Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to store their firearms unloaded and locked when unattended. These laws are intended to help prevent unauthorized users, including children, from accessing and using firearms, which can reduce tragedies due to suicide, unintentional discharges, and gun theft.


Safe gun storage refers to practices that limit accessibility to guns by unauthorized users, including minors and thieves. These practices can include locking guns in a secure place, such as a gun safe or cabinet or using safety devices such as trigger or cable locks. The most secure way to store firearms, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is to store them unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition.

More than half of all gun owners store at least one gun unsafely—without any locks or other safe storage measures.

  • In fact, nearly a quarter of all gun owners report storing all their guns in an unlocked location in the home.
  • While some data suggests that gun owners with children in the home are slightly more likely than other gun owners to store firearms safely, roughly 4.6 million minors live in homes with loaded, unlocked firearms.

Unsecured guns in the home pose a substantial risk to children who may find and use them against themselves or others.

  • Household guns are a major source of weapons used by youth in violence against themselves or others. Between 70% and 90% of guns used in youth suicides, unintentional shootings among children, and school shooting perpetrated by shooters under the age of 18 are acquired from the home or the homes of relatives or friends.
  • Accordingly, the risk of suicide and unintentional shootings among youth increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.

Unsecured weapons in homes and vehicles are also fueling an epidemic of gun thefts across the country. These guns may be diverted to the underground market, where they are used in crime.

  • Nationally representative survey data suggests that approximately 380,000 guns are stolen from individual gun owners each year.
  • From 2006 to 2016, the number of guns reported stolen from individuals increased by approximately 60%. Similarly, many cities have reported alarming spikes in the number of firearms stolen from cars.
  • An analysis of more than 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 found that the majority of these weapons were recovered in connection with crimes, including more than 1,500 violent acts such as murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

Safe storage behavior can help to mitigate the risks of unsecured guns, with studies showing that these practices can prevent both firearm injuries and gun thefts.

  • A public or private school’s athletic stadium or other facility or building in which school-sponsored events are conducted; or
  • A public park, playground, or civic center.

For purposes of this provision, “parent” is defined as a parent, stepparent, legal guardian, or person who has legal custody of a student pursuant to a court order and with whom the student resides.

Article written by Dennis H. Former Lt, Field Director UCMC, with over 40 years of law enforcement experience.

We will be posting what states require safe storage/have gun lock requirements in separate blog posts. Check out our most recent posts!

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