Elsewhere in this issue you will find information regarding
the upcoming RSA 2011 elections and how to volunteer
to be a candidate or recommend a candidate for the
positions up for election. If you have thought about getting
more involved in RSA leadership before, but have hesitated,
now would be a good time to throw your hat into the ring.
Because of a retirement and the untimely death of Jay Huber,
we will need to add at least two new directors to the RSA Board
with this election. If you would like to nominate someone else,
please be certain to first verify with them that they would like to
run before submitting their name to John Gyde, the RSA
May’s unprecedented rainfall and attendant flooding
in the Nashville area got me thinking about disaster recovery
for gun collections. I had extensive damage to my house,
garage and grounds, although my collection was safe at all
times. But what if it had not been? This made me realize that
disasters are more likely than I had thought and that we really
ought to plan ahead. We should not only take disaster prevention
measures, but have a recovery plan in case the unthinkable
happens. These lists are just to get you thinking about and
assessing your specific circumstances, they are far from all
Disaster for a gun collection can come from more than
floods. Contingencies include all kinds of storms, fire (including
water damage from putting a fire out), earthquake, theft and
problematic storage to name a few. There are many measures
which can be taken to prevent or mitigate collection disasters.
- Avoid storing your collection in a basement. In addition to greater exposure to flooding, basements are often humid places and water is a gun’s enemy, both metal and wood.Try to store your collection above the 100 year storm line. If you must utilize a basement, elevate your guns as much as practical. Even a couple of inches of water in a basement would be disaster if long gun butts rest on the floor. Run a dehumidifier if need be to control humidity.
- Temperature extremes are bad. If you wouldn’t be comfortable living where your guns do, they won’t like it either.
- Long term exposure to air which is too dry can also harm wood stocks. If you humidify your house air during some
seasons, it would be good if your guns could share that tempered air.
- Try to place your collection where it is not exposed to roof or water pipe leaks.
- A safe can be good protection against fire, theft and unauthorized handling. But remember that safes are made of metal and so are hydroscopic. Avoid placing them against outside walls and utilize a system to prevent
- Avoid storing your collection in ways which could lead to storage damage. Don’t keep firearms in air tight cases
which do not breathe unless you use a good desiccant and keep it active. Cushion guns in some way, but don’t line
drawers or racks with materials which absorb and hold moisture from the air.
We should all be sensitive to preventing access by children or other unauthorized people. But don’t forget
about pets and watch for signs of mice or insects which could cause damage too.
Store your collection cleaned and oil the pieces with appropriate frequency.
Don’t forget about paper and other non-gun items in your collection. They might require different or separate
If you have some pieces which are particularly valuable, you might consider storing them in a bank safety deposit box or other secure arrangement. But be aware that those places can suffer disasters too.
Consider insuring your collection. Homeowner’s policy coverage will be minimal and you need a rider or separate policy to adequately cover a collection.
Maintaining a good inventory of your collection is
important for many reasons, including anticipation of possible
disasters. Insurance claims, potential tax deductions for losses,
and police reports in case of theft all require proof of loss and
that starts with a good inventory. If something should happen
to you, your collection inventory will be invaluable to your
family and the executor of your will (or probate court if you
have no will). It is a good idea to safely keep receipts and other
proofs of what you paid organized and together with your
inventory. Good photographs can greatly increase the utility of
your inventory. You should keep at least two copies of your
inventory with one maintained somewhere away from the
collection so a disaster which destroys your collection doesn’t
simultaneously destroy your inventory. If you use electronic
records, have multiple independent backups.
- Sometimes people have advance warning and time to move valuable possessions to a safe place. For example, there is often several days’ warning for floods.
- If your guns are exposed to water, you must get the water and contaminants completely out and clean and oil the metal as quickly as possible. Compressed air can blow water off parts but it can also blow water into little places which are hard to get at. Stocks will need to be removed and dried separately. Let wood dry slowly so it does not crack. If you are not capable of doing such cleaning yourself, what gunsmith could you quickly take your collection to for professional work?
Hopefully you will never have to deal with a disaster affecting your firearms collection. But if you prepare beforehand, should you be so unfortunate, you might be able to mitigate damage and will be better prepared to deal with it.