Storing a firearm safely is a serious matter and should not be taken or treated lightly. The responsibility of owning a firearm not only requires understanding your firearm and the basics of safely incorporating it into your life, but also securely storing it when not in use. Storage of firearms can be categorized into two (2) basic classifications. There are regulated & restricted access storage methods as well as easy access storage options. Let's explore both options:
When owning a firearm, you are committing to the responsibility of ensuring that nobody has access to your firearm without your direct permission. One of the most common and recommended safety measures is the purchase of a gun-vault, gun-box, or gun-safe. Each of these options are specially designed storage devices providing the leverage to securely lock any and all your firearms; preventing all outside influences from accessing it. This includes people or animals that reside with you, potential visitors, as well as uninvited or unwanted trespassers.
If you decide to use a restricted storage device that grants access through a lock & key, secure the key in a safe and secure place known only to you and/or those you absolutely trust. If the key is easily accessible, it nullifies the overall function of a lock. You should safeguard the key with the same attitude as you would your firearm(s). The key should either be hidden in a completely secure location of your choosing or a heavily controlled environment (an alarm system, camera, etc.). Please note that the key should never be stored or hidden in the same vicinity as the lock itself.
If your selected storage device is equipped with a combination key (mechanical or digital), the combination should be managed with the same attention as a physical key; completely safeguarded and only offered to a trustworthy person(s). One unwritten rule to consider, the combination should be straightforward enough to easily remember under extreme stress but, complicated enough to deny access to others. You may also want to consider writing down the combination and storing it for safekeeping. You never know, it may come in handy and you will be extremely grateful if that day ever presents itself. However, the written combination too, will need to be stored in a hidden or secure location, preventing it and potentially your weapon from ever falling into the wrong hands.
Finally, and often overlooked, firearms should always be stored unloaded. It's not uncommon to store ammunition with firearms, but should always be done in a safe and organized manner (beware of mixing ammo brands, types, loads and calibers). Keep in mind, for safety reasons, separate your ammunition & firearms as much as possible when storing them together. It is strongly urged that you refer to your "User's Manual" and store each firearm per the manufacturer's recommendations.
Incorporating an easy access firearm(s) storage assembly into your life demands the same personal responsibilities as using the restricted access firearm(s) storage housings; preventing all unwanted person from accessing it freely. The fact that you have decided to safely store your firearm(s) in a method that provides easy access, does not alleviate you from the responsibility of still ensuring others do not have access to it. Keep in mind, by selecting to store a firearm(s) with easy access, you will need to take extra preventive measures by planning and preparing, to insure your firearm(s) are stored safely and securely.
The only reason one would ever even consider storing a firearm(s) with easy access is for the sole purpose of "Self" of "Home" Defense. Taking this factor into account, you need to consider what the NRA's Firearm Safety Rule # 3:
Firearm Safety Rule # 3 states "ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use."
… In order to ensure preventive measures and completely eliminate any potential of a firearm related accident, the NRA urges everyone to keep any and all firearms unloaded at all times when not in use.
The key phrase to consider here in relation to storing firearms safely are the words …[not in use]. Not in use can also be interpreted as Ready to Use; which in turn can actually reflect several scenarios -- a firearm being stored in a drawer, under a mattress, concealed carry, or any other manner of defensive purposes.
What the rule does not cover, is how a ready to use firearm(s) should be stored safely & securely, especially when being done so with easy access. The first measure of action in planning how to safely store a firearm(s) with easy access is identifying a suitable storage location, a safe and secure zone preventing outside influences from accessing it freely yet, with easy and immediate access should a possible threatening situation present itself. For example, when considering storing a firearm(s) with easy access in a vehicle, securely storing a firearm(s) in the trunk might seem safe but, will not grant easy and immediate access to [it] should a threatening situation present itself while in the driver's seat. An identical approach should be considered when planning and preparing an easy access point at a residence. The calculated location should always be discreet, hidden, and potentially even remote, yet easily accessible should a "Self" or "Home" Defense situation arise. However, please consider if the determined location is excessively hidden, remarkably discreet, and beyond remote, the firearm(s) may be safely secured from outside influences access but can also create a challenge for easy access if a situation that lacks the luxury of time to think displays itself.
Once a comfortable easy access storage location is identified, you will need to determine how the firearm(s) will be stored safely in this location. Traditionally, there are two (2) methods that are used to prevent unauthorized access, and whenever possible, we urge you to consider using both methods. The first and most important, is complete concealment. The firearm(s) should be hidden from view and kept from easy access to others. Once again, the final location should always be discreet if not actually hidden, yet easily accessible should a "Self" or "Home" Defense situation arise. On the contrary, the final location should be analyzed before being accepted. For example, a potential easy access concealed storage location may be hidden from your direct view or vantage point, but may not apply nor conceal [it] from view for someone shorter and/or taller. Correspondingly, if you have children and/or animals, their curiosity often leads them to explore even the most mundane areas that should be accounted for when selecting an easy access concealed storage location.
Secondly, additional security or the utilization of some kind of mechanical locking device is highly recommended. This is an additional preventive measure assuring that even if the easy access storage is discovered, a loaded firearm(s) will not end up in the wrong hands. Applying a locking mechanism that will provide both easy access to you and denial of access to others is good practice. This may take some time to research and it is vital you adopt the absolute best option(s) for you. A key lock or mechanical combination lock requires concentration, dexterity and time to open. These are all crucial elements to keep in mind considering that these may not be available to you if a dangerous situation arises. There are a variety of state-of-the-art locks available that incorporate precise access at the push of a button and it is essential you take some time to research the best fit should you decide to store a firearm(s) in one of these.
Regardless of what method you adopt in safely storing your firearm(s), please consider that it is entirely your sole responsibility to ensure that only you and/ or person(s) you approve have access to [them] at all times. The slightest overlooked detail can result in a serious injury, damage to property, or even death.
ATTENTION: The next section will conclude this lesson plan however, before reading any further, please stop and take a moment to digest the topics previously covered. Choosing to make a firearm a part of your life is a serious decision and should not be treated lightly. It requires a commitment to common sense as well as a desire to constantly be looking for new educational opportunities and a lifelong ambition of learning, understanding the basics of safe firearm(s) practices, as well as all the preventive safety measures necessary to its safe ownership. Please make sure that you are cognizant, and have retained the material that has been presented to you throughout the lesson plan before reviewing this final section and choosing to make a firearm a part of your life.