Although most states do not require you to securely store your firearms in any particular manner or device, you might want to consider doing so.
There are several good reasons to keep any firearms that are not under your direct control locked up securely.
It is important to note that some states and cities have enacted laws requiring the “safe storage” of firearms, which can result in criminal and/or civil penalties and fines if the requirement is not met.
In this context, the term “safe storage” does not necessarily refer to storing firearms in a gun safe, but rather an alignment between the terms “safe” and “secure.”
Safe storage means that firearms must be stored in a locked container or locked cabinet, out of reach of children and other unauthorized individuals.
Furthermore, the storage location should be in an area of the house that cannot be easily accessed by children, such as a high shelf in a closet or a safe in a locked room.
Do I Need A Gun Safe If I Live Alone?
You may be tempted to leave your gun unsecured when you live alone, but there are several reasons why you should keep it in a gun safe.
Even if maintenance cannot contact you first, maintenance may be able to enter your apartment in an emergency.
Keeping your gun in a secure safe will also help prevent accidents that could involve your children or pets.
Having your gun in a safe will also discourage burglars from targeting your home. Finally, it is an important safety measure if you are ever threatened or attacked.
Can’t Argue Against Safes
A gun safe is often viewed as a sign of guns being present, which is an argument against its use.
There’s no doubt about it: Gun safes are meant to store guns. How important is it to have a safe for security purposes if others may find out you own a safe and guns?
There is also the argument that if you want to access a gun in the safe, it might take too long. In this scenario as well, there are risks and rewards.
Does the reward of more secure gun storage outweigh the risk of having to wait a few seconds to access a gun?
A gun safe can also be expensive. There are many price points and features to choose from when buying a gun safe.
You may be able to store one long gun in a properly constructed gun locker mounted to studs in the wall.
Wouldn’t it be appropriate to make a proportionate investment in protecting 20 long guns and five handguns if you own such a large investment?
Think about it the other way around: How much does someone stealing your guns cost you? How would you feel if he or she used your guns to commit a crime?
Once again, it’s a risk/reward situation.
You can keep your guns safe with gun safes. No matter how many guns you own (or how many more), the rewards are likely to be greater than the risks.
Gun safes are a good investment for any gun owner. They will provide a sense of security knowing that your firearms are securely stored and out of reach of children or criminals.
Furthermore, gun safes can help protect your firearms from accidental damage or theft.
The Laws Regarding Gun Safe
Laws prohibiting child access (CAP) and laws protecting children from accidental exposure (SA) differ as well.
A CAP law generally applies when a minor/child or other unauthorized person gains access to firearms; however, in some extremely restricted areas, CAP laws prohibit leaving firearms for children to access.
Gun owners are required to store unattended firearms according to safe storage laws in their jurisdictions and to follow those instructions.
It is possible for states and jurisdictions to impose safety requirements for all unattended firearms.
The requirement may only apply when certain people will be present, such as minors or felons prohibited from possessing firearms.
Washington State And Seattle’s Safe Firearm Storage Laws
Let’s look at Seattle’s “safe storage” ordinance as an example of how confusing and problematic they can be.
Gun owners in Seattle are required to lock their guns away when not in use or under their control by the “Responsible Storage Law”, which imposes fines for crimes committed with guns not properly stored.
As of February 13, 2019, the law is in effect. Washington state’s law prohibits cities from enacting more restrictive gun laws than the state does.
Edmonds, WA, passed a similar law but it was overturned for violating that law. It appears that Seattle’s ordinance is still in effect.
The Seattle Mayor’s office says, “IMPORTANT NOTE: Guns must be stored in a locked container, such as a LockBox, Safe, or Vault.”
The city of Seattle defines a “locked container” in terms of its ordinances. Here is how the safe storage of firearms is defined in this administrative rule:
Grammatically and legally, items (c) and (d) are problematic since it is unclear whether the device requires three variables if it also uses a key.
“Easily” and “common tools” are highly subjective terms.
Moreover, this law may blame you even if your “safe, gun safe, gun cabinet, or lock box” is destroyed by a burglar because requirement (d) is not followed.
Despite following the ordinance to the best of your ability, your choice of container was overcome by a thief, and it may have been your fault.
If your gun is not stored in a locked container, you can be fined up to $500 (or be forced to perform community service).
Obtaining an unsafely-stored gun, getting in contact with a prohibited individual, or being around an “at-risk person” may result in a fine up to $1,000 (or community service).
For obtaining an unsafely-stored gun being used to injure, kill or commit a crime, the fine can reach $10,000.”
According to Washington state law, all gun safes and lock boxes are tax-exempt, so Seattle tries to be kinder to people who cannot afford a suitable “locking container.”
US Cities With Stringent Safe Firearm Storage Ordinances
The state has enacted laws on firearms, which sometimes conflict with the laws enacted by cities and counties. The following cities require safe storage in addition to the standard requirements:
Minneapolis/St. Paul: A new safe storage ordinance is being proposed in the Twin Cities.
Boston: All firearms must be equipped with a trigger lock, and the city recommends installing a safe. The gun safe should be bolted securely to the floor. If the gun is in a vehicle, you should install a gun lockbox. “Bolt the trunk box to the frame of the car, or cable lock it to it at the very least.”
Davis, California: Davis (along with several other California cities such as Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Antioch, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek) has enacted local safe firearms storage requirements that are stricter than California law, which include descriptions of how legal firearms can be stored in cars.
Chicago and Cook County, IL: Illinois’ firearm storage laws are stricter than state laws: If you have children in your home, you must secure the firearm. Less than 18 years, if in Chicago (Ordinance 8-20-050); Less than 21 years, if in Cook County (Chapter 58, Article VIII, Sec. 58-205); Less than 14 years in other areas of Illinois (720 ILCS 5/24-9 Sec. 24-9).
New York City: Residents are prohibited from releasing any firearms outside their immediate possession or control unless they first securely lock them in a safe storage container or render them incapable of being fired by utilizing a gun locking device appropriate to that weapon before letting them out of their immediate possession or control.
San Francisco: Gun owners in San Francisco are allowed to keep their guns at home, but when not in use, they must lock them in safes or disable them with trigger locks.
5 US States Require All Firearms To Be “Safely Stored” To Prevent Access By Unauthorized Users
There are five states that require gun owners to store unattended guns in specific ways so that all unauthorized individuals or a subset of people, such as minors and those forbidden from possessing firearms, cannot access them: Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York.
Safe storage of a firearm can be achieved in any case with a quality gun safe, but safe storage is not strictly necessary.
Check your state laws for their definitions of secure firearm storage; other secure locking receptacles that meet the state’s definitions are acceptable.
State laws require gun owners to safely store their firearms as defined by the state, but penalize gun owners only if minors can access the firearm. If you need more information, please refer to your local and state laws.
Also, four states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon, impose strict civil liability for firearm storage violations or allowing firearms to be accessed by minors.
The use of a gun safe or handgun vault is recommended regardless of whether you live in an area where such storage is required.
Securely locking your firearms not only prevents unauthorized access (such as criminal and legal action resulting from negligent storage), but also helps prevent unauthorized access by children or thieves.
It helps you to feel secure in knowing that you’ll be protected from loss and damage if you lose your firearms or heirlooms.