When you are a gun owner you are taking on a lot of responsibility. I am not just talking about safe gun handling at the range or while hunting, I also mean the safe storage of your firearms. Whether you have just one gun or a whole collection you are responsible for your guns 24 hours a day.
Safe gun storage can be accomplished several ways, and often depends on your life situation. If you have young children or teenagers in the home you may store guns differently than if you live alone or only with adults.
Children are always curious, you may think your five year old can’t reach that top closet shelf, but they seem to find a way. Even if you have raised your children to be comfortable with guns and are well trained in gun safety you need to plan for visitors both invited and uninvited.
A locking device such as a trigger housing lock or a cable lock through the guns action on an unloaded gun will likely prevent a young child from having a negligent discharge, but will do nothing to prevent the theft of your guns. Never install a trigger housing lock on a loaded gun as most of these devices have a bar that passes near the trigger and if it is manipulated strongly may depress the trigger.
Additionally a trade-off between security and quick access needs to be made if your firearms are for home defense. Storing your handgun in the nightstand is never a good idea, it WILL be found by a child and is the first place a burglar will look.
If quick access is desired there are many gun vault type devices for handguns and long guns that will allow you access to the gun in a hurry. Trying to find a key in the middle of the night or punching in a combination when your adrenaline is high and your heart is beating a mile a minute in little or low light is very difficult. Many newer (and more expensive) gun vaults have a simple touch pattern, or a biometric device to read fingerprints of one or more persons in the home.
When I first began acquiring firearms I purchased a gun storage cabinet. These thin walled steel cabinets can be purchased for $90 to $150 and can be effective storage to prevent access by young children; however adolescents or a determined thief will have no problem prying open the door. While a beautiful wood gun cabinet with a locking glass door is a great looking piece of furniture, it provides no deterrent to someone that wants to steal your guns. It may actually invite theft or misuse by highlighting the presence of guns in your home.
There is no substitute for a REAL gun safe, available in many sizes depending on the number of firearms you need to store. These safes have doors like a bank vault with multiple moving locking pins at least an inch in diameter. Made of very thick steel these safes are extremely heavy, ranging from 500 lbs. to well over 1500 lbs. Obviously careful thought must be taken with a device this heavy so check the load bearing capability of your floors.
A good safe will have a fire protection rating in minutes of protection for a given temperature and are good for more than just guns. Many people also use them for their valuable paperwork, jewelry and computer back-up storage. If you are placing your safe where it may be humid, remember to purchase a safe dehumidifier to protect your guns from rust.
Next month: Gun storage in your vehicle.
Until then …….Safe Shooting!