Staging firearms for home defense raises a number of important concerns that go well beyond the basic issue of defending oneself. One such issue is that of weapon security. A number of jurisdictions now require that weapons not “actually being used for home defense” (however that is defined) must be kept locked up. Further, placing weapons in or around unsecured locations — no matter how unlikely it is for someone to find them — makes them more readily available for theft when you’re away.
You will find that staging weapons for defense takes a fair amount of consideration. And that’s not only to comply with the law but also to ensure the safety of others who visit your home — or strangers who may someday fall victim to the criminal misuse of guns that were stolen from you.
What to Stage
First, not every defensive device you stage needs to be a firearm. A less-lethal device can buy you time to get to a firearm. A staged less-lethal option also gives you the ability to deal with threats that don’t justify the use of deadly force. Plus, theft of such a device is less of an issue than the theft of a firearm.
I have two firearms staged in our bedroom. One is close to the bed and in an electronic security vault. The other is staged in a lockbox in a tall dresser for my wife to obtain after I grab the one in the bedside vault. In addition, I keep a MAGLITE flashlight (which serves as an illumination and incapacitation device) near our sturdy front door. I keep a pepper spray can hanging inside the front closet. Both items are in proximity to the panic-alarm button. On an out-of-reach shelf in our kitchen pantry is a TASER Pulse. On a built-in shelf near the kitchen door that adjoins the garage is a TASER StrikeLight. Inside the garage itself is a Lousiville Slugger baseball bat. We have thus layered our home for defense without staging a gun in every room.
An Alternative to Staging Firearms
My family and I are blessed to live in a very low-crime neighborhood with watchful neighbors we consider friends. But not everyone can say the same. In fact, these days, probably most people can’t. If your living circumstances are different, an alternative would be to carry a firearm at all times — something many of us do anyway. I carry an ultralight deep-concealment handgun such as a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38. The Bodyguard, and other .38s, can be completely comfortable to carry all day while going totally unnoticed by others. Armed this way, I always have a handgun available if I need it (and a heavier handgun secured in the bedroom).
Closing Thoughts on Staging
The decision to and methods for staging firearms are as personal as selecting a defensive handgun. Much of what you decide will depend on your style of home, its layout, the family members residing with you and your neighborhood. If or how to stage can be decided by your own personal “security survey” — considering the possibilities of an invasion of your home and personal space. If you decide to stage multiple firearms, keep all the potential ramifications in mind.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.