A controversial article posted this month at www.guns.com titled “Down and Dirty Solutions to Hiding your Handgun (At Home Edition)” has raised many eyebrows and caused a certain gun manufacturer some embarrassment. Originally posted on the website’s “Partnered Section” during the last week of May with input and sponsorship from Beretta, the article claims to be the first “in a series on basic techniques and methods to keeping your handguns concealed and safe in any environment.” Concealed from whom, you ask? According to the article, from children, thieves and government “jackboots.”
While briefly mentioning the option of gun safes and locking devices—both industry standards for proper firearm storage—the article quickly advanced to more creative recommendations that allow owners to “sidestep the access/security paradox.” A few of the more interesting ideas include storing a handgun in your toilet bowl, linen closet, refrigerator, or on your front doorknob (in case your house guests are potential perpetrators, perhaps).
The article also encourages home and furniture renovation. One suggestion involves putting a hole in your drywall and resealing it with your gun mounted inside. Other handyman projects include dismantling a hollow trophy, customizing cabinets or drawers with additional paneling, and creating space on the underside of a couch to mount a handgun.
The author of the article, Will Carey, expressly thanked Beretta, saying, “If you liked this article you should know that the good folks at Beretta were instrumental in helping Guns.com put it together, so if you want to show your support for them and for us, check out their latest innovations in shooting apparel at the Beretta store including some of the most stylish and inconspicuous concealed carry friendly clothes on the market.” Generally, sponsored content that includes integrated product endorsement, as this article did, requires a financial investment from the sponsoring company.
Despite a positive response from readers—Guns.com cited the article as one of the week’s most popular—Beretta was quick to retract its support and deny any endorsement after Americans Against the Tea Party and Gawker shared it more widely. A statement posted on Beretta’s website explained “the article itself was repeated on Beretta U.S.A.’s Facebook page without prior review for content.” Oops! Guns.com quickly removed mentions of Beretta on the piece and republished it in the “Regular Programming” section of their website.
Beretta executives were undoubtedly mortified to be caught contradicting themselves when it comes to firearms safety. The article recommended violating numerous firearm safety standards set forth by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), with which Beretta U.S.A. complies. According to these “10 Rules of Safe Gun Handling,” found on NSSF’s website, “Having a gun in your possession is a full-time job … You must know how to use, handle and store firearms safely.”
One of the safety rules instructs gun owners to never rely on a firearm’s safety. Instead, “treat every gun as though it can fire at any time. Never rest a loaded gun against any object because there is always the possibility that it will be jarred or slide from its position and fall with sufficient force to discharge.” However, the tips at Guns.com place firearms in areas where accidental discharges could be lethal. Guests could sit directly above a firearm stored in your couch, for example, or children might reach inside a cereal box at the top of the pantry where you have placed a handgun (yes, Guns.com recommended this!).
The NSSF also states that firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use and should be secured in a safe place, separate from ammunition. The main goal of Guns.com’s advice, however, is immediate accessibility in a moment of crisis. We can infer that these hiding spots are intended for loaded and ready-to-use firearms. The only time that the article explicitly recommends storing a gun unloaded is when hanging a semiautomatic weapon on a plastic hanger through the trigger guard.
Beretta is certainly not alone. The gun industry in general sends mixed signals to consumers who must weigh maintaining a safe, childproof home against one that is prepared for saloon-style gunfights. While paying lip service to firearm safety, the industry continues to fight against any and all attempts to mandate gun safety standards or training through legislation.
The implied need to have easy access to a gun in every part of the home is merely another piece in the gun industry’s marketing puzzle. We can only hope that these recommendations do not contribute to an increase in the hundreds (or more) of unintentional firearm deaths that occur in the U.S. every year.