Don't forget the paper clip
December 1, 2016 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Handgun Safe Research is a vimeo channel where various handgun safes are effortlessly defeated with zip ties and paper clips.
posted by fleacircus (87 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
The vimeo channel describes two relevant articles:

"It's Too Easy To Crack Your Gun Safe" (July, 2015)

"Lawfully Defective Gun Safes" (January, 2016)
posted by crysflame at 7:31 PM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy moly. Although I notice that his definition of "leaving no evidence" includes programming one of your fingerprints into some of the biometric locks.
posted by figurant at 7:31 PM on December 1, 2016


This seems like a good example of how a lack of good regulations leaves a void that the free market is not going to fill without being pushed.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:45 PM on December 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


his definition of "leaving no evidence" includes programming one of your somebody's fingerprints into some of the biometric locks

FTFY.
posted by spacewrench at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


He used a 711 coffee straw to pop one open. Geezus.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:51 PM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


somebody's fingerprints

Oh, gelatin. Not the first place my mind went on that suggestion.
posted by figurant at 7:56 PM on December 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


"leaving no evidence"

He's referring to lock design idea that it should be obvious to the lock owner that his lock was tampered with. Just about any lock can be defeated with drills, sledge hammers, or torches. But at least that kind of destructive tampering is very evident. In lock design, leaving no sign of tampering is considered a more serious problem.
posted by ryanrs at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


These are horrifying, but the videos are strangely enthralling.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:52 PM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


What do you think; is this dude using some sort of voice-randomization effect, or does he actually sound like this?
posted by aspersioncast at 9:01 PM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is one of the funniest things about living in the USA, 4Chan style -

> be me
> own guns to protect from stealing.
> Have NRA sticker on car to announce I have guns to protect from stealing.
> have to go to work to earn money for guns.
> Robbers notice NRA sticker.
> Come back when I'm at work.
> Steal all my guns.
> Sell them at a "Gun Show" in a hillbilly state.
> Most awesome gun is bought by a Big City Criminal.
> Big City Criminal shoots at enemy with most awesome gun.
> Misses. Hits sleeping toddler instead.
> She dies. Bad guy gets away and dumps most awesome gun into river/bay/harbor/dump before cops show up.
> Worst part?
> Need a third job to afford new guns.

Don't you just want to laugh and laugh?
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 PM on December 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


the videos are strangely enthralling

His voice is a smooth blend of technical confidence, a hint of Aspergers and simmering disbelief.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:36 PM on December 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


These sorts of safes are mostly there to prevent toddlers and dogs from shooting their parents/owners. They don't prevent theft because they are easily portable and rarely secured to something indestructible and immobile.

The shittyness of those yellow cable locks was pretty appalling though. I mean we've been making padlocks for for a couple centuries now; you'd think this would be easy to get right. You aren't going to stop an accomplished picker from opening such small locks anyways but the flat shims shown are easy mode.

And I realize I come from a different place than many of the people buying this equipment in that I don't perceive a need for instant access. So I can advocate for defence in depth (A large weapon case with simple but somewhat robust key-lock. Weapons inside with combination trigger guards. Bolts stored in lock box inside the weapon case. Cable lock (many assorted bike locks to choose from that are usually cheaper than weapon locks) securing weapons to the structure of the case. Weapon case itself robustly secured to building framing (ideally lagged into concrete floor).

For the safes one of the serious design flaws appears to be spring loaded latches. By allowing the safe to be closed just by closing the door (IE: nothing mechanical either directly or via electronics has to happen) the attacker if they can gain access can easily bypass all the security. Having through holes also obviously a problem and one that could be easily solved if anyone manufacturing the devices actually cared. I mean would it really be all that hard or expensive to just pot the assembly after testing and before shipping? Boom! No more fishing zip ties through holes or using paper clips to short actuators. And you haven't had to redesign the structure; just hand some guy making $1 an hour a caulking gun.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 PM on December 1, 2016 [17 favorites]


His voice is a smooth blend of technical confidence, a hint of Aspergers and simmering disbelief.

Rage. Simmering rage. He has spent a lot of time and effort and learned the intricacies of locks and locksmithing, and these are all USELESS TOYS ahem insufficient guards against kids and criminals getting at those fancy side-arms to do irreparable harm.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:53 PM on December 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


He's referring to lock design idea that it should be obvious to the lock owner that his lock was tampered with. Just about any lock can be defeated with drills, sledge hammers, or torches. But at least that kind of destructive tampering is very evident. In lock design, leaving no sign of tampering is considered a more serious problem.
Even if you don't use your own fingerprint, the fact that the fingerprint has been reset (or the button access code as in another video) should indicate to the lock owner that it has been tampered with. So aside from being not obvious at a glance (you have to actually try and open the safe) it's not so different from a sledge hammer in that respect.

Edit: I just noticed that some of them store up to 15 fingerprints, so it might not be noticeable that a new one has been added, but the point still holds in the case of access codes.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:02 PM on December 1, 2016


These sorts of safes are mostly there to prevent toddlers and dogs from shooting their parents/owners.

This. They aren't meant to keep out even a mildly determined person. But "lightly secured gun storage container" really doesn't do it marketing-wise.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:32 PM on December 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Mitheral is 100% right on both the purpose of these "safes" and actual physical security.

These videos are perfect for parents in that when kids start getting old enough to test boundaries/break rules, it's time for the parents to change the way they think about safety wrt potential access to dangerous things. IE it's the time to move away from protecting against accidental encounters and move toward protecting against mischief. In other words, the videos say to parents "Listen up! If I can do this, your teen can too- step up your game and avoid tragedy!"
posted by Hiding From Goro at 10:38 PM on December 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


Guns are by their nature unsafe. Putting a gun in a safe only acknowledges this.

You can't make an unbreakable safe. You can make an interesting challenge, but someone will break it.

There's this ridiculous trope in cinema, that after knocking, announcing who you are, and kicking the door, only shooting the lock with a gun will open it. It's the myth of the gun as deus ex machina.

Just get rid of them. The only safe thing to do is to beat them into plowshares. No one is safe while almost anyone is allowed to have them.

I keep fixating on this word 'safe'. You need this mortally dangerous thing to keep you safe, and you put it in a safe, so it's only safe for you to access it.

That's sheer fantasy though.
posted by adept256 at 10:43 PM on December 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


All these methods of lockpicking require intimate knowledge of the safe itself, it is not as if there a few universal ways of picking them. You have to know where the lever is, etc. These aren't even designed to keep away a robber, they'd simply take the case and use brute force to get it open later.

I'd be more interested if he was able to break open the safe without first exploring how it worked.
posted by geoff. at 11:47 PM on December 1, 2016


Geoff, that attitude goes against the universal assumption in lock design: that the adversary has studied the lock in detail before attempting to defeat it. This must be assumed because thieves often talk to one another (and children often watch videos on vimeo).
posted by ryanrs at 12:24 AM on December 2, 2016 [14 favorites]


All these methods of lockpicking require intimate knowledge of the safe itself, it is not as if there a few universal ways of picking them.

Universal method: Google it, watch video.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:26 AM on December 2, 2016 [18 favorites]


So then, this does not seem to be a problem just with gun safes. It seems that all sorts of locks are easily defeated, or at least that's what I've gathered from watching Youtube videos. Are there locks out there that would require brute force or at least an inordinate amount of time to pick? I assume all locks are pickable given enough time but I might be projecting my own knowledge of things like encryption onto lock picking.
posted by geoff. at 12:41 AM on December 2, 2016


arms vs armor: it may take a while. it may take some study and thoughtfulness. but in the end, arms will always, always win.
posted by dorian at 1:14 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Are there locks out there that would require brute force or at least an inordinate amount of time to pick?

There are good locks, they just cost money and your average American homeowner doesn't know much about locks and doesn't like spending money. Abloy Protec is generally considered the gold standard. BiLock is good. Medeco used to be highly regarded, but a couple bad flaws were discovered in the late 2000s. I don't know how good the current products are.

When I chose locks for my building, I chose Schlage Primus. Though not quite as highly regarded as Abloy, they have very good pick and bump resistance, plus there were some benefits with compatibility and local locksmith support that influenced my decision. They can be picked, but not with a "trick" like a bump key (or paperclip lol). You have to be genuinely very skilled in lockpicking to do it. Here's a video of someone picking a Primus and you can see by his reaction at the end that it's not a simple job. If you were a burglar, you couldn't rely on being able to pick a Primus in the field the way you can use, say, a bump key to pop most locks in 3 secs.

Well-designed electronic locks can be even more resistant to lockpicking-like tampering, although they have their own, different, drawbacks.
posted by ryanrs at 1:21 AM on December 2, 2016 [17 favorites]


(as for price, expect to pay around $200-300 for a single deadbolt, not including keying and installation)
posted by ryanrs at 1:33 AM on December 2, 2016


Security Snobs sells a number of good locks and related hardware. Be sure to check out their collector's page.
posted by ryanrs at 2:03 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Even if you don't use your own fingerprint, the fact that the fingerprint has been reset (or the button access code as in another video) should indicate to the lock owner that it has been tampered with. So aside from being not obvious at a glance (you have to actually try and open the safe) it's not so different from a sledge hammer in that respect.

But doesn’t the fact that the gun is missing indicate that just as readily?

Or are we positing a scenario where a gun is stolen, used in a crime, and returned?
posted by Fongotskilernie at 2:11 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kid opens the safe to show his friends, but doesn't steal the gun. You'd probably want to know if that happened.
posted by ryanrs at 2:23 AM on December 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Slap Happy, if you're going to use the word "hillbilly", you'd better be one yourself. Is that the case, or are you just slinging slurs around?
posted by bentpyramid at 2:39 AM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


But doesn’t the fact that the gun is missing indicate that just as readily?

You don't use the gun much. Maybe only at weekends at the range? As far as you are aware, the safe is secure, you saw it this morning, the door was closed. Why would you check the contents?
Meanwhile, your kid has taken the gun to school.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:57 AM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Are these issues with easy-to-pick locks a problem with regular home safes as well or are they a gun safe-specific issue for some reason?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:00 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sell them at a "Gun Show" in a hillbilly state.

Can we not do this?

The stereotype of liberals as elitist, out of touch assholes who look down on us poor schmucks from flyover country really doesn't need your help. It's doing pretty well on its own.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:45 AM on December 2, 2016 [20 favorites]


Just from a production standpoint, these videos are very well done.

A typical online video features someone who prattles on forever. I hate trying to watch them, so I usually don't.

This guy, by contrast, is incredibly direct and succinct. He doesn't waste a bit of your time. I love that.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:09 AM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Human ingenuity is a hell of a thing.
posted by gwint at 5:41 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


> Worst part?
> Need a third job to afford new guns.


That's if you reported it stolen. If you didn't, the worst part is when the cops trace the gun to you and blame you for shooting the toddler.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:04 AM on December 2, 2016


cops trace the gun

lol
posted by indubitable at 6:08 AM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


The problem on a lot of those seem to be... a bypass lock. Which seems a very strange feature to fail to implement properly on a safe. The Project ChildSafe locks are ridiculous. It's around as solid as the padlock I had on a toy money box I was given when I was 10 or something. I'd be surprised if it was approved as a bike chain lock, let alone for a gun.
Has the NRA called out against poorly built gun safes, or is still too busy buying up politicians?

Also, Who the hell names some of these things? Mac from IASIP ?
posted by lmfsilva at 6:10 AM on December 2, 2016


The NRA is against gun safes, which is consistent with their general anti-safety doctrine.
posted by rodlymight at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Burning Lock Man:
another milestone
in the history of
Internet Druidry.
posted by y2karl at 6:27 AM on December 2, 2016


The NRA is against gun safes, which is consistent with their general anti-safety doctrine.

Come on.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:31 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The NRA is against gun safes, which is consistent with their general anti-safety doctrine.

So, the "do nothing" approach. I'd expect a sensible association to at least point out some of those matte black metal boxes with some badass name aren't much safer than keeping them in a locked drawer.

Then again, I keep forgetting for some people, even expecting just a little is already too much.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:48 AM on December 2, 2016


So then, this does not seem to be a problem just with gun safes. It seems that all sorts of locks are easily defeated, or at least that's what I've gathered from watching Youtube videos.

Pretty much. When I worked in the campus hotel as a housekeeper back in the 80s, the other housekeepers showed me how to get into a hotel room if I'd locked my master key in the room. It took about 5 seconds and a coat hanger. At several apartments I've lived in, getting in the front door if I forgot my keys only required a business card. Most locks are crap.
posted by xingcat at 6:59 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The NRA is against gun safes, which is consistent with their general anti-safety doctrine.

As the linked article says pretty clearly, the NRA is against mandatory gun safes, which isn't the same as being against gun safes in general. But it certainly is an approach which doesn't push safe manufacturers to start selling better models, which is the point of this FPP.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:00 AM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, the promotion of handling guns safely is a good thing the NRA does. Perhaps the only thing, but still.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:05 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


which is the point of this FPP

The point of this FPP is enjoyable videos of a guy bypassing locked boxes with McDonalds plastic cutlery, street sweeper bristles, slurpee straws, etc.
posted by fleacircus at 7:07 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or are we positing a scenario where a gun is stolen, used in a crime, and returned?

In addition to the other scenarios already discussed, there is also this one:

1. Responsible gun owner buys a safe, believing it to be effective.
2. Gun owner uses safe in the intended manner.
3. Gun is removed by a child, thief, etc and the result is theft, an accident, or intentional harm.
4. Gun owner claims the gun had been stored properly, thus they aren't at fault.
5. But in the absence of tampering, it seems more likely that the gun was simply stored improperly (e.g. it was never in the safe, the safe wasn't locked, etc).
6. The gun owner, who had every reason to believe they were being responsible, is blamed for what is in fact the safe manufacturer's fault.

Of course, now that these terrible designs have been well documented, we're in a different scenario, where we may have no way of knowing if the gun was stored properly or if the safe was defeated.
posted by jedicus at 7:11 AM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


we may have no way of knowing if the gun was stored properly or if the safe was defeated.

Locking up Schrödinger's gun in Chekhov's safe.
posted by peeedro at 7:18 AM on December 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


Also, the promotion of handling guns safely is a good thing the NRA does.

Much like Sarris from GalaxyQuest, the NRA will often say one thing and do another.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:20 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mitheral has 80% of the answer about the flimsy safe - it's to keep the gun from immediate access to kids. The other 20% is "have the gun readily on-hand/available to the owner".

These are usually sold as night-stand safes, with quick open as the selling point. The use-case is you hear an intruder in the middle of the night, you can quickly open the safe and protect your castle. Thus the various keyless features to open, and the small size/only having storage room for one weapon (maybe two, but usually one plus an extra magazine).

That way, you can have a loaded gun on your nightstand, and feel a bit safer about the kids not accidentally getting a weapon. I don't think it's meant as a keep your gun safe from thieves who break in when you aren't at home.

A safe or a vault is more secure from that threat, but then the weapons aren't immediately accessible. (And the general wisdom on a safe/vault - if it isn't cemented and bolted into the foundation, they'll just steal the safe and break into it later). The other wisdom on that is ask any kid in a house with guns, "do you know where the key to the safe is ?" and they usually do. (Maybe the combo if it has one)
posted by k5.user at 7:27 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't watch videos from my phone right now, but this is very concerning. Can anyone tell me if this is applying to the 4 foot tall deadbolt type safe as well?
posted by corb at 7:41 AM on December 2, 2016


All the ones I watched were of the quick-opening pistol safe variety, but being cynical I would wonder if the bigger ones are better.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:45 AM on December 2, 2016


The greatest threat to locks and safes is the angle grinder with a cut-off blade. Now Dewalt is making a 60V battery powered one so you don't even need an extension cord.
posted by 445supermag at 7:56 AM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's the defeat with no evidence thing that I think has a lot of people concerned (as well as the ease of the hacks). Thus, while angle grinders are a threat to any safe, they do pretty obviously leave marks that the safe has been cut open and so don't have similar concerns as an attack method.
posted by bonehead at 7:59 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is brilliant work. Good technically, good content, easy to understand, not smarmy, not making any excuses.

So, uh, when is the California DOJ going to revoke these approvals? Cause wow.
posted by odinsdream at 8:13 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like, I am not kidding, they should change whatever their goddamn approval process is to involve a panel of high-school kids who are given rewards for proving a safe defective with only straws, paperclips and coat-hangers.
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


What the *actual fuck* is the deal with these Project Childsafe locks? Holy god. Like, that needs to be investigated. Who the fuck designed those, who the fuck approved those designs...
posted by odinsdream at 8:24 AM on December 2, 2016


He opened this one by squeezing it and giving it a small jiggle oh my god.
posted by odinsdream at 8:34 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


So, who's up for trying to get legislation proposed in CA to add to these regulations the following:

6. Shall be able to resist attempts to open the lock by the use of coffee straws, paperclips, coathangers, and/or jiggling the safe.
posted by odinsdream at 8:37 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Are any of the handgun safes any remotely secure?
posted by Beholder at 8:38 AM on December 2, 2016


geoff.: "So then, this does not seem to be a problem just with gun safes. It seems that all sorts of locks are easily defeated, or at least that's what I've gathered from watching Youtube videos. Are there locks out there that would require brute force or at least an inordinate amount of time to pick?"

One thing to keep in mind is it doesn't make much sense to spend money on a padlock that is orders of magnitude stronger than it's hasp or what the hasp is connected to. If it takes 5 minutes to pick a lock and ten seconds to pry the hasp off the wall the $100 you spent on the lock would have been better directed to securing the hasp.

rodlymight: "The NRA is against gun safes, which is consistent with their general anti-safety doctrine."

That's an extremely misleading interpretation of the NRA position. They are opposed to gun safe use being mandated by law.
posted by Mitheral at 8:45 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


This videohere and this one here taught me that if you are not spending at least 1k on a safe all you are doing is slowing someone down. I have a $100 stack-on gun cabinet bolted to the concrete sub floor. It will keep my guns from getting taken in a smash and grab which is the most common type of robbery in my area. My primary defense is a solid wood door, deadbolt, barky dog, and trimming hedges for my retired neighbors.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


cops trace the gun

lol
posted by indubitable at 9:08 AM on 12/2
[1 favorite +]


For those who haven't looked, there is an entire FPP of WTF in those three letters.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:49 AM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


He opened this one by squeezing it and giving it a small jiggle oh my god.

This one can be opened by shaking it sideways. It's called the "Quick Access Pistol Box" which is pretty on the nose.
posted by peeedro at 8:52 AM on December 2, 2016


Once you own enough guns owning a safe starts to make sense not for safety but for anti-theft reasons. Then you don't buy one of these crappy safes, you invest in a multi-thousand dollar safe that you can't move without a forklift, bolt it to your basement floor, and I guarantee is much more difficult to crack. All these safes show is that regulations regarding putting guns in safes don't really do anything (except make it harder to get your gun in the case of a home invasion). If you want to keep your guns safe, there are safes that will do that, and will keep your heirlooms safe too.

The one my father has weighs several tons and would likely remain standing if the house burned down around it. The dial on the lock is so fine you can't hear it click. These safes are a joke to appease politicians.
posted by unknownmosquito at 9:01 AM on December 2, 2016


Corb, if you have a full size safe with a S&G dial lock, you should be safe. Well, they're not going to go through the lock. Gun safes are all marketing: they have a big heavy door with giant bolts on a not-that-strong metal box. As 445supermag notes above, an angle grinder will cut them open through the side or back. They will certainly discourage kids or casual burglars however.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:04 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Beholder: "Are any of the handgun safes any remotely secure?"

There are probably lots; one would think security is loosely correlated with price. One thing to keep in mind is the featured safes appear to be pretty cheap (and not a surprise the cable locks are cheap they were designed to be given away). I mean looking at amazon several of the featured "safes" are less than $50.

This unit seems secure (if the lock is actually a high security design). The fact that it weighs 31 pounds is a good sign. Key only though. And these shot locks appear pretty good. All mechanical combination and you need to turn the knob to lock the door so the release isn't spring loaded. The door appears to have decent pry resistance and overlap all the way around. A person would want to do more research on a particular model before buying though.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on December 2, 2016


I have a full size safe with an electronic lock and I have to turn the handle to open it. We paid close to 1000$ for it and it took two or three guys to get it in. I wish I could afford one that cost several thousand dollars, but that just isn't in the cards for us right now. Mostly I was concerned about kid and casual burglar access. What I'm gathering is it seems like those are mostly safe in that if they were broken into it'd be fairly obvious? Am I reading that right?
posted by corb at 9:18 AM on December 2, 2016


I should mention that one of the vulnerabilities of a mechanical push button lock is often they have a small key space; especially ones with only five buttons. Another box I looked at (Stealth Portable) stated a possible 1081 combinations. That's a key space that a bored 10 year old is going to be able to break in a few hours.
posted by Mitheral at 9:22 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


(except make it harder to get your gun in the case of a home invasion).

In almost 80 years I have never met anyone who spoke of their home being invaded by other than, ants, roaches, mice and rugrats. And I have and do belong to shooting clubs whose members would be quick to mention if their homes had been invaded ( by government agents or other 'bad guys'")
posted by notreally at 9:50 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's an extremely misleading interpretation of the NRA position. They are opposed to gun safe use being mandated by law.

Well according to that link they did say the effect of a gun safe would be:
rendering firearms useless in self-defense situations.
And:
this bill is not only unnecessary, it is dangerous.
So why should we not interpret that as being against gun safes?
posted by Green With You at 9:58 AM on December 2, 2016


Can we not do this? Some people have a legitimate fear of home invasion, some people's fear is unjustified. Personally, I have a violent ex-husband, which is one of the leading causes of death for women my age. However, I also have a German Shepherd, who I'm pretty sure will buy me the 30 seconds that I need to access my gun safe. Talking about gun safe security is useful and interesting, fighting about people's fears sucks!
posted by corb at 10:02 AM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


So why should we not interpret that as being against gun safes?
NRA is an organization for manufacturers of guns and gun related items. Browning and SecureIt are makers of gun safes who are corporate sponsors of the NRA. Follow the money.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:55 AM on December 2, 2016


In 32 years I have known 2 different people who have been the victims of armed home invasion.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:24 AM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Gotta agree with corb. Four times in the last 30 years the threat of getting shot was enough to make an ex quit kicking a door in. Two other times I just spent a few nights sleeping on a couch. So in my limited experience if a woman thinks her ex might get violent, she's more likely than not to be right.
posted by ridgerunner at 12:45 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Surprising not to see this

“In other words, the videos say to parents "Listen up! If I can do this, your teen can too- step up your game and avoid tragedy!"”


I doubt the people who need to watch this are the type to watch this.


“In almost 80 years I have never met anyone who spoke of their home being invaded…”

Perhaps they’re not posturing idiots? If you want to stay safe, like actually safe instead of trying to look bad ass, odds are you wouldn’t talk much publicly about it, at least to people you only know casually.

But in terms of what actually happens - we just had the grandson of a U.S. Rep. out here die in a home invasion.
Seems like it can happen to anyone. Despite the anecdotals.

And just had an arrest out here for a guy who would beat and rape women when he invaded homes.

So clearly there's some people specifically targeted for their perceived defenselessness.

As far as the gubmit busting in the door, man, there’s too many high profile police shootings in Chicago to list.

One really neat one last year, CPD killed a mom and her son in their home responding to a mental health crisis. Mayor Emanuel was so moved he actual made a phone call to the family while on vacation in Cuba. Plenty of stories other places where police kill people in mistaken raids.

It’s not like home invasions are a myth.

And yeah, now the conversation bait and switches to “but a gun wouldn’t have helped that…” yadda yadda.

The difference isn’t so much the firearm itself. (Well, it would be in the case of the rapist.) But rather the mindset and thinking of security as requiring a spectrum of customizable options, one of which may (or may not) be a firearm and some way to secure that firearm.

It’s debatable whether a gun would help Davis’ grandson. Probably not. And most certainly there are better methods (education, better policing, community support, etc) to reduce gun violence than an armed response.

But, generally speaking, the difference with an armed response means you’ll at least get a trial (if, for example, it’s the police kicking in your door). The police review boards are a bit notorious for being lax. But juries tend to cut people a lot of slack for opening fire when someone kicks their door in in the middle of the night.

Yeah, looks like I'm off on a rant, but this does all relate to the idea of gunsafes.

All in all, what keeps you safe is practice, habit, and, importantly, communication and support.

For example, kids in school seem to do better when their parents read books on parenting.
The books themselves, according to what I’ve read, are for the most part marginally useful at best.
So the variable, from what I’ve read, is that the kind of parents who will read parenting books are the kind of parents who take parenting seriously enough that they’ll spend time reading books about it.

So too, the kind of person who will spend time buying a gun safe, looking at videos about whether gun safes are effective, is not likely to be the kind of person who needs to be schooled about gun safety.

And, like the above points about home invasion, the kind of person who rationally considers home invasion and takes steps to address the threat, is going to have ephemeral defenses protecting them on top of a gun safe.
Such as a dog, contact with neighbors, children educated about gun safety, habits that ensure gun safety – on a slight tangent, even my cat who cleans herself 20 times a day thinks I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to firearms, I don’t leave weapons laying anywhere casually.
They’re always where they are by intent and deliberation. There’s nothing more urgent than securing my firearm when I have it in my possession. If the stove suddenly catches fire and I have a weapon in my hand I would secure the weapon properly first before getting a fire extinguisher.
Training and preparation are what save you. No mechanical safety device can replace that.

Gun safes are merely tools to aid gun safety, a point in a safety spectrum that includes a number of other layers (and again, training, habit, deliberation), not a fail safe (no pun int’d).
Now, yeah, you should have a way to secure your firearms if you have them.

But more importantly you should be the kind of person who researches the quality of one’s gun safe as though lives depend on it. Which it does.

The people that buy half ass gun safes and useless geegaws for their firearms are the people who do not take firearm safety seriously and have a vastly inferior mindset. Such that if someone actually does break into their home, they will revert to type, which 99/100 is aggressive posturing instead of useful action.
And so they will die or become victimized even if they’re lucky enough to not get killed because they will allow that pride to prevent them from saving their own lives or taking steps to remedy the situation.

Which is probably why so many mistaken police raids don’t result in law enforcement reforms. More people willing to pretend a firearm protects them like a magic totem instead of seeing it as a tool in a spectrum of defense like organization, political activism, police oversight, accountability, neighborhood communication and overwatch.

Stupid. Lot of people (who either buy into the “rugged individualist” myth or have extreme introversion) would rather spend hundreds of dollars than take 10 minutes to talk to people in their neighborhood about their shared need.

And yes, the NRA was about gun safety, education about gun safety, etc. and is now about selling worse than useless geegaws (“A carry gun should be all business, not an art project.”) and marketing to posturing idiots.
There are still pockets of folks who teach proper ways to handle firearms. (On that note, one doesn’t necessarily need a “gun safe,” you can avoid the marketing b.s. - there are good commercial safes which are much better, and some big enough to can handle long guns. Jewlery safes f’instnce. I dislike them personally because if someone’s looking for a safe, odds are a jewelry safe is what they’re looking for. If you have insurance, it can cover the firearms. Won’t cover damage to the drywall, studs, floors, etc. etc. Those job site boxes are pretty good, and they’re good camoflage too)

One of the things I dislike about these conversations are that they are divisive – when security is one of the areas people need to be most inclusive about.

It's a topic people feel fine, self-righteous even, in excluding others' genuine needs about because of the politics involved. "Liberals" favoring draconian gun laws putting more people in prison than fascist's wet dreams. Amazing dissonance. The only thing the Democratic Chicago Mayor and Republican governor agree on is cutting funding for anti-violence programs and increasing policing and prison time.

I’ve spoken in detail about CeaseFire. Excellent program. O.G.s talking to teenagers and community members, all that.
It works in stopping gun violence.

And so of course, it's funding is cut almost as a matter of course. Because gangs.

One of the problems is that "gangs" are often started as mutual protection and political action organizations.
The Latin Kings, f’rinstnce, started as an outfit of Spanish speakers because a lot of Puerto Ricans were getting their asses kicked in Chicago. But “gang” has come to mean “racketeering criminal organization” in any sense of the word. So if people of color band together, they attract police attention and harassment. And you need money for defense (lawyers, guns, etc). Which means raising capital. Which means, almost inevitably, drugs.

Which perpetuates the situation. Indefinitely. Gangs are always bad. Drugs are always bad. Guns are always bad. Anything connected to them - always bad. Whether it works or not. Got to stop everything and get more money to fight the other side by whatever means.

(Use a negative image there and it’s pretty much the NRA. No drugs, but same race to the bottom, lose the entire original point, dance. Got to defeat one's enemies instead of accomplishing the mission.)

"If we are to believe the true purpose of gun control advocacy is to end gun violence and save lives, then gun control advocates must get serious about embracing what the evidence shows is the best way to do this. "

Don't get me wrong, I think many people here and in the u.S. are genuinely interested in saving lives and limiting firearm deaths (in fact, so am I), but the overall situation seems analogous to pro-life people opposing abortion and trying to limit people's options as opposed to supporting programs that have practical value in achieving the (stated) goal.

So, never forget the entire point of having a gun safe is to expand your options.

It’s there to serve your goals not make you a slave to any given method.
But the ultimate goal is safety. It’s not avoiding robbery. Put valuables in an area away from your gun safe. Lock your heavy tools if you have any (yeah, you can break into any safe with big enough tools, but who’s going to be lugging an angle grinder into someone’s place at 2am? …of course, I’m assuming you know your neighbors and have taken other measures to insure someone going into your place at 2 am with B&E tools will, y’know, look out of place, Especially with the loud alarm you have going (you’ve installed one, right?) and those light timers that make it look like your home.
And even if the thief (or 4 year old) could get into the safe, you’ve hidden it. Or them. Only thing better than a great hiding spot is dispersal of caches with great hiding spots.
And why does your safe have to look like a safe?

One of the things I vehemently disagree with is having hidden compartments for, say, booze or other valuables. What you want is for you gun location to be as uninteresting as possible. To thieves, yes, but to kids too. A bathroom garbage can with a false bottom with some tampons and used q-tips for example. Inside a printer or flatbed scanner. Big bowling trophy. Back of your office chair.

The key isn’t to be clever, but boring and unattractive. And have layers. You don’t just secure the gun. You don’t just hide it. You use and tame your environment and teach your kids that a gun is not a toy. Drain the desire from them to go looking for it like a toy before Christmas.
Kinda like booze or fear of dogs. Remove the mystique. Treat it like a drill or power saw. A boring, but dangerous tool that it’s not cool or awesome to use but one that requires work and skill and respect or you’ll unceremoniously shave a finger off your hand. (And, to belabor the point, the gun debate only increases the mystique which serves to alienate everyone from each other, defeat the entire point of security and empower those whose only interest is making money/scoring points from the conflict.)

And of course, gun insurance is a good idea so you don’t freak out having to spend a lot building wall concealment systems, etc. And gun insurance keeps one honest so you have to report stolen guns, all that. Layers of defense. Big gun safe in your basement. Somebody delivers a foosball table or something. Now a delivery guy knows you have a gun safe and maybe thieves who never would have broken in otherwise go straight for it.
So a gun safe, or in some cases if one isn't able to responsibly deal with firearm ownership having a firearm, can make you LESS safe.

Again, the purpose is not to prevent stuff being stolen from you. That’s impossible against someone really determined. The purpose is safeguarding lives.

So, communicate with your neighbors about safety - you can keep an eye on their place too when they're not around, don’t advertise you’ve got firearms, know who comes in and out of your house and customize your environment to hide firearms from them (got a plumber coming in? Don’t have guns hidden under your sink), don’t advertise (like on Facebook like millions of people do) when you’re away from home. Check and recheck other security measures, the simple ones, like your garage door. Buy a used car and make it look like someone’s always home. Got a dog? No? Pretend you have a dog. Yeah, signs are nice. But buy some dog food (cans). Get a dog bowl or dog house. Get tinted windows or security window film so they can’t see in that you don’t have a dog (and save money on energy costs in the summer...buys you maybe a few seconds on a break in. meh.). Put valuables in different places so they’ll steal that and leave. Internet could surveillance cameras are getting pretty cheap and they can store on the cloud which increases the chances police can find someone who breaks in. And there’s nowhere faster in grabbing a pistol than having it on you, given all the above about training of course.

All this in addition to seeing how a gun safe – or rather – the goal of securing your firearm(s) when you’re not around by whatever optimum means for you – works within that spectrum of keeping yourself safe.
The entire goal is to give yourself as many options as possible while rationally eliminating ones that may endanger you while keeping your needs and realistic capabilities in mind.

Yeah I wrote a book here. I care about this stuff and about people who need this kind of help. Wherever one stands I think we can all agree carelessness inevitably leads to tragedy.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:06 PM on December 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


The cable lock things... we have several of them at home, because sure why not, they were free. Looking at them, the design is to thread the loop through the action to prevent a shell from being inserted. Seems a cheap bike cable lock would be just as effective and likely be harder to defeat.

(Never used the locks actually. Just keep all the ammo in the garage and sort of forget the shotgun exists. Hasn't been used in 10+ years anyway so it's kind of easy to forget it's there. As I told my brother, putting up a pro-Hillary sign is cheaper than a gun safe anyway... "Oh, a liberal? No guns here then, let's go to the next house")
posted by caution live frogs at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2016


God all these safes look so terrible I'm tempted to kickstart my own solid milled metal with internal RFID locks sold with RFID rings to open it on approach. I was seriously considering getting a gun soon and I'm dismayed by the lack of reasonable safes.
posted by odinsdream at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


...and Smedleyman, thanks for the tirade. You're always entertaining when the topic is near and dear to you, whereas I just went with snark. Snark is funny. Your comment actually adds value to the thread.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:24 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


ryanrs: "There are good locks, they just cost money and your average American homeowner doesn't know much about locks and doesn't like spending money. Abloy Protec is generally considered the gold standard. BiLock is good. Medeco used to be highly regarded, but a couple bad flaws were discovered in the late 2000s. I don't know how good the current products are."

Ironically, once you get above the most basic locks (Master, KwikSet), pretty much every lock company is owned by one of only a few mega-companies that own sometimes dozens of lock, safe, and security companies. Assa, Abloy, Medeco, Yale, Mul-T-Lock and more are owned by Assa Abloy (out of Sweden). Silco, Ilco, and Kaba Mas are owned by Kaba Group (out of Switzerland). Even Schlage is part of Allegion, the security-products arm of Ingersoll Rand that also contains about 2 dozen lock/safe/key/security-card/etc. companies. In general, almost anything you buy in the world of medium to high end security comes back to one of about 5 mega-entities.

As for good locks, Schlage's high security series are *still* usually the best trade-off in terms of being easy to find and affordable for consumers, as well as easy to get serviced by a locksmith, while still being solid on the basics. I would avoid KwikSet on pretty much everything (their HS locks had a vulnerability that could open them in <5 seconds using a few inches of a strong but flexible wire like piano wire, and their non-HS locks are pretty much crap all around), and would avoid the expensive super-high-end unless your use-case is super specific. And if you don't have the money for high end, you can have standard ones re-keyed with bump-resistant springs and ribbed pins to make them far better.
posted by mystyk at 3:18 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


k5.user: "And the general wisdom on a safe/vault - if it isn't cemented and bolted into the foundation, they'll just steal the safe and break into it later."

The government uses that philosophy. DoD security regs specify that if a safe is less than ~500lbs then it must be either bolted down, inside a secure vaulted room, or used only for unclassified, non-sensitive items (and weapons are considered sensitive items).
posted by mystyk at 3:23 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Before we settled on the Schlage Primus, we bought a bunch of sets of lockpick tools and some locks and set the engineers to work on them (computer and chip design engineers). All the normal hardware store locks were trivial to open. And by trivial, I mean with practice you could do it in one quick motion so smooth people would think you used a key.

I also did a test where I dressed in street clothes and very obviously jimmied the main building's lock with stereotypical-looking burglar tools for about 15 minutes to see if anyone would care. On a mid-rise office building in the middle of San Francisco's financial district during lunch hour rush. Nobody cared of course.

We also tried out some shady online shops that would make a key from a cell phone pic. The key we received had nicer cuts and worked better than the original.

There's so much you can do with locks if you just read a bit about it. One of my friends disassembled his office lock and measured the pins, along with the locks of a couple friends in other buildings around campus. From this he deduced the company's master key system and cut himself a grandmaster for Apple's main campus in Cupertino.

Locks are fun.
posted by ryanrs at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


It seems that all sorts of locks are easily defeated, or at least that's what I've gathered from watching Youtube videos.

This is true, but standard house construction in the US is not done with security in mind. (Great for earthquake resistance, terrible for stopping break-ins.) So you could put in high-end locks... but the door can still be kicked in, and if that is reinforced there will be about a dozen windows at groundlevel. You could cut and pry your way through the walls or roof quite easily, but there isn't much reason to given the easy doors and windows.

The kind of pistol safe he is testing doesn't need to be resistant to heavy tools or angle grinders, or against a really determined lockpick. But they should be above the capabilities of the average elementary school kid, and most of the ones in the videos aren't, which isn't right and shouldn't be legal.

I have one of the safes he tests (and easily opens), and I will be doing some research this weekend to see if there are better options or if there is a good way to jury rig fixes to this one. If I had kids, I would be outraged that I was sold something that any child could open.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:10 PM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


If it's one of the ones that has a hole vulnerability then just filling the holes with a 5 minute epoxy will "fix" it.
posted by Mitheral at 6:42 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of my friends disassembled his office lock and measured the pins, along with the locks of a couple friends in other buildings around campus. From this he deduced the company's master key system and cut himself a grandmaster for Apple's main campus in Cupertino.

Hah, I did the same thing at our college.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 PM on December 2, 2016


Of course, now that these terrible designs have been well documented, we're in a different scenario, where we may have no way of knowing if the gun was stored properly or if the safe was defeated.

These guys were contracted in just such a case: how did the kid get the gun if it was locked in the safe?

The father had already been cleared criminally—I’m sure being a sheriff didn’t hurt there—but he was later fired for speaking up about the defective safes.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 9:32 PM on December 2, 2016


Slap Happy, if you're going to use the word "hillbilly", you'd better be one yourself. Is that the case, or are you just slinging slurs around?

I do come from poor white working class stock, tho by luck I now have something more than my Grandparents imagined for their own brilliant and hardworking kids. That was the wrong word to use, thanks.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


ryanrs:

Looks like you went through a solid process for deciding on the lock you want. I've always been impressed with Schlage's high-security options specifically because they work quite well but are still affordable for the average consumer.

What you mention about master-keys from disassemblimg the lock is a formally-taught technique in locksmithing. You can also do it from just seeing enough keys, though the lock side is a bit easier to do for making sure you capture all the pinning combinations for that lock. Interesting note: the master key is almost always the highest-cuts (lowest numbers) version of the combinations a lock is pinned for, so you usually only have to disassemble one lock to get it -- the rationale is that you don't want a user to be able to modify their key into a master key by filing/cutting theirs. Unfortunately, with other techniques these days, that's no longer sufficient.

And also about the derivation of the master key: something like this actually came up in an Army case some years back in a frightening way. A soldier figured out that the barracks keys were done that way, and took apart his room lock to figure it out, and eventually made himself a master key. He was later accused of sexual assault of a female soldier in her room in the middle of the night, but nobody could explain how he got to the female side of the barracks, let alone into her room. Eventually a search turned up the master key he had made.

Lastly, on a less dark tone, you mention making keys from a picture. I use Schlage at home, but I keep my house key hidden using an over-key mini multitool, which hides the cuts, for exactly this reason, and also conveniently gives me a mini multitool if I need it (you can see that here). I also have a less-common variation of the keyway shape, high-security pins for every pin in every lock, bump-resistant springs throughout, and started from slightly higher-end locks to begin with since they will have tighter tolerances. Oh, and I ground the only 3 keys myself (1x me, 1x wife, 1x safety deposit), so there aren't numbers printed on the side of my keys either.
posted by mystyk at 6:14 AM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


If it's one of the ones that has a hole vulnerability then just filling the holes with a 5 minute epoxy will "fix" it.

I found the easiest solution was to take two quarters and epoxy them over the holes on the inside. Not elegant, but definitely worth the 50 cents of cost for an interim fix.

Even though I don't have kids and there are never unsupervised children in the house, I am still planning to buy a better one that is at least resistant to a child's curiosity, just for the principle of it.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:16 PM on December 3, 2016


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