It's no secret that the declining economy has everyone looking for new was to make extra money. Unfortunately, this includes the criminal element. And now that threats of stricter gun laws dominate the news, your weapons have become an irresistible temptation for thieves. We spend a lot of time and money on firearm education, equipment, and safety to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but what about protection for those firearms?
Your first line of defense is a good safe. True, they can be expensive, but then again, so is your gun collection. Many of our guns have sentimental value and have been passed down from generation to generation. Buy the strongest, biggest safe that your budget and room allow. If you can't afford a safe, you can buy a good locking gun cabinet. Sometimes you can find good deals at estate sales or craigslist. The problem with gun cabinets is many have a glass door. This is very nice as a decoration and way of displaying your collection, but it also does a good job of showing a potential thief what you have and where they all are. So keep it out of sight as much as possible, not in the living room where every delivery driver and repair man can scope it out. In the absence of a cabinet or safe, at the very least, keep your guns out of sight under a bed or in a closet...somewhere that doesn't suffer from extreme temperature changes. Also, keep them out of cases if at all possible as this promotes rust.
Another important part of keeping you firearm collection safe is good record keeping. Should someone get past your best security efforts and steal your weapons, you need to be able to give the police a detailed description of each firearm, including the manufacturer, make, model, and serial number. A very good way to keep track of this information is to take digital photos of all angles, features (including serial number), and accessories. Keep a hard copy of the photos and any receipts in a safe place at home and another set in a safe deposit box. Also, upload electronic copies of the photos and records to a photo sharing site like photobucket (just be sure to set your privacy settings so only you can view them). This is a great way to be able to access your firearms records if your camera or computer is stolen, or a disaster destroys your hard copies. The sooner you can supply the police with your serial numbers and descriptions, the faster they can get it to local pawn shops, and the better chance you have of recovering your property.
Having a current list and estimate of the value of your firearms collection is also very important for insurance purposes. Have a good insurance policy and double check that it covers firearms because some don't. Make sure you have enough coverage to replace everything if lost, and update it as needed. Keeping good records will help you replace your property should the police be unable to find it.
Finally, in this technological age, be careful what you post online. When you're logged into online forums or social networking sites, it can be REALLY tempting to post pictures of your new bow decked out in the latest site/rest/hog light combo. But you don't know who could be reading your post. And you may have saved for months to buy that new AR with night vision, but if you mention on Facebook how you found such a good deal on .223 ammo that you stocked up enough to survive the zombie apocalypse, you may as well be giving a thief the green light to relieve you of your new blaster and saving him a trip to pick up ammo.
So just as taking that extra time to practice gun safety at the range prevents costly and dangerous mistakes, completing the boring task of record keeping can prevent the loss of a lifetime investment in gear, keep your weapon out of a criminal's hand, and your grandfather's heirloom shotgun safely on it's way to your daughter next Christmas.