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Guns in the Home

From time to time, we will publish parts of our course manuals as a public service. The following article is re-printed with permission of SafeShot, Ltd., from our ShootSafe! manual, 1995-1997.

Storage of Firearms

We all believe in personal liberties - rights guaranteed by the constitution. But liberties and rights have responsibilities. Thus, we cannot go into a crowd and yell "fire!" and expect no criminal action to be taken against us. We bear the consequences of our actions and words, and Freedom of Speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution is not an unlimited freedom. Nor is the Freedom to Keep and Bear Arms an unlimited freedom.

There are responsibilities as gun owners that must be kept if we exercise our freedom of choice to keep a firearm to protect ourselves and loved ones. The most obvious obligation is to keep guns from unauthorized hands - either in the immediate family or from an intruder. This means exercising care in the proper storage of guns to secure them.

Keep in mind Storage is needed for guns when you are not home to properly supervise or secure them. Here's a short, incomplete list of improper ways guns are stored - the way not to do it.

  • Do not store a handgun under a mattress;
  • Do not store a handgun in a nightstand;
  • Do not store a handgun in a dresser or chest;
  • Do not store a handgun in an area accessible to unauthorized persons.


  • Think about it. You are at work, shopping or on vacation. Firearms are inanimate objects. Guns cannot be programmed to load themselves or to patrol your home or business. So why leave a revolver where it can be taken by a burglar or child? Thieves work quickly, turning mattresses and dumping drawers, looking for anything of value. Minors are curious, and love to explore. A nightstand or chest of drawers is an excellent opportunity - for minors and criminals!

    When you are at home, you still need to exercise care in the keeping and handling of firearms. As stated in another chapter, a gun is your last line of defense not your first line of offense. Hopefully, you developed a plan for the security of your home - window and door locks, peep holes, lighting, etc. A plan is also needed for proper storage of firearms.

    A home with children has obvious concerns for proper storage. If you do not have a gunsafe, always keep ammunition stored in a separate area, well away from the room and location you stored your gun. Remember the third basic rule of safe gun handling: Always keep the gun unloaded until it is ready to be used.

    Some parents are unwilling to tell their children about firearms being kept in the home. This may in part be because of their perception of unsocial behavior associated with being a gun owner. Others have children with behavior disorders. In short, some parents have legitimate concerns in revealing gun ownership to their children. If you are more worried about neighborhood approval than self-defense, it might be better to sell the gun and not have it in the home at all.

    Children find unknown and forbidden subjects fascinating and luring. If your children are not behavior problems, you should tell your children that you have exercised your right as an adult to own a gun for protection or sport. Explain that guns are extremely dangerous and do not react like they are shown on TV. Some of the smaller handguns look like toys - explain that they are not!

    Tell them guns are never to be handled without you being present. In your presence, let them handle your guns. You will satisfy their curiosity, and encourage their trust.

    If you permit toy guns, use their play to encourage safe gun handling. Teach your child to only point and shoot at imaginary bad people or fantasized dangerous animals. Instruct them to always keep their finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

    There is no hard and fast rule as regards the proper age or time to explain gun ownership to children. As stated in a prior chapter, the National Rifle Association is the unsurpassed champion of gun safety, and probably has the finest child firearms safety program in the world: "Learn Gun Safety with Eddie the Eagle". This outstanding program consists of videos, coloring books and sticker pamphlets. The course is varied to suit pre-schoolers, and has a separate level for elementary students. This vital program is issued free to any school district or police department or scout organization. You should enquire as to whether your school district has taught this essential course.

    You can take the essence of the "Eddie the Eagle" program, however, and explain firearm safety to a child what they must do if they find any firearm, regardless whether in or out of your home:
    1. STOP;
    2. DO NOT TOUCH;
    3. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY;
    4. TELL AN ADULT.

    Unfortunately, even though you are a responsible gun owner, your child may go into a home where safe gun storage is not practiced. A playmate, exploring the home, finds a gun carelessly stored and shows it to your child, proud of his find. Train your child not to say anything, not to look at the child not to do anything but: STOP! DO NOT TOUCH - LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY - TELL AN ADULT.

    Disassembly can be an effective method of storage. If you cannot afford more rigorous storage systems, a revolver without a cylinder is absolutely worthless to a criminal and totally safe for a minor. Consider storing a semi-automatic pistol with the slide in one room, the frame in an other place and the barrel, return guide and recoil spring in still an other room. Chances are a criminal won't bother to strip the entire home to find the remaining parts. Burglary is a crime of speed - in and out before the occupant returns.

    Gun safes provide the most secure storage systems. Gun cabinets, with glass fronts, are convenient and secure for family members (to a point), but an invitation to criminals because of the prominent display. Metal pistol safes are small, can be fitted into a wall or fastened to a floor, and are excellent devices for securing handguns. There are several on the market, and with keyless lock systems and quick entry methods provide an outstanding system of securing revolvers or pistols with strength and secrecy.

    The key to safe storage is to utilize your discretion. Think before you place a gun for storage: will this be discovered by a criminal? Will my child or another likely find the gun if I store it here? When you are not home, you must store your gun properly.

    As soon as you are home, you can ready your gun for your home security plan. Again, if you load your gun, you must safeguard it from unauthorized hands, even though you are home. And don't forget: even if you are only going out for "ten minutes" you must unload and securely store your gun if no other authorized person will be home. Proper storage is an essential item in your home defense plan.

    And use trigger locks if children are living at home! Even if you have a gun safe, unload the gun and put a trigger lock over the trigger and trigger guard. It is another layer of protection.

    Have you ever seen one of those "clever" bumper stickers and wondered if the mindless moron who put the thing on the bumper is the object behind the steering wheel? Stickers such as "insured by Smith & Wesson", or "I don't dial 911, I reach for Samuel Colt" reveal your position on gun ownership. These decals have no place on your car or on your front door! Leave the "WARNING: Premises insured by Smith & Wesson" window decal to others. Do not broadcast your gun ownership.

    Looking for professional Concealed Carry Classes in Illinois? A leader in firearms safety and marksmanship instruction, Safeshot Ltd. is here for you. Contact us today for more information! Please browse the rest of our site at safeshotltd.com for more information on our Concealed Carry Classes in Illinois. We look forward to hearing from you!

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