Title:
Firearm safety apparatus and methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A firearm safety apparatus comprises an elongated member with an enlarged barrel cap at one end, and means for retaining the other end outside the barrel. The elongated member is long enough to extend through and out of the barrel, and the barrel cap is large enough to prevent its passage through the barrel. The retaining means are engaged with the elongated member after emergence of the end from the barrel so as to retain the first end outside the barrel. The apparatus may be further adapted for enabling removal of the retaining member and removing the safety apparatus from the firearm. The presence (or lack) of the firearm safety apparatus thus installed may be readily ascertained by visual inspection, enabling an observer to determine whether a firearm is definitely safe to handle. The firearm safety apparatus may be brightly colored for facilitating such observation.



Inventors:
Clark, Randall John (Central Point, OR, US)
Application Number:
10/345594
Publication Date:
09/18/2003
Filing Date:
01/15/2003
Assignee:
CLARK RANDALL JOHN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41A17/44; (IPC1-7): F41A17/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CLEMENT, MICHELLE RENEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID S ALAVI (EUGENE, OR, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A firearm safety method, comprising: inserting a first end of an elongated member of a firearm safety apparatus into a discharge end of a barrel of a firearm, the firearm safety apparatus comprising: (i) an elongated member, the elongated member having a transversely enlarged barrel cap segment thereof and a plurality of transverse protrusions longitudinally spaced apart along the elongated member between the first end and the barrel cap segment, the transverse protrusions being smaller in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel so as to enable passage of the elongated member and transverse protrusions thereof through the barrel, and (ii) a retaining member, the retaining member having a longitudinal hole therethrough, the hole being adapted for receiving therethrough the elongated member and transverse protrusions thereof; pushing the elongated member further into the barrel of the firearm so that the first end thereof emerges from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof, the elongated member being sufficiently long therefor; inserting the first end of the elongated member through the hole in the retaining member; urging the transversely enlarged barrel cap segment of the elongated member against the discharge end of the barrel, the barrel cap segment being larger in transverse extent than an inner diameter of the barrel so as to prevent the barrel cap segment from passing into the barrel; sliding the retaining member along the elongated member in an insertion direction and urging the retaining member against the firearm, the retaining member being larger in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel so as to prevent the retaining member from passing into the barrel; and engaging one of the transverse protrusions of the elongated member with the hole through the retaining member, the hole being adapted therefor, thereby retaining the elongated member in the hole through the retaining member.

2. The method of claim 1, at least one of the first end, the barrel cap segment, and the retaining member being brightly colored, thereby enabling an observer to readily ascertain the safety status of a firearm by visual inspection.

3. The method of claim 2, at least one of the first end, the barrel cap segment, and the retaining member being orange in color.

4. The method of claim 1, at least one of the elongated member and the retaining member being formed from a resilient polymeric material.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising: disengaging the engaged one of the transverse protrusions from the hole through the retaining member; removing the retaining member from the elongated member in a removal direction, the removal direction being opposite the insertion direction; and removing the elongated member from the barrel, the transverse protrusions of the elongated member and the hole through the retaining member being further adapted for enabling disengagement of the engaged one of the transverse protrusions from the hole and passage of the elongated member and the transverse protrusions thereof through the hole as the retaining member is removed in the removal direction.

6. The method of claim 5, the hole through the retaining member including a central portion and at least one radially-extending slot, the central portion of the hole being at least as large in transverse extent as segments of the elongated member between transverse protrusions thereof, the central portion of the hole being smaller in transverse extent than the transverse protrusions, the retaining member being formed from material sufficiently resilient so as to enable the transverse protrusions to pass through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the insertion direction when a sufficient insertion force is applied by a user, sufficiently rigid so as to substantially prevent the transverse protrusions from passing through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the removal direction in the absence of sufficient removal force applied by a user, and sufficiently resilient so as to enable the transverse protrusions to pass through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the removal direction when a sufficient removal force is applied by a user.

7. The method of claim 6, at least one transverse protrusion having a longitudinally tapered shape, the transverse extent of the transverse protrusion decreasing toward the first end of the elongated member so that the sufficient insertion force that is less than the sufficient removal force.

8. The method of claim 1, the first end of the elongated member being angled so as to facilitate emergence of the first end from the barrel after insertion of the elongated member therethrough.

9. The method of claim 1, the retaining member comprising a flattened member substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal hole therethrough.

10. The method of claim 1, the barrel cap segment including a flattened member substantially perpendicular elongated member.

11. The method of claim 1, the barrel cap segment including a tapered segment adapted for insertion into the discharge end of the barrel.

12. A firearm safety apparatus, comprising: an elongated member, the elongated member having a first end thereof, a transversely enlarged barrel cap segment thereof, and a plurality of transverse protrusions longitudinally spaced apart along the elongated member between the first end and the barrel cap segment, the barrel cap segment being larger in transverse extent than an inner diameter of a barrel of a firearm so as to prevent the barrel cap segment from passing into the barrel, the transverse protrusions being smaller in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel so as to enable passage of the elongated member and transverse protrusions thereof through the barrel, the elongated member being sufficiently long so as to enable insertion of the first end thereof into a discharge end of the barrel of the firearm and emergence of the first end thereof from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof; and a retaining member, the retaining member having a longitudinal hole therethrough, the hole being adapted for receiving therethrough the elongated member and transverse protrusions thereof, the hole being further adapted for engaging one of the transverse protrusions thereby retaining the elongated member in the hole through the retaining member, the retaining member being larger in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel so as to prevent the retaining member from passing into the barrel.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, at least one of the first end, the barrel cap segment, and the retaining member being brightly colored, thereby enabling an observer to readily ascertain the safety status of a firearm by visual inspection.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, at least one of the first end, the barrel cap segment, and the retaining member being orange in color.

15. The apparatus of claim 12, at least one of the elongated member and the retaining member being formed from a resilient polymeric material.

16. The apparatus of claim 12, the transverse protrusions of the elongated member and the hole through the retaining member being further adapted for enabling disengagement of the engaged one of the transverse protrusions from the hole and passage of the elongated member and the transverse protrusions thereof through the hole as the retaining member is removed in a removal direction, the removal direction being opposite the insertion direction.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, the hole through the retaining member including a central portion and at least one radially-extending slot, the central portion of the hole being at least as large in transverse extent than segments of the elongated member between transverse protrusions thereof, the central portion of the hole being smaller in transverse extent than the transverse protrusions, the retaining member being formed from material sufficiently resilient so as to enable the transverse protrusions to pass through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the insertion direction when a sufficient insertion force is applied by a user, sufficiently rigid so as to substantially prevent the transverse protrusions from passing through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the removal direction in the absence of sufficient removal force applied by a user, and sufficiently resilient so as to enable the transverse protrusions to pass through the hole as the retaining member slides along the elongated member in the removal direction when a sufficient removal force is applied by a user.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, at least one transverse protrusion having a longitudinally tapered shape, the transverse extent of the transverse protrusion decreasing toward the first end of the elongated member so that the sufficient insertion force that is less than the sufficient removal force.

19. The apparatus of claim 12, the first end of the elongated member being angled so as to facilitate emergence of the first end from the barrel after insertion of the elongated member therethrough.

20. The apparatus of claim 12, the retaining member comprising a flattened member substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal hole therethrough.

21. The apparatus of claim 12, the barrel cap segment including a flattened member substantially perpendicular elongated member.

22. The apparatus of claim 12, the barrel cap segment including a tapered segment adapted for insertion into the discharge end of the barrel.

23. A firearm safety method, comprising: inserting a first end of an elongated member of a firearm safety apparatus into a discharge end of a barrel of a firearm, the elongated member having a first end thereof and means for preventing a second end thereof from passing into the barrel; pushing the elongated member further into the barrel of the firearm so that the first end of the elongated member emerges from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof, the elongated member being sufficiently long therefor; and retaining the first end of the elongated member outside the barrel after emergence thereof from the barrel.

24. he method of claim 23, further comprising: releasing the first end of the elongated member; and removing the elongated member from the barrel.

25. A firearm safety apparatus, comprising: an elongated member, the elongated member having a first end thereof and means for preventing a second end thereof from passing into the barrel, the elongated member being sufficiently long so as to enable insertion of the first end thereof into a discharge end of the barrel of the firearm and emergence of the first end thereof from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof; and means for retaining the first end of the elongated member outside the barrel after emergence thereof from the barrel.

26. The apparatus of claim 25, further comprising means for releasing the first end of the elongated member and enabling removal of the elongated member from the barrel.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit of prior-filed co-pending provisional App. No. 60/382,255 entitled “Safe gun” filed Mar. 12, 2002 in the name of Randall John Clark, said provisional application being hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

[0002] This application is related to subject matter disclosed in prior-filed co-pending design App. No. 29/161,052 entitled “Safe gun” filed Mar. 12, 2002 in the name of Randall John Clark, said design application being hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND

[0003] The field of the present invention relates to firearm safety. In particular, firearm safety lockout and indicator apparatus and methods are described herein.

[0004] There are numerous situations in which firearms must be handled, and in which an accidental discharge would be dangerous, if not tragic. Such situations may include (but are not limited to): law enforcement agencies, security agencies, intelligence agencies, defense agencies, military posts/bases/installations, airport security checkpoints, other security checkpoints, other locations where weapons might be confiscated or checked, crime scenes, property and/or evidence rooms, forensic laboratories, ballistics laboratories, courtrooms, weapons lockers, armories, firing ranges, target ranges, gun sellers/vendors/dealers, gun shows, marksmanship competitions, hunting outings, hunting lodges, campgrounds, and any other location or situation where firearms may be present and in which it would be desirable to prevent accidental discharge of the firearms and enable an observer to readily ascertain whether a firearm would definitely be safe to handle or that extra care should be exercised.

SUMMARY

[0005] A firearm safety apparatus comprises an elongated member, including a first end thereof and means for preventing a second end thereof from passing into a barrel of a firearm, and means for retaining the first end of the elongated member outside the barrel. The elongated member is sufficiently long so as to enable insertion of the first end thereof into a discharge end of the barrel of the firearm and emergence of the first end thereof from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof. The retaining means are engaged with the elongated member after emergence of the first end from the barrel. The apparatus may further comprise means for releasing the first end of the elongated member and enabling removal of the elongated member from the barrel. A firearm safety method includes the steps of inserting the elongated member into the discharge end of the firearm barrel, through the barrel, and out of the barrel at a point other than the discharge end thereof. The retaining means are engaged with the elongated member so as to retain the first end outside the barrel.

[0006] The elongated member may include a transversely enlarged barrel cap segment larger in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel for preventing passage of the second end of the elongated member through the barrel. The means for retaining the first end of the elongated member outside the barrel may include a plurality of transverse protrusions longitudinally spaced apart along the elongated member between the barrel cap segment and the first end, and a retaining member with a longitudinal hole therethrough. The retaining member is larger in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel. The hole is adapted for receiving therethrough the elongated member and transverse protrusions, and for engaging one of the protrusions for retaining the elongated member within the hole. The hole and/or protrusions may be adapted for enabling disengagement and removal of the elongated member from the hole through the retaining member and removal of the elongated member from the barrel, and may be further adapted for facilitating insertion of the elongated member through the hole while resisting removal of the elongated member from the hole.

[0007] With the firearm safety apparatus inserted through the barrel and the retaining member engaged, the firearm cannot be discharged. The presence (or lack) of the firearm safety apparatus thus installed may be readily ascertained by visual inspection, enabling an observer to determine whether a firearm is definitely safe to handle (firearm safety apparatus present and installed), or if extra care should be exercised when handling the firearm (firearm safety apparatus not present or not installed). The firearm safety apparatus may be brightly colored (hunter's orange is particularly suitable) for facilitating such observation.

[0008] Objects and advantages of the present invention may become apparent upon referring to the disclosed exemplary embodiments as illustrated in the drawings and disclosed in the following written description and/or claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIGS. 1 and 2 are side and end views, respectively, of an elongated member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0010] FIGS. 3 and 4 are end and side views, respectively, of a retaining member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0011] FIG. 5 shows an exemplary firearm safety apparatus installed on a firearm.

[0012] FIG. 6 shows an exemplary firearm safety apparatus installed on a firearm.

[0013] FIG. 7 shows an exemplary firearm safety apparatus installed on a firearm.

[0014] FIG. 8 shows an exemplary firearm safety apparatus installed on a firearm.

[0015] FIG. 9 shows an exemplary firearm safety apparatus installed on a firearm.

[0016] FIG. 10 illustrates a firearm safety method.

[0017] FIG. 11 shows a portion of an elongated member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0018] FIG. 12 is an end view of a retaining member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0019] FIGS. 13A and 13B illustrate engagement of a retaining member and an elongated member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0020] FIG. 14 shows a portion of an elongated member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0021] FIGS. 15A and 15B illustrate engagement of a retaining member and an elongated member of an exemplary firearm safety apparatus.

[0022] The embodiments shown in the Figures are exemplary, and should not be construed as limiting the scope of the present disclosure and/or appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0023] A firearm safety apparatus comprises an elongated member 100 and a retaining member 200, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. The elongated member includes a transversely enlarged barrel cap segment 110, and a plurality of transverse protrusions 120 longitudinally spaced apart along the elongated member between the barrel cap segment 110 and the end 140 of the elongated member. The transverse protrusions 120 are smaller in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel of a firearm that is to be secured with the firearm safety apparatus, thereby enabling passage of the elongated member 100 and transverse protrusions thereof through the barrel. Firearm safety apparatus all having the same transverse size (for the transverse protrusions) may be provided, the transverse size being sufficiently small for insertion through the barrel of the smallest caliber firearm anticipated. Alternatively, a variety of firearm safety apparatus may be provided having differing sizes for the transverse protrusions, and the appropriate size chosen for use with firearms of a particular caliber. The elongated member 100 is sufficiently long so that upon insertion into the discharge end of the firearm barrel, end 140 may emerge from the barrel at a point other than the discharge end. The required length varies depending on the particular firearm to be secured. Handguns may be secured by elongated members between about 6 inches long and about 18 inches long, typically between about 8 inches long and about 12 inches long, commonly around 10 inches long. Rifles and shotgun may be secured by elongated members several feet in length. Differing lengths for the elongated member may be manufactured and the appropriate length chosen for a particular firearm. Alternatively, a single length may be provided that is sufficiently long for securing the longest firearm anticipated, and the elongated member may be cut down to shorter length, if desired, when used with shorter firearms.

[0024] The transversely enlarged barrel cap segment 110 is larger in transverse extent than the inner diameter of the barrel, so as to prevent the barrel cap segment from passing into the barrel. Barrel cap segment 110 is shown in the exemplary embodiments as a flattened disk and a tapering section. The tapering section is adapted for sliding into the discharge end of the barrel and somewhat centering the disk over the barrel end. The diameter of the disk is larger than the inner diameter of the barrel, so that the disk cannot enter the barrel. The configuration of barrel end cap segment 110 shown in the Figures is only one example of many that may be employed while remaining within the scope of the present disclosure and/or appended claims. Any shape may be employed, provided the barrel end cap segment is sufficiently large in transverse extent so as to substantially prevent its passage through the barrel of the firearm. Firearm safety apparatus may be provided in a range of barrel end cap sizes and selected for use based on the particular caliber of the firearm. Alternatively, a single barrel end cap size may be provided sufficiently large to enable use with the largest caliber firearm anticipated, which would also be suitable for smaller caliber firearms. If adapted in the manner shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the flattened disk is larger than the barrel inner diameter, while the tapering section is no larger than the barrel inner diameter. A variety of safety devices thus adapted with differing tapering barrel end caps may be provided for particular firearm calibers, or a single firearm safety apparatus may be provided for use with all anticipated firearms, with the disk being large enough for the largest anticipated caliber and the tapering section small enough for the smallest anticipated caliber.

[0025] An exemplary retaining member 200 is shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The retaining member comprises a flattened disk with a hole 210 therethrough. When in use, hole 210 is substantially aligned along a longitudinal direction relative to the elongated member 100, while the flattened disk is aligned substantially transversely relative to the elongated member. When in use, the end 140 of the elongated member is received through the hole 210, and the retaining member 200 then slides along the elongated member 100 in an insertion direction. The retaining member 200 is larger in transverse extent than the barrel of the firearm, thereby preventing passage of the retaining member 200 through the barrel of the firearm. A single size for retaining member 200 may be provided sufficiently large for use with the largest caliber firearm anticipated. Alternatively, a variety a sizes for retaining member 200 may be provided, and an appropriate size chosen for use with a particular firearm. The hole 210 through retaining member 200 is adapted for enabling the elongated member 100 (and transverse protrusion thereof) to pass therethrough as the retaining member moves along the elongated member in the insertion direction, and for engaging one of the transverse protrusions thereby retaining the elongated member 100 within the hole 210.

[0026] A firearm safety method is illustrated in FIG. 10, which shows installation of a firearm safety apparatus as disclosed herein on a firearm 300. Various firearms are shown in FIGS. 5 through 9 with an installed firearm safety apparatus. The first end 140 of the elongated member 100 is inserted into the discharge end of barrel 310. The elongated member is pushed further into the barrel until end 140 emerges from barrel 310 at a point other than the discharge end. End 140 is inserted through the hole 210 of retaining member 200. The barrel cap segment 110 is urged against the discharge end of barrel 310, and the retaining member 200 is slid along the elongated member 100 in an insertion direction and urged against the barrel 310 or against some other portion of the firearm 300 (if it is too large to reach the barrel). One of the transverse protrusions 120 is engaged with the hole 210 for retaining the elongated member 100 within the hole 210 through the retaining member 200, thereby also holding the firearm safety apparatus on the firearm after installation.

[0027] With the firearm safety apparatus thus installed, the firearm is rendered safe for handling without risk of accidental discharge. The presence of the elongated member 100 within the barrel and the presence of retaining member 200 outside the barrel prevents chambering of an ammunition round and proper operation of the firing mechanism, and may also prevent loading of ammunition into the firearm.

[0028] Use of a firearm safety apparatus as disclosed herein enables an observer to readily ascertain the status of a firearm by visual inspection. The barrel end cap 110, the end 140 of the elongated member 100, and the retaining member 200 are all clearly visible outside the firearm when the firearm safety apparatus is installed on a firearm (as in FIGS. 5 through 9). If an observer sees one or more of these on the firearm, than he/she can be certain that the firearm cannot discharge and is therefore safe to handle. If none of these objects are observed, then the observer is warned that extreme care should be exercised when handling the firearm, in case it is loaded and ready to discharge. A safety apparatus as disclosed herein may be brightly colored to facilitate such observation of the safety status of the firearm. Any bright color may be employed, including (but not limited to) orange (hunter's orange), red, yellow, or other colors, including colors typically used to indicate danger, hazards, or caution required. Multiple, colors may be employed. Fluorescent colors may be employed for further enhancing visibility. One or more of the barrel end cap 110, the end 140 of the elongated member, and the retaining member 200 (i.e., the parts still visible when the firearm safety apparatus is installed on a firearm; see FIGS. 5 through 10) may be colored, or the entire firearm safety apparatus may be colored.

[0029] Elongated member 100 may be formed from a resilient polymeric material, typically an injection-molded material. Such materials may include, but are not limited to, polypropylene, polyethylene, various other plastics, nylon, high density thermoplastic, combinations thereof, and/or functional equivalents thereof. The elongated member is sufficiently rigid to enable insertion though the firearm barrel to emerge at another point of the barrel, while being sufficiently resilient to bend as need to emerge from the barrel, and to allow the retaining member 200 to be urged against the firearm. The end 140 may be angled to facilitate emergence from side openings in the barrel of certain firearms (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2). Other materials could also be employed, such as resilient metal wire, for example. Care may be needed to protect the inner barrel surface from damage from a metal wire, however, by providing it with a protective coating or barrier, for example.

[0030] The spaced apart transverse protrusions 120 (with intervening segments 130 of the elongated member 100) are adapted, along with hole 210 through retaining member 200, for enabling sliding of the retaining member 200 along the elongated member 100 in an insertion direction and passage of the elongated member 100 through hole 210, and retention of the elongated member within the hole (to hold the firearm safety apparatus on the firearm after installation). Examples of such adaptations are shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. Hole 210 is shown having a central portion and a pair of radially extending slots. The central portion of the hole 210 may be sufficiently large to accommodate segments 130 therethrough, but may be smaller in transverse extent than the transverse protrusions 120. In this example retaining member 200 is formed form a resilient polymeric material (such as the materials recited hereinabove for elongated member 100). The slots and the resilient properties of the retaining members enable transverse protrusions 120 to pass through the hole (and the retianing member to move in the insertion direction) when a user supplies a sufficient insertion force. In the absence of sufficient removal force applied by a user, a transverse protrusion 120 engages hole 210 and retains the elongated member 100 within the hole 210 through retaining member 200. Application of sufficient removal force by a user results in disengagement of the transverse protrusion 120 from the hole 210 and sliding of the retaining member 200 along the elongated member 100 in a removal direction (i.e. opposite the insertion direction) and off of the elongated member, enabling the user to remove the firearm safety apparatus from the firearm.

[0031] The transverse protrusions 120 and/or hole 210 may be adapted so that the sufficient insertion force and the sufficient removal force differ, the removal force typically being larger than the insertion force (those this need not always be he case). In an extreme example, transverse protrusions 120 and/or hole 210 may be adapted so that the sufficient removal force exceeds a material failure limit for the elongated member and/or the retaining member. In other words, once installed the firearm safety device can be removed from the firearm only by cutting it or breaking it, and it may not be reused. Some sort of ratchet- or pawl-type mechanism for transverse protrusions 120 and hole 210 might be employed in such an example (not shown). In FIG. 1 transverse protrusions 120 are shown as circumferential flanges extending radially outward from the elongated member and tapered longitudinally, with the transverse extent of protrusion 120 decreasing toward end 140 of the elongated member 100. This tapered shape facilitates insertion of the elongated member 100 and transverse protrusions thereof through hole 210 as the retaining member slides in the insertion direction (i.e., reduces the insertion force required). The removal force is typically larger, since there is no taper to assist passage of protrusions 120 through hole 210 as retaining member 200 slides in the removal direction. Many other adaptations and/or mechanisms may be provided for transverse protrusions 120 and/or hole 210 for (i) enabling insertion of the elongated member through the hole with an insertion force, (ii) retaining the retaining member on the elongated member, and/or (iii) enabling or deterring removal of the elongated member from the hole. Many such adaptations are known in the art, and shall fall within the scope of the present disclosure and/or appended claims. A few examples include (but are not limited to): spherical protrusions 120 (FIG. 11); crossed slots with no central portion for hole 210 in a resilient retaining member 200 (FIG. 12); flattened radially extending longitudinal flanges 120 which only pass through a slotted hole 210 when rotated to the correct position (retaining member 200 need not be resilient; FIGS. 13A/13B); saw tooth protrusions 120 (FIG. 14); retaining member 200 (not necessarily resilient) with a hole and adjoining slot, the slot accommodating segments 130 when retaining the elongated member, and the protrusions passing through the hole for insertion removal (FIGS. 15A/15B).

[0032] It is intended that modifications to the disclosed embodiments may be made without departing from inventive concepts disclosed and/or claimed herein.