How to Safely Store Guns at Home
According to Rand Corporation published research from 2001, 34% of children in the United States live in a home with a firearm present. That equates to 22 million children living in 11 million homes nationwide.
Data shared by Statista.com shows that as of 2021, about 42% of homes in the United States house a firearm. Since many firearms, even legally acquired ones, remain unregistered those numbers are difficult to determine. Regardless, there are enough homes with firearms in them that it’s important to discuss how to store them safely.
Tips for Safe Gun Storage
Whether or not there are children in a household with firearms, storing guns and ammunition responsibly should be a priority.
Lock Them Up
Not only should firearms be locked up, but they should be stored separately from ammo, and other valuables. The safe or cabinet should be in a cool, dry location in your home, and the key should be kept with you or in another spot of your home.
Popular Secure Storage Options for Firearms
The type of storage you choose will depend on the type(s) of firearm(s) you own, as well as the space you have available for a safe or lockbox. Here are some popular options for secure storage:
- The Gun Box
- The Gun Vault
- Sentry Safes
- Browning Safes or Vault Doors
Notice how a nightstand drawer wasn’t listed? Even one that locks is not a secure option for storing a firearm. The choices listed above are tested to resist sledgehammers, long drops, and attempts to be pried open. They feature keyless access, alarms, and are fire-secure. You can even invest in a safe that has GPS, or one that fits anywhere from a single firearm to 51. If you opt for a Browning vault door, you can turn any room in your house into a secure area for gun storage.
The thicker, the safe, the tougher and more expensive it will be. Steel is considered fire-resistant, but the gauge isn’t necessarily a factor. You don’t need to upgrade to 10-gauge, which is thicker than 14-gauge, in an attempt to protect the contents from fire. If you want a fire-resistant safe, be sure it’s one sealed with intumescent.
Another layer of security is a trigger lock. This is an attachment for a firearm that fits over the trigger guard. They should be attached only when a gun is unloaded and can be unlocked with a push-button keypad, a combination, or a key. When the trigger lock is engaged, the gun cannot be fired due to a cylinder or trigger “shoe” that is behind the trigger.
STORAGE FOR AMMUNITION
While ammunition does not have to be locked in a safe, it is always best to store it separately from your firearms. Keep it in its original packaging, and store it in a cool, dry place away from solvents and open flames.
Store Them Unloaded
Any gun locked in a cabinet or safe should be done so unloaded and uncocked. Always double-check the chamber before storing your firearm to ensure it’s not loaded.
Unloaded firearms should be stored horizontally if possible. If space doesn’t allow for it, store firearms muzzle down to prevent oil from leaking into the action or wooden handle.
Secure the Safe
However big or small, your gun safe should be secured in place. Large gun safes should be anchored to avoid tipping, and small ones can be bolted to the floor to avoid theft of the entire thing. Securing a safe not only makes them harder to steal but offers additional protection for the firearms inside.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
If possible, store guns and ammo out of sight in your home. This will deter would-be thieves from easily accessing your firearm, and may deter children from succumbing to their natural curiosity. It doesn’t have to be a secret that there are firearms in your home, however.
Should Kids Know There Are Guns in the Home?
In addition to securely storing your firearms and ammo in the ways referenced above, it is important to talk with children about gun safety. Although a stern warning to never touch may not be enough, which is why such emphasis is placed on responsible gun storage.
Teach Children Gun Safety
First and foremost, teach children the importance of not handling firearms without proper supervision. Open up discussions about guns and what your child should do if they come across one.
45 Blast has some tips for firearm safety HERE, including how to start small when getting children familiar with guns. Highlights from the NRA include:
- Always keep a firearm unloaded until it’s going to be used
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re prepared to shoot
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
Routinely go over these gun safety guidelines with your children, and advance their training as they mature.
Can I Store a Gun in My Vehicle?
Sometimes, even with a concealed carry permit, you can’t bring your firearm with you to certain places, such as airports or federal buildings. In that case, can you store your gun in your vehicle?
It is legal to store a firearm in your vehicle, but you should only do so if you have a lockable container designed for it. The lockbox or safe must be concealed from sight, and the ammo should be removed from the firearm. Take note of where your vehicle is parked, as you may not be permitted to store a gun inside if the parking lot has posted restrictions.
Parking Lots That Don’t Allow Firearms
- Correctional Facilities
- Mental Health Facilities
- Military Installations
- Post Offices
If you’re renting a home, whether in a typical suburban neighborhood, apartment complex, or master-planned community, your lease may specify whether or not it’s permissible to store a firearm in your vehicle. Always ask questions if you’re not sure, and find alternative, secure storage for your firearm if necessary.
So, while you can usually store your firearm in your car in your garage or driveway, there are better ways to do so than locking it in a glove compartment or stashing it under the seat. Also, prolonged storage of ammunition in a vehicle that is subject to temperature fluctuations can be detrimental to the performance of your ammo.
Remember that responsible gun handling doesn’t happen just on the range or when hunting; it begins at home with how you store your firearms and talk with your family members about them.