Proper Gun Storage: Tips for Safe and Secure Guns Storage

Shawnna Stiver
February 23, 2023
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Gun ownership is an American pastime that can bring a sense of security, a source of sustenance, or simply a way to recreate outdoors with friends and family. But there are risks too. Responsible gun owners like you know the importance of educating yourself about the rules of gun safety and storage. Read on for tips about the proper way to store your firearms. 

Proper gun storage saves lives

Assuming that a child will not find a firearm “hidden” in the home is a mistake that ends in tragedy all too often in the United States. And not just with older kids. Children as young as toddlers can physically pull the trigger on a gun.  

Bottom line? All guns must be stored unloaded, locked up, and separate from ammunition.

Consider these chilling facts about children and firearms:

  • 54% of gun owners don’t lock all of their guns securely
  • 4.6 million children live in homes with unsecured firearms
  • Every year, 350 children in the United States unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else 
  • The U.S. Secret Service found that nearly three quarters of school shooters obtained their firearm from the home of a parent or relative 

Launched in 2015, the organization Be SMART provides helpful resources and guidance for keeping guns out of the hands of kids. Spreading the word about safe gun storage is the heart of its mission. Law enforcement, school boards, community groups of all kinds, and even NFL athletes have joined on to support this critical work to keep kids safe. 

Be SMART also addresses understandable concerns from gun owners. For example, some gun owners wonder what happens in an emergency when their firearm is necessary for self-defense? According to Be SMART, “there are many options for secure gun storage that provide owners with access to guns in a matter of seconds while still preventing access by children and people at increased risk of harming themselves or others.” Locking devices that can be opened by keypad or fingerprint are referenced as safe choices for gun owners who may need fast access to their stored firearms.

Can I store guns in a storage unit?

You may have considered storing guns off-site to keep them out of the hands of kids or unauthorized users. However, a storage unit is not the answer. You cannot store firearms of any kind in a storage unit. In fact, guns make the list of the top ten things you can’t put into a storage unit. The reasons for this are varied, but consider that storage units frequently end up at auction. Imagine a stored gun falling into the wrong hands after the contents of an auctioned unit are turned over to its new owner. 

Every rule has an exception, and in some cases you may be able to find niche storage operators willing to store a firearm. You will likely have to get special licensing and go through an extended process, which is why the vast majority of gun owners store guns at home.  

How to keep guns safe at home

Properly storing your guns at home is a non-negotiable for responsible gun owners. Doing so not only prevents your guns from getting stolen, it also ensures that they are out of reach for kids or anyone who might pose a risk to themselves or others. The key is finding a storage solution that fits your needs. Full-size gun safes, vehicle gun safes, and lock boxes all provide reassurance that your guns are accessible when you need them, but stored securely to prevent accidents or theft. This Guide to Secure Gun Storage Devices can help you decide which type of storage is right for you.

Once you’ve made the decision about the type of safe you’ll need, follow these gun safe tips, adapted from Bass Pro Shop, about how to store firearms correctly. 

  • Record the combination in several secure locations away from the safe itself
  • Create an inventory of both ammunition and guns, including serial numbers
  • Remove guns from gun cases to ensure cool, dry air can circulate freely 
  • Clean your guns thoroughly before storing them, including fingerprints which can lead to rust
  • Carefully consider gun placement within the safe to avoid nicks and overcrowding
  • Invest in a dehumidifier to ensure guns are stored at 50% humidity or less 
  • Bolt your gun safe to the floor to prevent theft

Rules of gun safety

When it’s time to remove guns from storage, it’s always a good idea to refresh your memory on gun safety measures. Even the most experienced gun owners can make a small mistake that leads to tragedy, but the good news is that nearly all gun-related accidents can be prevented by keeping the rules top of mind. The Firearm Industry Trade Association offers this helpful guidance for safe gun handling:

  • Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction
  • Check what lies beyond your target 
  • Unload firearms when not in use
  • Assume every gun could fire at any time
  • Pay close attention to each cartridge you load to avoid the use of incorrect or unsafe ammunition 
  • Wear eye and ear protection when firing
  • Clean the bore and check for obstructions in the gun barrel  
  • Have all firearms inspected and adjusted regularly 

By storing guns properly and following the straightforward firearm handling rules referenced above, you and your family can safely enjoy the many benefits of responsible gun ownership.


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