After gun-control activists criticized Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for keeping pistols under her pillow, the new appointee dutifully moved them to an undisclosed location in her home.  Did Gillibrand agree that the guns posed a risk for her children or pander to defuse a potential primary threat — or both?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has moved the two rifles that she kept under the bed to protect her upstate New York home, her spokesman said Monday.

“Given that the location of the guns has been disclosed, they have been moved for security reasons,” Gillibrand’s spokesman Matt Canter said.

She relocated the guns over the weekend while upstate to endorse Democrat Scott Murphy in the March 31 election to replace her in the 20th District, he said.

He also said Gillibrand, mother of a 5-year-old and an infant, kept the ammunition separate from the empty guns, and then later called to add that the rifles were locked in a case while stored under the bed. She had refused to describe her gun safety measures.

Full disclosure: while I enthusiastically support gun rights and ownership, I do not own a firearm myself, nor have I since being married.  The First Mate had serious reservations about having weapons in the same house as a curious young boy, although I myself grew up with guns in the house, including pistols, a shotgun, and a rifle.  The Admiral Emeritus carefully explained that the guns could cause me great bodily harm, ie, if I touched them, he’d kill me and replace me with another one just like me.  As firearm-safety classes go, that was very effective.

It sounds as though Gillibrand took gun safety in the home seriously.  She kept the ammunition separate from the weapons, and locked the rifles at least.  As long as she did that, the firearms represented no threat to her children.  Maybe the pillow isn’t the most effective hiding place, but for people concerned about overnight burglaries, it’s less a hiding place and more of a quick-access location.

This sounds like a retreat based on pandering, and it’s a shame, because it represents a lost opportunity to remind people that a safely-stored gun is no more dangerous than a steak knife.  Obviously Gillibrand faces a challenge in being an NRA member for a statewide election in 2010 that will heavily rely on convincing gun-banners in the Big Apple to support her, but her retreat makes it look like she thinks she did something wrong, rather than defend common-sense gun ownership.