When properly installed, a cable lock can render a firearm inoperable and unloadable. Cable locks are similar to the typical bicycle lock and do have inherent weaknesses. The most obvious is the ease of cutting the cable. Cable locks, as with trigger locks, do not prohibit unsafe handling of the firearm. Avoid inexpensive locks that can be defeated with a minimum of effort.
Metal lock boxes are a reasonably priced compromise between gun safes and trigger or cable lock devices. Lock boxes are designed primarily for handguns, and the firearms within are kept out of sight. Depending on the configuration of the locking and unlocking component, lock boxes leave the guns relatively accessible to the owner during an emergency.
Lock boxes consist of two parts: the box and the locking system. One type of locking system (the Simplex Lock) uses five pushbuttons and a knob. Opening requires a twist of the knob and pushing a sequence of buttons, then turning the knob in the opposite direction. A specialty system designed specifically to defeat youthful entry requires the owner to insert his or her fingers into four openings to depress four plungers to a certain depth. Once depressed, a latch must be pushed with the thumb to open the box. Other devices use electronic locking systems, some of which include a backup key should the battery or power supply fail.
Lock boxes provide reasonable protection for small children, but most can be defeated by pry bars or screwdrivers. Moreover, lock boxes do not deter theft unless they are bolted securely to a floor or wall. Otherwise, they simply can be picked up and hauled away to a place where more attention can be given to opening them.