How To Properly Secure Firearms At Home

Are you stumped as to how your firearms can be secured around your home? There are a number of options available, ranging from very inexpensive to elaborate. Obviously, we’re trying to keep our firearms secure. But from whom and what? Children are likely a prime consideration, especially if you have a family with children. Or perhaps you occasionally (or regularly) get company with children. On the other hand, you might be concerned with your weapons being stolen, which is a valid worry these days. Finally, you might want to prevent your guns from being damaged in a fire. Let’s explore some options that are on the market.

Education & Training

Like many others in my part of the country, I grew up around firearms my entire life. In my household, firearms were never locked up. I can already hear the startled gasps out in the audience: “…firearms never locked up?!” That’s right. My parents never felt the need to keep them locked up away from me. Why?

That’s not to say that when I was a toddler, my dad never kept his firearms out of my reach. Quite the contrary; he kept them up high on a shelf where a roaming toddler could never reach them.

However, beyond my toddler years, my dad took a proactive approach in that he trained me on everything I needed to know about firearms. Specifically, how to safely handle them. By the age of five, I could safely and competently make sure the firearm that I was handling was unloaded and safe. I knew the basics of firearms handling, including treating every weapon as if it were loaded at all times and pointing it in a safe direction. If the firearm was loaded, I could safely unload it and make it safe.

I still believe that, regardless of how securely you keep your firearms locked up, you should ingrain safe handling to your children. Because one never knows whether the kids will one day get ahold of one of your guns. Kids are crafty and might see where you keep the keys (or combination) to the safe or somehow get to those guns on the top shelf in your closet. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of children; if they want something, they’ll figure out a way to get after it.

Should they succeed in their endeavors, the knowledge that you provide for them could be the thing that keeps them safe. However, if they’re totally ignorant and they do happen to get to your guns, it could be disastrous. Even if it’s not your guns they go after, it could be someone else’s. Let’s say they’re at a neighbor’s house or having a sleep over at someone else’s house, there might be firearms that the kids get into at those places. At that point, your child’s gun-handling skills could save his or her life.


Trigger locks are an option. They are a device that clamps down around the trigger, preventing it from being pulled. They’re extremely cheap; in fact, many guns come with them from the factory these days, so they’re often free.

Handguns secured by cable locks.
Cable locks are simple to use and cheap, as well as being readily available. These days, most handguns are supplied with one from the factory. [Photo: istockphotos]
Cable locks are also very cheap and often come free with new gun purchases. The majority of gun shops have extras sitting around and give them out free to customers who ask for them. They prevent the action of pistols and revolvers from closing and prevent a magazine from being inserted into a pistol’s mag well. They can also do the same for many rifles. These inexpensive measures won’t keep the guns from being stolen, but they will prevent them from being fired.

A Case for Security

Many handguns these days come from the factory with a plastic, lockable case, which is another free option. Even if a free one didn’t come with your handgun, they’re available inexpensively and can be secured by a simple padlock. This is enough to keep the firearm out of the hands it shouldn’t be in.

Hornady lock box.
Hornady’s Large Lock Box is very portable, inexpensive, and simple to use. [Photo: Jim Davis]
There are also locking mini-vaults or mini-safes. Some have simple key locks, while others are more elaborate, with electronic locks. Hornady is a good example, as they offer a couple of such options. Not only do they lock, but they also have a heavy cable so they can be secured to your house or heavy furniture, which helps to prevent the mini-vaults from being stolen.

These small vaults are nice because they’re portable and can be placed conveniently around the home or even taken to the range or in a vehicle. While they typically cost more than a simple plastic case, they’re normally not very expensive.

They are also available for long guns and typically don’t cost much at all. For long guns, the case might require a couple of padlocks. These cases are great for transporting the long guns to the range and storing them at home.

Bulldog Tactical soft gun case.
Aside from hard gun cases, some soft gun cases (in this case, from Bull Dog Tactical) can be locked. Photo: Jim Davis.

Aside from that, there are also soft long gun cases with zippers that can be locked by securing the zipper.

Gun Cabinets

Locking gun cabinets are another option. While most are not as sturdy as a bona fide gun safe, they will still suffice for keeping guns out of the hands of children. It’s important to secure them to the structure because they are often light enough to carry by two people, so burglars could cart one out of your house.

Gun Safes

This is where it gets really serious. Safes can, and often are, very heavy. Some can weigh hundreds of pounds or more and are difficult to move. That can be a consideration for some owners, as well as a downside. The good part about them being difficult to move is that burglars will also have a tough time stealing the safe.

Large gun safes.
Some safes are fire-resistant, and most are very heavy. But they offer the most secure option, in many cases, for your firearms. [Photo: Hunting Mark]
Quality safes also cost more. Many use high-quality materials, and some are even fire-resistant. There are many brands on the market, so some research is in order, as quality varies greatly between manufacturers. Fire resistance also varies widely among manufacturers. Generally speaking, a safe is going to be the safest (no pun intended) option for securing firearms.

Safes normally have a far more secure locking mechanism than gun cabinets and are heavier gauge steel, so they’re harder to break into (whether it’s burglars or children).

Gun Rooms

Some folks are blessed enough to have an entire room that they can devote to firearms. Sometimes, these rooms are elaborate, ornate, and pretty to look at, while others are rather simple and practical.

One nice thing about a room is that it can’t be picked up and carried away by thieves since it’s a part of your home. However, a consideration is that the room is only as strong as the door and the lock that secures the room. Still, that gives the owner options, as the door and locks can be beefed up if deemed to be insufficient.

A locking gun closet.
A simple closet can be turned into a very secure gun storage space. It’s not fancy or pretty, but it works. [Photo: Jim Davis]
Personally, I have a closet that I’ve made into a sort of “gun room.” It’s not huge or fancy at all, but it serves my purposes. I mainly designed it to keep my firearms organized and secure in the event that we get company with children. Security against thieves is naturally a consideration, but it’s not my top priority.

Hidden Places

The most elaborate measures come in the form of hidden compartments or even rooms. I’ve seen rooms hidden behind bookcases and such that make it nearly impossible to detect where a hidden arms room is. And let’s face it, if you can’t find the room, you can’t steal or handle the guns.

It doesn’t have to be that elaborate, though. A friend of mine hollows the insides of books out in the shape of a handgun and hides them in there. Without going through his entire book collection, you’d never have a prayer of finding his handguns.

Hidden compartment behind a fake vent.
Is it a vent or a hidden gun compartment? Sometimes, hiding in plain sight can foil thieves. [Photo by Boing Boing]
Another alternative (among many) is a vent with a hidden compartment behind it. Although these last couple aren’t secured by locks, so I’d not necessarily trust them to keep guns out of the hands of exploring children. But for hiding against thieves, they’d be pretty effective.

Parting Shots

In this article, we’ve explored a host of possible solutions for securing firearms around the home. They range from inexpensive to very expensive and elaborate. The key is that everyone can find a reasonable option (actually, several) within the information presented here.

Personally, I enjoy having many options to choose from, no matter what subject we’re talking about. I actually have many of the methods of securing firearms mentioned here in my own house. Mostly, though, my gun closet is the easiest and most often used method of gun security in my house.

How about you? We’d love to hear how our readers secure their firearms, so feel free to leave a comment.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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