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What is Safe Enough Storage for the Pittsburgh Police?

A strongly anti-NRA screed was published in Pittsburgh today by a member of the Pittsburgh Police Department who says that NRA members “abet gun violence.” Sure, I could fisk the piece paragraph by paragraph. But instead, something struck me in his complaints about NRA’s stance on mandatory storage that struck me as too extreme for many gun control groups.

In 10 years of focusing exclusively on gun crime, I can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, those cases in which a firearm was stolen despite being properly stored in an immovable safe. The NRA is surely aware that stolen guns are a huge problem, yet at this weekend’s convention you would be unlikely to see much emphasis on the importance of securing one’s firearms to prevent them from being stolen and used in crimes. After all, you are only required to be a law-abiding gun owner; the government can’t require you to be a responsible one.

I lived in a state with mandatory storage laws, and I lived in an apartment. If the requirement had been as strong as this officer suggests, I would not have been able to own a firearm even though I was a woman living alone in the only available housing I could afford on a non-profit salary just out of college. First, I would not have been able to afford a full-sized safe. Second, I may have faced restrictions on something that large and heavy in my apartment. (It should have been fine, but it was in a building dating back to the mid-1800s.) Finally, even if I could afford something big and heavy, I could not have made it “immovable,” which presumably means that the safe must be bolted into the floor.

Until I moved in with Sebastian, I have never lived in anything but apartments since I moved out of my mother’s home after high school, and I only occasionally hired movers to load my stuff into a truck with only my 55+ mother to help. Just what options would be available to me under the Joseph Bielevicz policy of mandatory storage? I couldn’t install anything that would do permanent damage, so that limited me to small safes that were never bolted to the floor. Under his standard, I would not have been allowed to legally own a gun. If that’s the policy that the Pittsburgh Police Department supports, that puts them outside of the mainstream of gun control groups. Not even the Massachusetts law is that extreme. This kind of policy is really just targeted at the poor who don’t own a home or who can’t afford expensive safes.

Oh yeah, and there’s the pesky fact that he left out that the Supreme Court already tore apart the arguments for mandatory storage in Heller. The fact that this officer is calling for unconstitutional policies that discriminate against the poor is simply appalling. It’s one thing to educate about the importance of protecting your firearms and preventing them from falling into unauthorized hands, it’s another thing to hinge the fundamental right of gun ownership and self-defense on whether the person can afford the kind of safes that Detective Bielevicz considers appropriate.

Also, if the Detective would, you know, actually investigate the facts around the NRA convention, he’d find that there are numerous safe & other gun storage vendors there – Liberty, Cannon, Champion, Remington, and some company whose name I can’t remember that makes a really awesome circular safe. I took pictures last year, but I don’t think I posted them. But facts get in the way of him beating his chest about more gun control, and that’s just not nearly as much fun.

19 Responses to “What is Safe Enough Storage for the Pittsburgh Police?”

  1. David says:

    Most gun owners I know own safes. I’m the proud owner of an 800lb liberty model. I don’t think this guy knows the difference between a gun owner and a gang banger.

  2. Adam Z says:

    Interesting…what would be more interesting is if the Post- Gazette would publish a completely differing opinion from the Detective? Say someone from the Pittsburgh area e-mailing an opinion letter to the Gazette and at least incorporating the points that you have made here, if not more of them.

    A well balanced journalistic view point from a reputable publication, news broadcast should do that sort of thing, correct?

    Would the Post-Gazette publish such a letter if it was written from a Pittburghish or any other type of reader? Or any they as one-sided as the Washington Post and NY Times? Things that make you go hmmmm….?

  3. FatWhiteMan says:

    I seem to recall more than a few booths at both Louisville and Charlotte that were concerned with anti-theft.

    In fact, the last such item I purchased was a locking, portable gun vault and I bought it at the Annual Meeting in Charlotte last year.

  4. Thirdpower says:

    This individual has a long history of supporting measures to make firearm ownership as expensive and difficult as possible.

    • Bitter says:

      My bad! I didn’t think we ever got around to covering them even though we spent a chunk of time checking them out.

  5. BurghGunOwner says:

    The issue is, in part, guns safes. But a larger issue is the Pittsburgh Police Department which IMHO has a strong reputation, along with the Mayor, of being *against* private ownership of handguns. (And even more against, if that’s possible, concealed carry).

    Several Pittsburgh Police Officers were loudly bragging, within earshot of others, that *(they) were going to be in charge of security at the NRA convention*. And if someone had a concealed weapon, the gun owner would be told to *turn his a** around and put the gun in the car*.

    So the fact that a Pittsburgh Police detective didn’t quite get it right does not surprise me. When it comes to legal and responsible gun ownership the facts don’t seem to mater.

  6. Ed says:

    Title 18 Pwbsylvania Consolodated Statutes
    Chapter 53 – ABUSE OF OFFICE
    § 5301. Official oppression.
    A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, knowing that his conduct is illegal, he:
    (1) subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights;
    or
    (2) denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity.

    Well to have a crime we need ciminal intent and an action. This Detective has the criminal intent covered. I wonder how many actions we do not know of.

  7. illinois voter says:

    Look into what your state requires of its Leo’s on duty weapons storage and see if proposed new laws are more stringent.
    I have a relative working in Federal enforcement and the agency issued them a handgun safe which could be purchased at cabelas today for under $80.

    Im just saying an example of what our Federal Government saw as sufficient storage was a cheap metal box with a few push buttons on it.

  8. Weer'd Beard says:

    This is just the anti-gun version of the anti-woman “Well she wouldn’t have been raped if she had dressed less slutty”

    Also I’ll add the same argument could be made for prescription drugs. When my wife had brain surgery she was prescribed some opiate pain killers. Was I in the wrong keeping them in the bedroom where my pain-inflicted wife was, rather than in an immobile safe because that’s how junkies get their pills to pop.

    This is all about banning guns. Not all guns, but if you can get rid of young and/or poor gun owners that’s less gun owners to deal with.

  9. toyboy says:

    The fact that everyone here focuses on the nitty-gritty details of that article (where exactly the author said to store a gun, why not apply same argument for drugs,…) suggests that you at least agree that there is a problem with stolen guns being used in crimes – or I would think that you would attack this main point of the article. It’s a shame that NRA members here seem more concerned that someone is going to take away their toy than how to be responsible with a deadly weapon. In stead of arguing that not everyone can have a safe installed in their home (and somehow concluding that this is the author’s call for “unconstitutional policies that discriminate against the poor”…) – think what you CAN do to reduce the risk of your gun getting stolen. There is a big grey zone between leaving your gun flying around (eg in your car) and having a safe installed in your home. Use your… what that rare thing called…oh yeah: common sense!
    Plus, to give the point of the article a “face”- and to add to the selective reading some seem to have done on Bielevicz, you should read this article as well: http://www.postgazette.com/pg/06197/706230-85.stm

  10. Ian Argent says:

    One of the reasons I am going to the convention is to shop for some safe storage options. Yeesh

  11. Guest says:

    I think a safe is a terrible place for a gun.
    I’m not gonna repeat the Justices’ Heller comments, but if I ever choose to voluntarily disarm myself, the last place would be in my own home!

  12. Weer'd Beard says:

    +1 Guest. If you collect guns, and have a lot of money invested in firearms as a collection or as investment, or as heirlooms, a quality safe isn’t a bad idea.

    That being said your home defense weapon should be quickly accessible, and that includes while you’re still half-asleep at 3am.

  13. Thirdpower says:

    toyboy:

    If you would do a little research on the good detective, not only are many of his ‘facts’ flat out nonsense, but he believes that putting the onus on victims of crime to report stolen firearms (hence creating more criminals) will deter criminals from breaking the law (straw purchases) in the first place.

    Get that? He thinks someone willing to break one law will suddenly stop because ANOTHER law was put into place.

  14. Link P says:

    Thirdpower has excellent points, although some links would rock. :-)

    BurghGunOwner, who if memory serves was the only poster in the original Primanti’s thread whose name referenced Pittsburgh and wasn’t a complete troll, nailed it!

    Pittsburgh is a Democratic town, and if the Democrats say turn in your guns, the Pittsburgh sheeple get right on it. As a former Pittsburgher myself, augmented by BurghGunOwner, we all don’t dance to that beat. Unfortunately he is right; there is a lot of ground to be gained in this town, starting with their MAIG boy/mayor, Luke Ravenstahl on the unemployment line.

  15. TS says:

    These type of safe storage laws are complete prohibition for some people- particularly those who live in urban apartments. Who is to say a safe is always the best answer? For one, a safe says to thieves, “I have something valuable that you want”. I good hiding spot could be a better deterrent for single handgun owners. I don’t own a safe, though I plan to when the situation is right. These people want to disarm me- though they claim to only be after the criminals.

  16. Guest says:

    Weer’d Beard,
    I do collect guns and they are insured, as are my cars.
    I happen to like to look at them.
    BTW, my near neighbor had a safe in his basement. Neither he nor his wife knew the combination (it was there when they bought the house and they were told that there was nothing in it).
    Two gun-wielding crooks came in, told them to open it, beat them both, shot the man in the head (he survived), poured alcohol on the wife and set her on fire (she survived too).
    There’s more to the story, but bottom line, they could have attacked i.e a baby-sitter, teenage children or anyone else in that house when the parents were away.
    Safes are not all what they are cracked up to be…

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