Firearms Storage: Do not be this guy
I just got in from 2 hrs. of home visits and review within my market.
We're doing a market valuation effort and as part of this we go out with our realtor and see what the market will bear as well as looks like. We do this every 2 or 3 yrs. regardless of where we live in the moment.
We arrive at the last of several homes and as we walk through the front door I look off to the hard left to see a tall wooden with glass front traditional gun cabinet standing in the far corner. It is facing the hall and standing within plain view to his front yard via front corner window.
The case door had a simple key lock to it and the key itself was in the lock.
Inside the case was a Remington 870, a bolt action rifle that was not recognizable to me and a second shotgun which I could not identify.
The sellers realtor was onsite having met us there to greet and show us around.
I commented to her that in MA storage of a firearm per state law in this manner was unlawful. Being specific the cabinet is fine but leaving the key in the lock to the cabinet is not. It's same as leaving the case door open.
I advised her to remove the key and place it in a hidden area where the homeowner could readily reach it but was hidden from plain view.
So she grasped the key, turned it, and opened (!) the case. She then closed and turned the key a half turn back to relock it and removed the key placing it at the top left leading edge corner of the case and asked if that would be okay. I said nope, it's in plain view. So she moved it to the left rear trailing edge and asked if that would work, to which again I replied; "Nope. I can see it as I walk up. I'm 6'1" and the case is just about 5'10" or 11"."
On top of the cabinet was a baseball cap amongst a bunch of kitsch folded in the rear.
I advised she maybe put the key inside the hat at the folds. Instead she reached over to a hanging shelf and lifted a large candle stickholder and placed the key under it's base.
I commented that would be fine and to alert the homeowner that the firearm handling and storage laws in MA are very clear about this type of thing. As well this being MA if God forbid his home were to be burglarized or some fool walk through as I am, or his child, and they were to open the key in the lock case and handle/mishandle any of the firearms then he the homeowner would have liability as per criminal law, not just civil. Further if they were burglarized and the guns hit the streets and later were found to have been used in commission of a crime then again he could find himself with criminal liability due to improper and unsafe firearms storage.
I told the realtor this is not legal theory. It has and does happen and there was a case toward as much just recently a few years back toward similar where the firearms owner was found to be culpable and criminally liable.
She then replied; "And what if I were here alone with someone and they got hold of it?!". To that I commented stuff like that does occur in your industry, it's not unheard of nationally. But in this case it's likely these arms are not stored in a loaded condition.
Frankly I have no idea what the status of those weapons were toward the two shotguns magazines. It's very possible they were loaded. But I didn't want to further alarm the young lady.
This is not the exact case I saw but it looked very similar to this...
Do not be this guy.
Regardless of state laws and penalty potential, it's just not smart nor wise to leave they key in as it was. It's not a key it's a door handle at that point.
Further if this guy were to have suffered say a home invasion what would prevent a _criminal_ from simply opening his key in the lock case and using his own firearms against him or his family? Nothing, nothing at all.
Not smart, not wise...and key left in lock is not lawful either.
P.S. - IMHO these type of cabinets are fubar anyway. It's nothing but thin plate glass keeping me from reaching in and taking what I want anyway regardless of the cheap lock and the units darkly stained pine board construction.
Might as well get a real and actually secure cabinet or secondarily secure the firearms within the 'display' cabinet (it's not security in any real sense of the word) by cabling them to each other and/or installing locks to each of them individually.