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Old May 25, 2016, 08:38 PM   #1
Photon Guy
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Storing powder in gun safes and warning signs

I've seen warning signs for gun safes that say to not attempt to cut the safe open since powder is stored inside and doing so could set the powder off. Some people do store powder in gun safes and I think that doing so and posting a sign that warns about it is a good deterrent for somebody to try to break into the safe. However I was wondering about any criminal and civil liability that might be associated with it. Lets say you do have a safe containing gun powder and you have a sign warning about it and a thief tries to open the safe and the powder goes off and takes their hand off or severely injures them some other way or even kills them, what criminal and civil liabilities could you face? How about if you don't have a warning sign?
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Old May 25, 2016, 08:41 PM   #2
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I say good riddance to the thief, however with the state of our current legal system depending what state you are in I am sure the narrative will change

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Old May 25, 2016, 09:07 PM   #3
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I think that is a very far fetched scenario. If opening the safe is hazardous for a thief it's also likely hazardous to you. Short of having a boobie-trapped safe, a big no-no in and of itself, I don't think I'd worry about such an event.
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Old May 25, 2016, 10:51 PM   #4
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First off, lets make it clear, are you talking about "gunpowder" (Black Powder) or modern smokeless powder, "gunpowder"?

despite what movies, tv, and most people think, modern (smokeless) gunpowder is NOT an explosive. DOT classes it as a flammable solid.

Black powder on the other hand IS an explosive. And it is NEVER properly stored in a safe of other sealed strong metal box. Doing so creates a bomb. Proper storage for quantities of black powder is always in something that will rupture and vent the pressure of an explosion easily. A wooden building/shed for example. Early venting of pressure prevents a larger explosion.

IF you were using a torch, or power saw to cut into a gun safe with smokeless powder inside, it is REMOTELY possible you could ignite the powder. IF so, it would burn very fast (deflagrate), but not explode.

Not sure about legal warnings and liability, best check your local laws, carefully. A safe full of smokeless powder is LESS dangerous than that can of gasoline you use to fill your lawnmower, physically. People believe different, but people believe a lot of stuff that isn't true. Just look at who we elect!

I think a "warning" sign like you described is less a matter of legal liability than a matter of warning an ignorant thief to look for a "safer" and easier target. Assuming, of course, they actually read it, and understand the language...
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Old May 25, 2016, 11:50 PM   #5
Photon Guy
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Quote:
I think that is a very far fetched scenario. If opening the safe is hazardous for a thief it's also likely hazardous to you. Short of having a boobie-trapped safe, a big no-no in and of itself, I don't think I'd worry about such an event.
It wouldn't be dangerous to open the safe the proper way and that would be with the keys and/or combo which should only be available to authorized people, but if you try to cut open a safe when its got powder inside that could cause the powder to go off and I've seen warning signs for sale that warn against that.
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Old May 25, 2016, 11:54 PM   #6
Photon Guy
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Quote:
First off, lets make it clear, are you talking about "gunpowder" (Black Powder) or modern smokeless powder, "gunpowder"?

despite what movies, tv, and most people think, modern (smokeless) gunpowder is NOT an explosive. DOT classes it as a flammable solid.

Black powder on the other hand IS an explosive. And it is NEVER properly stored in a safe of other sealed strong metal box. Doing so creates a bomb. Proper storage for quantities of black powder is always in something that will rupture and vent the pressure of an explosion easily. A wooden building/shed for example. Early venting of pressure prevents a larger explosion.

IF you were using a torch, or power saw to cut into a gun safe with smokeless powder inside, it is REMOTELY possible you could ignite the powder. IF so, it would burn very fast (deflagrate), but not explode.

Not sure about legal warnings and liability, best check your local laws, carefully. A safe full of smokeless powder is LESS dangerous than that can of gasoline you use to fill your lawnmower, physically. People believe different, but people believe a lot of stuff that isn't true. Just look at who we elect!

I think a "warning" sign like you described is less a matter of legal liability than a matter of warning an ignorant thief to look for a "safer" and easier target. Assuming, of course, they actually read it, and understand the language...
The warning signs I've seen warn against black powder. Here is an example.

http://www.libertysafe.com/accessory...-17-pg-49.html
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Old May 26, 2016, 11:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Photon Guy
The warning signs I've seen warn against black powder. Here is an example.
As has been noted, black powder should not be stored in a safe anyway.
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Old May 26, 2016, 12:56 PM   #8
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Your safe is not vented to disperse the burning gases, don't put your powder in there.

My safe is a big one, but interior room is limited, I'm not about to waste the volume taken up by a canister or two of powder when considering I've got other things with a lot more value that should be in the safe. Between guns, valuables, documents, etc., there's no room for a thirty buck can of powder.
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Old May 26, 2016, 02:03 PM   #9
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Well I don't store black powder in my gun safe but lets say that somebody were to booby trap their safe and a thief tried to open the safe and got injured as a result of the booby trap would the owner of the safe be criminally and civilly liable? How about if they had a warning sign?
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Old May 26, 2016, 03:14 PM   #10
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Booby traps are big "no no" in NY state and I assume in most if not all states. Open to tons of liability with a booby trap.
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Old May 26, 2016, 03:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon Guy
Well I don't store black powder in my gun safe but lets say that somebody were to booby trap their safe and a thief tried to open the safe and got injured as a result of the booby trap would the owner of the safe be criminally and civilly liable?
Laws in your locality may vary, but in TX, this seems to be a felony.

From the Texas Penal Code, my emphasis underlined:
Quote:
Sec. 46.01. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
...
(2) "Explosive weapon" means any explosive or incendiary bomb, grenade, rocket, or mine, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, or for the principal purpose of causing such a loud report as to cause undue public alarm or terror, and includes a device designed, made, or adapted for delivery or shooting an explosive weapon.
Quote:
Sec. 46.05. PROHIBITED WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:
(1) any of the following items, unless the item is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or classified as a curio or relic by the United States Department of Justice:
(A) an explosive weapon;
....
(e) An offense under Subsection (a)(1), (3), (4), or (5) is a felony of the third degree. An offense under Subsection (a)(6) is a state jail felony. An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a Class A misdemeanor.
I've omitted some of the text; LE/military use is broadly exempted, but not the use of such a device for defense of property, persons, etc., and nor is there anything about posting warning signs. The only apparent "out" is the NFA or C&R classification, and the latter is hardly applicable to explosive devices.

TX law also contains this little broadly-worded jewel that achieved some notoriety recently with regards to a high-school kid and a recycled digital clock...
Quote:
Sec. 46.08. HOAX BOMBS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
(1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or
(2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
IOW it is hypothetically a crime in TX to possess ANY item with "intent... to make another believe that [it] is an explosive or incendiary device", even if the item's explosive qualities are fake, and/or the phony device is nominally intended to avert criminal activity. So, does a gun safe with a phony "Explosives" sticker on it fall under this statute? Not sure I'd want to be the test case.
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Old May 26, 2016, 05:07 PM   #12
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Your safe is not vented to disperse the burning gases, don't put your powder in there.


Roger that. A safe is for valuables, not powder or primers.
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Old May 26, 2016, 05:28 PM   #13
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The majority of residential burglars are too stupid, uninformed, or drugged out to understand the difference between explosive black powder and smokeless powder. A sign warning about explosive powder might have some value as a deterrent. On the other hand, I think very few residential burglars carry a cutting torch. They are more likely to attack your safe with a crowbar or sledgehammer, including tools they get from your garage.
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Old May 26, 2016, 06:33 PM   #14
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They are more likely to attack your safe with a crowbar or sledgehammer, including tools they get from your garage.
That's why such tools I keep in the safe.
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Old May 26, 2016, 08:07 PM   #15
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Don't store gunpowder in a safe. Gunpowder is deteriorating the day it leaves the factory, when it gets old enough it will autocombust. You should see fuming red nitric acid gas coming out of the powder at the end of its shelf life, but, no one can guarantee that. If your bulk gunpowder catches on fire inside of a heavy steel container, you have created a big, bad, bomb. SAAMI storage requirements are containers that pop easily and vent easily.
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Old May 26, 2016, 08:07 PM   #16
Kevin Rohrer
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I have far too much powder to fit in my safe, even it it had any room in it, which it does not.

If you feel you have to store powder in a larger container, consider an old refrigerator. No one ever looks in them.
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Old May 26, 2016, 08:52 PM   #17
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If you feel you have to store powder in a larger container, consider an old refrigerator. No one ever looks in them.
As long as it not so old as to have an actual LATCH, it would be fine. The best choice would be an industrial flam cabinet. Fairly heavy gauge steel, but fitted with "blow out" panels that will vent gas before it reaches "bomb" levels.

(also, proper installation includes a ground wire).

Remember, black powder CAN detonate from static electricity.
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