so for their own safety if not for the safety of the shop. If you don't allow them to carry their own personal weapons, give some consideration to changing that policy.
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Title Annotation:Lethal Force; the strategic placement of guns for security
Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1992
Words:1091
Previous Article:The legend lives on.
Next Article:Looking at scopes.
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