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How to Safely Store a Gun for Home Defense | Best Practices

As a kid, I learned the hard way about the importance of gun safety. A close family member was shot in my home due to a dumb safety mistake. He survived, but we were fortunate not to lose him. Since then, our family has been ultra-careful in how we keep firearms.

To store a home defense gun safely, you have to consider two factors: accessibility and safety. Store the firearm in a secure place where you can easily access it in emergency situations without compromising the safety of the people living in the house.

You have to be very cautious while storing something that is very dangerous and requires great attention. This article will explain in detail the things to keep in mind while storing a gun, where to keep it safely, and where not to store one.

Silouetted Man Standing in Front of a Metal House with a Padlock

Things To Consider Regarding The Safe Storage of Your Gun

Before you find a place to store a gun, it helps make a solid plan of retreat in case of emergencies. Communicating with other gun-strained family members about the storage location is equally important since you cannot predict who will need the gun and when. 

A dry run of the escape plan is an excellent idea because it helps you determine if the plan is practical and the gun is accessible easily enough. There’s no point in keeping a weapon for self-defense if it cannot provide said self-defense when required.

Develop various defense strategies based on your home architecture and the number of family members. If there are kids at your home, be extra careful while choosing a storage location.

Safety Measures

Here are a few safety measures that all gun owners should keep in mind while handling a gun.

  • Hide the keys well- Whether you are storing the gun in a safe (like the one I recommend) or a cupboard, hide the keys that are used to access it. Please keep them in a safe place where children and pets cannot access them.
  • Stay organized- Store guns horizontally or with the muzzle pointing downward for added security. Also, ensure that the storage area is dry, clean, and cool.
  • Need to know basis- Only the adults in the house should know the gun storage location. The best practice is not even to let the children know that there is a gun in the house.
  • Know the regulations- Study the gun storage laws in the area of your residence. Some states prefer storing the guns locked and separate from ammunition. Others allow its inhabitants to keep guns in the open as long as it is out of reach and out of sight.
  • Never leave a firearm unattended- Even if it is for a second, don’t have a gun sitting around. It is a dangerous weapon, and you have to be extremely cautious while handling it.
  • Education is key- Children should be taught not to touch guns. Educate them about its use and the risks of mishandling a firearm. Unless they are properly trained, licensed, and responsible, do not tell them where you store any weapon.
  • Help your community- As you probably know, gun owners are a close-knit and generally responsible group of individuals. Together, we can create more safety in our community. If you notice your family members or friends storing a gun in the open, urge them to lock it in a gun safe or any other storage area. 

Keep Children Safe

Never underestimate kids.

The truth is, they are way smarter than you think. They are curious, they ask good questions, and they smash stereotypes. Driven by curiosity, children can get their hands on anything they want.

It is crucial to use child-proof guns if you have kids at home. You can also use gun safes and trigger locks. Educate your children about gun safety and the serious problems that can arise due to its mishandling. Tell them they should never touch a gun without your permission. 

Whatever you tell them about guns and their uses, do not disclose where you store the gun in the house. This is extremely dangerous as kids love to take risks as long as their curiosity is fed. I speak from experience on this front. My brother almost lost his life as a teenager due to a mishandled firearm.

Legal Storage of Guns at Home

Safe gun storage laws vary from state to state. For instance, Massachusetts is the only state that requires its residents to lock all firearms while storing it. Research the regulations concerning gun storage in your state before finding a place to store the gun. You can even contact the local police station to study in detail about storing home defense weapons.

Where to Safely Store a Gun for Home Defense

An Open Gun Safe

There is no ideal place for storing home defense guns because there are several factors to consider while deciding how to keep a gun at home. These include what type of gun it is if there are children at home, the number of family members, and even the house architecture.

The real challenge is finding a gun safe or a storage place that can balance both accessibility and security. Here are a few storage methods commonly used:

In the Open

Some gun owners prefer to store their home defense weapon out in the open, mainly for easy accessibility. The most common place is the bedside table. However, keeping guns out in the open comes with a lot of risks.

Burglars are likely to spot the gun and take it once they break into the house. The last thing you want is to be unarmed in a dangerous situation. Another disadvantage of leaving guns in the open is that children can easily access them. You should never leave a firearm unattended if there are kids or pets in the house.

If you are used to leaving the gun out in the open, you may forget to secure it when you invite family and friends over for dinner. If they bring children to your house, this can lead to unpredictable and dangerous events. Even negligent adults could pick up your weapon and misuse it. 

Therefore, it is always better to lock the gun in a safe unless you live alone and need security the entire time you are in the house. You will usually have at least a few seconds when a weapon is necessary. As long as you can retrieve it quickly, then there is no need to keep it out.

Carrying the Gun

Carrying a firearm is probably the easiest way to ensure that it is never left unattended. Moreover, it provides the easiest and quickest access in case of emergencies. You also have full control over the weapon and need not worry about others accessing it.

However, carrying a gun 24/7 is not easy. Having a weapon attached to your belt or in your pocket is just not practical. It will soon turn into a burden and eventually find a new home, probably in a safe.

However, if you feel you need quick and easy access frequently, there is nothing wrong with just keeping it on your person most of the time. Just remember to keep it in a safe plan when keeping it on you is not possible, like while sleeping or taking a shower.

Master Bedroom

This is one of the worst places to store valuables and weapons because burglars often rush to the master bedroom if their intention is to steal valuables. However, if you work from your bedroom or want to access the weapon easily at night, a master bedroom is a good option for storing your home defense gun. 

Do not leave the gun out in the open. It is always best to keep the gun in a safe under the bed. Storing it in your bedside nightstand is also an acceptable option, as long as it has a solid lock.

Kitchen Pantry

Burglars are usually not particularly interested in the kitchen, which is why the pantry is a great place to keep a gun safe. Also, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen on a daily basis, you can easily access the weapon in unpredictable situations.

It is always best to keep a weapon next to an exit door. This allows you to grab it and protect yourself and your family while escaping through the exit door.

Important Tip: Always remember that it is preferred that you avoid confrontation. Burglars often carry weapons, and it is always better not to take chances with you or your family’s lives. Therefore, get out of the house immediately and call 911 once you are in a safe place. Only use the firearm in self-defense.

A Closet Near an Exit Door

A closet is a decent location to store guns as burglars usually ignore them. They typically have a plan and look for easily accessible big-ticket items. They don’t want to take the time to root around.

Even if burglars are unlikely to open the closet, do not leave the gun lying around inside it. Keep the gun in a safe or build a hidden drawer in the closet.

As mentioned before, always avoid confrontation, as thieves might be equipped with more than one weapon. The first thing you need to do if you spot burglars in the house is get out of the house immediately. Once again, call 911 once you ensure that you are in a safe place.

Guest Bedroom

Guest bedrooms are always a good place to store valuables and weapons. However, do not entirely rule out the chance of burglars exploring there. 

The extra rooms are typically sparse of valuables and other things, so you will have plenty of space to store the weapon and not have to worry too much. However, note that the gun safe may come across as obvious since guest bedrooms are typically devoid of stuff. Therefore, build a hidden drawer or find some other creative way to make it less conspicuous. 

Also, remember to take it to another safe place when you have guests staying over. You would not want to freak them out with a weapon in the room.

A Holster Attached to the Couch or Bed

Purchasing a gun storage holster is an excellent investment to store a home defense gun safely. You can buy holsters that can be attached to the bed or the couch. You can position the weapon to get hold of it quickly in dangerous situations.

Most holsters cover the trigger, providing them extra protection. Just make sure you consider the size and shape of your particular firearm before buying one. While smaller guns can be easily attached to beds and couches, it can be slightly difficult to store larger ones. Also, clean and dry the holster regularly to prevent moisture intrusion.

Concealment Furniture

It is no surprise that concealment furniture, like this cabinet found on Amazon, is growing in popularity because it is an excellent option to store weapons. The most common concealment furniture looks like regular bookcases, headboards, and coffee tables. Manufacturers are coming up with more creative and functional ideas to store guns and other weapons. Most concealment furniture does its job exceptionally well that others will not even know there is a gun inside it. 

Three Rules to Follow While Storing a Home Defense Gun

Wherever you decide to store the gun, keep in mind the following tips to be on the safer side. 

1. Store the Gun in a Safe

Storing home defense guns in good quality security boxes is important to keep yourself and your family members safe. However, do not choose the safes that require too much manipulation to open it. 

The weapon should be easily accessible in emergencies. Locks with fingerprint sensors, like this one, are the best when it comes to easy accessibility. It works well whether in a house or in a car. The Secureness of the safe is much more important than weight.

Whatever type you choose, it is best to buy safes specially designed to store guns and weapons. The normal lockboxes that are used long-term may not be very safe to keep weapons.

Another important thing is where you store the safe. The place should be easily accessible and out of sight at the same time. You can keep the safe in a hidden corner or any place that effectively hides the safe. 

If your house has multiple stories, it is better to keep a safe on each level. If the safe is in your bedroom, which is on the top floor, and you are in the kitchen on the ground floor, taking the gun in case of an emergency would be too difficult. 

While storing weapons, make sure there is no possibility of harm to you and your family. Keeping the gun out in the open for easy accessibility is undoubtedly dangerous. Therefore, think wisely and choose a safe place to store the safe.

Finally, communicate with the adults in the family about the safe’s location and the ways to access it. Keep in mind that the children should not find out the location of the safe or the gun. 

2. Keep the Gun Out of Sight

Keeping the gun out of sight is especially crucial if the gun is not stored in a safe. Safe manufacturers have designed a variety of gun storage options that include hidden compartments. These compartments look like regular bookshelves, headboards, coffee tables, or other common items seen in every household. 

Another excellent idea is using false walls. These hidden areas ensure that a firearm stays out of sight while still being easily accessible. For instance, some gun owners build a false wall behind the bed headboards. They mostly spend time in the bedroom, especially at night, so they can easily access the weapon in case of an emergency in the middle of the night. 

3. Store the Gun Out of Reach

While guns should not be kept too far away that even adults cannot get to them, it is vital to store the guns out of the reach of children. If you do not have a safe or cannot afford one, keep the gun on top of a high cupboard or a shelf. This is obviously less secure than a safe, but you can consider this if there is no other option.

Important: Make sure it is legally acceptable to store guns unlocked in the state you are residing in. if there are kids in the house, take special care to store all firearms out of their reach. Never underestimate the capabilities of children; they can climb anywhere they want. 

Places Where You Should Not Store Guns

Although choosing a safe place to store guns depends on your lifestyle and situation, there are a few places where you should never keep guns. 

Gun Cases That Absorb Moisture

Refrain from storing guns in cases that can absorb moisture. If your firearm is exposed to the elements, it can result in the formation of rust, and corrosion is the last thing any gun owner wants to see on their weapon. 

Typical culprits include leather cases, fabric, cardboard boxes, and even plastic boxes. All of these are known to be susceptible to the accumulation of moisture over time. If you want to use a holster made of leather to store your gun, make sure you clean and dry it regularly to prevent corrosion. 

You guessed it. Using gun safes is undoubtedly the best option for storing guns. 

Hard-to-Reach Places (For Adults)

Avoid storing guns in places that are too difficult to access. You will not get much time to grab your gun and run out of the house in case of emergencies. For instance, places like the basement and the garage are not ideal for gun storage. Therefore, store the home defense gun in places that are quickly accessible but still out of sight.

There is a delicate balance here, as you already know.

Nightstands (If There Are Kids in the House)

Nightstands are easy to access in case of emergencies. However, these are not ideal places for gun storage if there are children on the premises. Moreover, put it in the stand, not on it. It can be very dangerous if you accidentally grab the gun instead of the alarm clock. 

Preparing to Store Your Gun

Once you decide on a place to store your home defense gun, it is time to prepare the weapon for storage. Keeping it away from moisture is crucial.

Of course, even if you plan to store your guns in a moisture-free safe, the sweat on your hands can transfer to the guns. This can result in the formation of rust. Therefore, before you store the weapon, use good cleaning practices, and wipe it down with a good quality gun lubricant, like the Clenzoil Gun Oil and the Mil-Comm Gun Grease Lubricant

Make sure every part of the gun has at least a bit of the lubricant coating. Even stainless steel guns will rust quickly, so cleaning the firearms prior to storage is essential to prevent damage. 

Once you wipe down the gun, use a clean rag or gloves to place it in the safe. This is to prevent your sweaty fingers from touching the guns after cleaning.

Maintenance Guidelines

Maintaining your gun is a necessary part of gun ownership. It is imperative that you inspect your weapon from time to time, even if you do not use it often. Here are a few things you can do to keep your guns in good shape:

Read the Manual

We all tend to skip the manual instructions before using something. But with a dangerous item like a gun, you have to be aware of the dos and don’ts before using it. 

The gun manual will include instructions on how to arm and disarm the gun properly and maintain it. Additionally, all firearms are not disassembled the same way. Therefore, read the manual thoroughly before you start using the gun.

Unload the Gun

When the gun is not in use, it is better to unload the gun. However, if it is a home defense gun and stored safely, keep it loaded, as you will not get enough time to load it in emergency situations. Also, try shooting at a target every once a month to ensure that the weapon is in proper working order.

Use Appropriate Lubricant

Always clean and lubricate guns with products that are specifically designed for firearms. A gun must be able to withstand extreme heat and friction. Also, the lubricants used on guns should be able to take away all the moisture to prevent rust formation. Therefore, it is better to stay away from DIY oils and lubricants when it comes to cleaning.

Inspect Often

Even if you do not use your gun often, it is important to regularly check for debris and rust. Guns that sit in holsters and gun safes can develop moisture over time. This can lead to rust formation. Therefore, inspect your weapons regularly to keep them in proper working order.

Remove Debris

If you find debris in your gun, use cleaning patches or a cleaning rod to remove debris and dirt. You can also try pushing the patch through the bore until it can be seen on the other side. This will ensure that the inside of the barrel is thoroughly cleaned.

This video talks about how to clean a gun in great detail.

Add Grease

Apply anti-corrosion oil and gun lubricant to keep the gun in proper working order. Make sure you use products that are specifically made to use on firearms. 

Wipe It Down

Once you finish cleaning, use a clean cloth to wipe down the external parts of your gun. Look out for signs of rust, loose screws, or loose stocks.

In the event of an emergency

Most people reading this will be well-trained in using a firearm. Even so, just in case you are thinking about purchasing a gun and are just doing research, I thought I would mention this.

Keep these four things in mind when you have a gun in a dangerous situation:

  1. The gun should always be loaded. In an emergency, you may not get time to load it. 
  2. Never point the muzzle at anything you do not want to destroy. You cannot guarantee that you will not pull the trigger. This may happen out of panic or fear. 
  3. Do not place your finger on the trigger until you spot the target. 
  4. Once your target is in sight, do not forget to look beyond it. 

Bottom Line

Buying a home defense gun comes with great responsibility. The most crucial part is storing the gun safely in a place that is easily accessible. Even if there are no children at home, you have to ensure that the gun stays in a secure place when not in use.

Storing guns safely involves finding an appropriate place that is both accessible and safe. The best place to store guns is undoubtedly a weapon safe. But it is equally important to keep the gun out of sight and mind of children and visitors. 

False walls, the kitchen pantry, and a holster attached to the bed are other places where you can store your gun. Before you choose a location, confirm the laws regarding gun storage in your area with the local police station.

Do not store guns in places that are hard to access. Also, refrain from keeping firearms in leather covers and cardboard boxes as these can retain moisture and lead to the formation of rust on the guns. It is also important to take proper care of the guns to keep them in working order.

I hope this article has been helpful. If I missed something or got something wrong, please let me know in the comments, and I will address it.

Thanks for reading! 


Is It Legal to Store a Gun for Home Defense?

Laws regarding the storage of home defense guns vary from state. For instance, in some states, the gun must be locked when not in use, while others allow you to leave the firearm unlocked as long as it is out of sight and safe. Before you choose a place to store your gun, research your local laws. You can also contact the local police station for details.

Can I Answer My Door With a Gun in My Hand?

You should not answer the door with a gun in hand. This is because you never know the intention of the visitor. However, if a stranger continuously knocks on your door and threatens you to open the door, you can keep a gun in your hand to be on the safer side. 

Where Do Thieves Go When They Break Into a Home?

Studies show that thieves often go to the master bedroom, living, office, and dining room. They are likely to search for a safe with valuables in it, and these are the most common locations people keep them.

For more, check out Cleaning Bullets | How To Do It Correctly.

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