How To Keep Firearms Safe In Your Home

Gun safety starts with keeping firearms out of unauthorized hands. Here are several lock and safe options that will keep your guns safely secured in your home.

How To Keep Firearms Safe In Your Home
Photograph Courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation
Keeping firearms locked and safe is every gunowner’s responsibility.

Perhaps you’ve finally taken the leap and purchased your first firearm. Or maybe you’re thinking about buying your first handgun or longarm. Either way, owning a firearm requires that every owner be responsible for the safe handling and storage of guns.

Proper training is a must to ensure safety. Most gun ranges offer entry-level classes. Your local gun dealer may also help you find some local classes. But it’s equally important for gunowners to have a full understanding of how to keep firearms safe in the home.

Understanding the Basics

Photograph Courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation
When purchasing your first firearm, ask your dealer about lock and safe options to keep your firearms secured from unauthorized hands.

Part of the responsibility that comes with being a new gunowner is keeping your firearm safe in your home. It is your responsibility to control access to the firearm. You certainly want children and their playmates to be safe. You may also be worried about theft and want to be sure your firearm is safe and inaccessible to unauthorized hands. On the other hand, you understand the dichotomy of needing a firearm at ready access to protect yourself and your family if the need arises. Fortunately, there are a number of resources and options available for safely storing firearms in your home.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides an excellent resource for gunowners through their Project Child Safe web page. The page is full of helpful information; all supporting the motto: “Own it – Respect it – Secure it.”

Much of the content is about storing guns safely. The educational value of this website is invaluable, for new gun owners as well as seasoned veterans. There is even an offer for a free safety kit that includes a gun lock.

To begin to better understand safe gun storage, let’s look at the options you can choose from.

Gun Locks

Photograph Courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation
Cable locks, like those provided free through Project Child Safe, block the gun from going into battery so it cannot be loaded or fired.

The most common safety device is a gun lock of some kind. Most new guns ship with a lock. If you bought your firearm used or do not like the lock that came with it, your local dealer can help you find the right kind of lock. While you’re exploring safe storage options, be sure you fully understand and obey your state and local laws concerning firearm storage in your home as laws many vary depending on where you live.

There are several types of locks for guns. 

Built-in Locks: Some companies build locks into their guns that require a key to unlock the firearm.

Chamber locks block ammunition from being loaded into the firearm.

Trigger locks typically cover and block the trigger. Usually they will be two pieces that come together from either side behind the trigger and are locked in place. They are unlocked with a key or combination, depending on the type of lock. Trigger locks physically prevent the trigger from being depressed to discharge the firearm.

Cable locks usually thread into the receiver through the open ejection port. These locks physically block the gun from going into battery so it cannot be loaded and fired.

One problem with any of these locks is that they can be easily defeated with simple tools. The best way to store your firearm safely from unauthorized use or theft is a gun safe.

Quick Tip: Never put a lock on a loaded gun as that can make it even more dangerous.


Full-Size Safes

Photograph Courtesy of Browning
Full-size safes, like this one from Browning, offer the ultimate protection for firearms, valuables and documents.

Quality safes can be a bit expensive, but they can also keep your jewelry, cash or other valuables safe. Beware of inexpensive safes as they may simply be a locked cabinet that can be easily opened with a pry bar and are light enough to carry off the entire safe and contents.

Buy a safe with a solid vault door that has locking bolts and thick walls. These are heavy enough to prevent theft and the door cannot be easily breeched. These high-quality safes usually have fire protection to keep your valuables safe in the event of a fire.

The safest approach is to store the guns unloaded in a safe and to store the ammo in a different location, also under lock. This adds an extra layer of inaccessibility to any unauthorized access to the firearm. 

Quick-Access Safes

Photograph Courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation
Quick-access safes are perfect for keeping firearms safely stored but accessible in moments simply by tapping in a code, using a key fob or through fingerprint identification.

In the event you wish to keep a handgun bedside for self-defense against a home invasion there are a wide range of single gun safes for this use. Some are biometric and use your fingerprints to open. Others have a simple combination that you punch into a keypad to open. Some, like the Hornady RAPiD Safe are RFID (radio-frequency identification) activated. A wristband, key fob or decal is held next to the safe to instantly open the spring-assist lid. They also have a keypad for back-up, or in the event you do not have a RFID entry tool available. Most of these safes have a cable lock that can be secured to something solid to prevent theft.

If you have just purchased a handgun and do not have the resources for a large gun safe, these one-gun safes provide a much less expensive alternative. They can be stored inside a locked cabinet to add another layer of security. They can be hidden in a wall or under the floor. One approach is to secure one high and hidden on top of a bookshelf. You can reach it if needed, but the kids won’t know it is there and have no way to access it if they do. This approach keeps your handgun safe from unauthorized access, but still readily available in the event you need to keep yourself and family safe. 

Taking the Mystery out of Firearms Ownership:

If you keep a gun as “forbidden fruit” from your children, they will only become more curious about it. Taking the mystery out of firearms ownership and imparting the rules of gun safety is important and it should begin at an early age.

My kids were raised around firearms so there was never any mystery. I took them hunting when they were still very young. I gave them toy guns and later BB guns to carry and always insisted that they follow the safety rules. Rather than beat them over the head with those rules, we just made them part of our lives. By the time they were old enough to use a firearm, safety was already deeply imprinted into their behavior.

While hunting they witnessed the destructive power of a firearm, which was an important lesson. I also took them shooting a lot. Above all, I let them know that if there was ever any gun they wanted to see or shoot, all they had to do was ask. As a result, they have been responsible around firearms their entire lives.


Other Considerations

You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of your loved ones. That may well be why you have decided to buy a gun. That decision comes with responsibilities. It’s imperative that you know your state and local laws on the use of deadly force for self-defense. It’s also a good idea to buy insurance if the worse happens. This will help find legal representation and help with the financial burden.

Firearms ownership is an important aspect of our freedom, but it carries a responsibility. Safe storage of your firearms is a big part of that responsibility. Respect your firearms and store them safely. In return you will have the security of knowing that you can protect yourself and your loved ones. You will also find that the shooting sports are challenging and exciting. From simple target shooting to participating in competitions, shooting is fun and very gratifying.

The door you open with that first firearm can lead to a huge world to be explored and enjoyed. Just make sure you do it responsibly. 

About The Author: Bryce M. Towsley has been writing about guns for 36 years and has published thousands of articles in most of the major firearms magazines. He has hunted all over the world and is a competition shooter in several disciplines. Towsley has several books available on guns, shooting and hunting as well as an adventure novel, The 14th Reinstated. Signed books are available on his website

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