On The Safe Side


The surge of people taking to gun shops like yours to find a means of arming themselves continues to flow. In the U.S., we’ve viewed all-out chaos in some areas, defunded police and a general populace of angry citizens — at least, what’s portrayed by the mass media. These events have indeed struck fear into many minds. As a result, people realize a need to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Four Rules” Or “10 Commandments?”

While a gun is used as a device to ensure safety, you and I know there are additional factors to this safety issue. The Four Rules of Firearm Safety always come to mind when I meet or train a new gun owner — but do you remember the 10 Commandments of Gun Safety we used to teach?

Various organizations have the gun owner’s commandments listed differently; there are details changed here or there. Over the years, we’ve found it better to streamline the safety rules with four that are less challenging to memorize. If you had to memorize the Ten Commandments in catechism class you know what I’m talking about; it’s a lot to remember and even worse when they’re listed differently everywhere you look.

Even though there may be ambiguity in the 10, I teach the four rules and add the 10 during my hunter education courses. There are lessons to be learned from the longer list. As I teach, I relay information and recount stories of incidences.

One story I share about how I came to the firearms industry incites gasps from students; it’s a tale about safe storage.

Dad taught me firearm safety and how to shoot when I was 5 years old. It may sound like a young age, but my older brother was learning to hunt and Dad didn’t want me to be curious about the guns, so he included me, also.

In my teen years, my parents divorced and my mom and I lived in San Diego. One day my cousin and I walked home from school and saw police tape around a friend’s yard. We learned the boy who lived there had a friend over, and the pair found an unsecured firearm.

Neither of the youngsters had learned about firearms — tragedy struck that day as one of the boys violated every firearm safety rule.

Education is a proven means of making people safer, and this is how I began sharing gun knowledge.

Browning Pro Series TLR30

Steelhead Outdoors Nomad 26

Your Due Diligence

Certainly, you’ve seen numerous customers who needed to learn how to handle a firearm, and you’ve pointed them to a qualified instructor for basic training. Additionally, you’ve done due diligence to make sure there’s a gun lock with each firearm you sell.

Since 2005, federal law has required you, an FFL, to sell every handgun with a secure gun storage or safety device (in most cases, firearms come with a gun lock). In some instances this is enough for a buyer, but I see an opportunity for you to earn a customer’s trust and teach them about their options while keeping add-on sales in mind.

Remember, gun owners have to ensure they’re following local, state and federal regulations for possessing and storing firearms. Long-time gun owners may already have gun safes and gun locks. However, first-time gun owners may not know storage rules beyond the lock that comes in the box with their new gun.

Mandating Storage Requirements

New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California have had storage laws on the books, and this year Oregon and Colorado joined their ranks. 

April 19, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed HB-1106 into law. The bill “requires firearms be responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.”

Tim Brough, owner of Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply (RMSS), in Fort Collins, Colo., visited with me to discuss what the state’s new bill means for gun owners.

He started, as most Coloradans do, “The law is vague. Does it mean locked up in my house is okay? If not in my house, can I just put them in a glove box in my car and lock my car?”

“Education is a proven means of making people safer.”

Due to the law’s ambiguity, Brough doesn’t foresee a surge in buyers looking for safe storage options alone.

Colorado’s HB-1106 “safe storage law” creates the offense of unlawful storage of a firearm if a person stores a firearm in a manner that the person knows, or should know: “That a juvenile can gain access to the firearm without the permission of the juvenile’s parent or guardian; or A resident of the premises is ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law. In either of these instances, the unlawful storage of a firearm is a class 2 misdemeanor.”

Beyond federal rules, HB-1106 requires licensed gun dealers to provide with each firearm, at the time of a firearm sale or transfer, a locking device capable of securing the firearm. Transferring a firearm without a locking device is an unclassified misdemeanor resulting in a fine between $250 and $1,000.

Some citizens are concerned requiring a gun to be stored in a certain way won’t save lives and will make it more difficult for people to defend themselves. Be prepared to help your customers with storage options that allow them to abide by laws and still have quick access to their firearm(s).

The SnapSafe One-Gun Keypad Vault has pre-drilled mounting holes and features
a programmable 4–6-digit keypad code, which provides optimum security and quick
access. It measures 3.6"W x 13.5"H x 7.5"D, and weighs 8.8 lbs.

Handling Elevated Demand

RMSS is the top seller of safe storage options in Colorado. Although they haven’t seen a surge in safe sales alone, an increase has coincided with the number of newbies purchasing guns.

“Under ‘normal’ times, we would maintain 50 to 80 long-gun safes in stock; now we’re lucky to have 20,” Brough shared.

As a solution to meet the high number of gun sales, RMSS brought more manufacturers into their store than they usually keep on hand.

“Typically, we would only carry three to four manufacturers,” Brough said. “With the increase in gun sales, we’ve added to the list just to try to keep an inventory of safe storage products.”

RMSS has always stocked numerous long-gun and handgun safes. With newer gun owners normally buying handguns, the store continually keeps an inventory of small safes on hand. Brough shared Liberty, Browning, Winchester, Sports Afield and AMSEC are the brands they typically carry.

Common Questions

When someone comes in to purchase a safe, pricing aside, Brough shared the most common question he faces.

“The first and foremost question we get is about the fire ratings,” he conveyed. “I think it’s because the industry markets ‘fire rating’ better than some other features.”

When you’re stocking and selling safes, point out the quality of the steel and the locking mechanisms. These are often points for price objections. Additionally, share details about accessories that come with the safes.

“Accessory items depend on the person. For example, lights are pretty common, and electronic locks may be even more popular,” Brough noted.

Biometrics is an accessory quick to move a safe’s MSRP to the top-tier of pricing, but there is a desire for the feature. Brough has found, innately, “techie” customers always want the best/latest technology available. So, he offers it as an option for this group of buyers.

Liberty Safe HD-50 Key Vault

Modularity Key

I recently met Corey Meyer of Steelhead Outdoors at an industry conference. I saw his safes standing stoically near the front of his tent. As I admired the rustic brown color and digital locking mechanism, I overheard the word “modular.” The word intrigued me since I’d just scraped, bent and scratched multiple safes moving to a new residence.

Meyer reminded me renters might not have the exact needs of a homeowner. While an owner can bolt items to the floor, drive tractors across the yard and cut holes into walls, a renter doesn’t have that liberty.Consider carrying various sizes and styles of safes, both for the homeowner and for the college student or renter.

The modularity of a safe had never been an option I’d considered, so I asked Brough what he’s seeing as the top need buyers request in-store.Of course, price is always a factor.

“Generally speaking, for the new gun buyer, they’re looking for something efficient and inexpensive,” he advised.
I noted the industrial-rustic look of the modular safes displayed at the conference.

“A gun safe doesn’t have to be ugly or sit in the garage where neighbors easily view it,” said Meyer. “Smaller and modular safes allow you to place your gun safe anywhere in the home or business.”

Capitalize On Impulse Buys

In my journeys, I’ve found handgun and long-gun safes are popular. I have a console vault, long-gun safes, gun locks and locking compartments in my truck.

However, I have interest in wall and floor safes, hidden storage art or picture frames and furniture safes. I just haven’t seen them in my local gun store — maybe it’s something your shop would find interest in carrying, so someone like me will make an impulse buy when stopping in for targets or a cleaning kit. There are a lot of us out there ready to buy!

Click To Read More Shooting Industry September 2021 Issue Now!