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Biometric Gun Safes: Yea or Nay?



Is a thumbprint-ID locking safe for you?

One of the most pressing concerns for responsible gun owners is how to safely store their firearms when they’re not in use. What makes this complicated is that the relevant phrase in that previous sentence is “when they’re not in use.” But how does this apply to your self- and home-defense firearm? The quandary is that you need to be able to access your defensive gun quickly in the case of a home invasion—but you also need to keep it inaccessible to unauthorized users. There are now a number of gun safes on the market that allow owners to lock them with biometric information (usually a thumbprint). What are the pros and cons of safeguarding your self-defense guns with a biometric lock?

Nobody told me not to paint the baby, so I did.


Let’s start by acknowledging the reality of the problem for gun-owning households. Our goal when it comes to our defensive guns is to prevent what is euphemistically called “unauthorized access” to them. I say “euphemistically” because although that phrase could certainly apply to a home invader, for most of us, what we’re most worried about is our own family members—specifically, the kids and their friends.

What makes this particularly tough for parents is that when kids are younger than what child-development experts call “the age of reason,” trying to explain why they shouldn’t do a certain thing is almost a guarantee that they’ll try to do exactly that—and that they’ll bring a MacGyver-like level of innovation that could make an engineer weep. (In fact, should you ever want to test the integrity of any lock, just hand it to a six-year-old and tell them they can stay up an hour later if they can crack it.) So for families in that situation, the best compromise that allows Mom and Dad access to their defensive guns while preventing Junior’s might just be a biometric lock.

No pressure.


The problem with the biometric locks on the market right now is that most of them use the same technology that unlocks your smartphone. And if you’ve got your phone set up to unlock with your thumbprint, you may have noticed something: It fails about one out of every 25-30 attempts. Frequently there isn’t any particular reason why, but the most common culprit is moisture. So if your thumb is sweaty—which is almost a guarantee in a sudden, middle-of-the-night emergency—the biometric lock might fail at the worst possible time.

The better biometric safes on the market do usually have a fallback entry method, such as a key or a numeric passcode. However, the concern would be that in an emergency the homeowner might be wasting valuable seconds trying to engage the biometric lock before they go to the more traditional unlocking methods. What’s more, there are some eventualities in which you might need to let another adult who isn’t “keyed in” to your gun safe with a thumbprint have access to the gun. (An example would be a trusted adult childminder watching your kids overnight.)

What do you think? Would you use a biometric gun safe? Tell us in the comments!


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