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Safe Storage of Firearms

— October 29, 2018

While owning firearms is a freedom that we enjoy as Americans, owning a gun and having one in the home also comes with serious responsibility.

While owning firearms is a freedom that we enjoy as Americans, owning a gun and having one in the home also comes with serious responsibility.

Specifically, one of the most important elements of the responsibility of owning a gun is storing them safely in your house in order to prevent unauthorized access such as from a child or a burglar.

In this article, we will cover some of the best practices for storing your firearms safely in the home, and then we will also dive into some of the laws that exist with the storage of firearms by state.

Good Firearm Storage Practices

In the world we live in today, there are a number of different methods to practice safe firearm storage.

Some of these storage practices are designed to completely prevent unauthorized access to the firearm, while others are designed to simply make the firearm inoperable should it be accessed.

Trigger Locks

Trigger locks are perhaps the cheapest and simplest option for securing a firearm. Even though they cannot prevent the gun itself from being accessed, they can stop the weapon from being either fired or loaded.

There are a variety of trigger locks as well. For example, the ‘trigger shoe’ lock is designed to clamp down over the trigger of the weapon. Meanwhile, the ‘cable lock’ is designed to stop the action of the firearm from being run.

Gun Cases

Gun cases are incredibly common and can be found for very cheap prices at most sporting goods stores. They can be made out of either soft fabric or high quality and durable plastic. If you go with a durable plastic gun case, you’ll then be able to lock the case from the outside to prevent access to the firearm.

Ruger 9mm in case; image by Robert Nelson, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Ruger 9mm in case; image by Robert Nelson, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

This way, the gun will be kept easily portable just as much as it is secure. Locked carry cases can not only be used for safe storage at home, they can also be used for safe transportation.

A step above a gun case would be a security case, which is essentially designed to give you the protection and security level of a locking gun cabinet with the portability of the gun case.

Speaking of gun cabinets…

Gun Cabinets

Your next option for safely storing a gun at home will be to use a gun cabinet, and specifically one that can be locked from the outside and that is made of steel.

Gun cabinets can be best described as a cheaper alternative to a gun safe. While they don’t provide the water or fire protection of a gun safe, they are much lighter and easier to move around the house, and when locked from the outside they will help stop unauthorized access to your firearms as well.

Gun Safes

Last but not least, gun safes are easily the most secure choice for locking your firearms. Not only do they stop your guns from being accessed by children or burglars or anyone else, they also can protect your guns against moisture and fire damage, depending on the safe you choose.

Furthermore, being much heavier than gun cabinets, gun safes cannot be so easily moved either. This will help serve as a deterrent against burglars who could try attempting to steal the entire safe.

The best gun safe will have a fire protection rating of at least one hour, have enough room to actually store each of your guns, a complex locking mechanism, and the option to bolt the entire safe to your wall or to the floor.

State Laws on Gun Storage

Currently, a number of states in America have laws that pertain directly to gun storage. A total of twenty seven states have laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of children, and eleven have laws that relate directly to locking devices.

Here is a general overview of state-by-state laws on gun locking devices and storage:


California requires that locks must accompany all licensed dealer and private sales, and furthermore, all locks must be approved by the state’s Department of Justice as well.

Long guns that are not classified as ‘assault rifles’ can be transported in a moving vehicle without being locked in a case, but they must be kept unloaded. ‘Assault rifles’ and handguns will need to be kept in a locked case during vehicle transportation.


Connecticut currently requires that locks must accompany all dealer and private handgun sales, but not for rifles and shotguns. The locks must also be approved by the state of Connecticut.


The state of Illinois requires that trigger locks must accompany all dealer sales of handguns, but not private sales.


Similar to Illinois, Maryland currently requires that trigger locks accompany all handgun sales from a dealer, but not private party.


Massachusetts is currently the only state in the country that requires all firearms kept at home to be locked and secured at all times. The state also requires that locks must accompany all dealer and private sales for handguns and ‘assault weapons,’ but not for shotguns and rifles not classified as ‘assault weapons.’


The state of Michigan requires that locks must accompany the sales of all firearms from licensed dealers, but not from private parties.


In the state of New Jersey, locks must accompany all handgun sales from both dealers and private parties.


In New York, locks must accompany all sales of all firearms from licensed dealers, but not from private sales.


In Ohio, licensed firearms dealers are required to offer firearm locking devices for all guns sold in the state.


Locks must accompany the sale of all handguns in Pennsylvania from licensed dealers, but not private parties.


Similar to Pennsylvania, locks must accompany the sales of all handguns from licensed dealers in Rhode Island, but not private sales.

To conclude, the safe storage of guns is simply something that no responsible gun owner can ignore, and if you live in a state with gun storage laws you will need to make sure that you abide by those laws.

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