Several months ago we received the exciting news that we are expecting a little girl this fall. As any new parent knows, there are many preparations in a house for the new arrival. One of our top concerns is to “gun proof” our home. Firearms need to be securely stored out of a child’s reach. We have decided one of our best investments will be a good, solid gun safe. We want that added piece of mind that our guns will not be easily accessed by curious toddlers or children. So what is the best gun safe? How to store guns? What’s the best affordable gun safe? These are all questions we needed answered. As we began the research process we found a variety of safety and storage devices currently available, along with hundreds of gun safe reviews and gun locks. Finally, we decided a safe would offer protection not only from children, but extra security in the event of fire or theft. We also knew that we wanted to buy a safe from an established company with a good warranty program. In addition, a safe offers protection from the environment. Storing firearms in a controlled environment such as a safe will protect them from dampness which can cause rust or heat which can damage stocks and grips to the point of cracking and splitting. We discovered you must do research and look at the pros and cons of each manufacturer and model. There is a safe for all budgets and needs. However, my goal is always to find the best deal in the industry. I searched to find the safe that offers the most value for the dollar.
First, think about what should go in the safe. First, think about what should go in the safe? All of your non-defense firearms will need to find a place in the safe. Make sure you choose a size that is large enough to store all of your items. Think of other valuables such as hunting knives or personal effects that you may want to store as well. In today’s world there are safes of various sizes and prices. This is a long-term investment item and you do not want to select a model that will be too small in a year. Choosing the correct size safe for your needs and future needs is where most people make mistakes. My advice is buy the biggest safe you can afford. I have never heard anyone say “I just have too much room in my safe. I wish I would have bought one just a little smaller.” Also, while we are on the subject of size remember to look up. The ground square footage in my house is precious real estate so once I set aside a 4′ x 4′ location I wanted to go as tall as I could to maximize space. I only looked at safes that were 6′ or taller.
Next, consider the locking mechanism. We wanted a combination lock option. There are also models that feature a programmable combination as well as a key lock. If you do choose an option with a key lock, keep the keys stored in a separate location that your child will not discover. Another option are bio-metric locks. Consider needs along with speed and ease of access.
Do not forget to consider the location of the safe or lock boxes in your home. Find a location that will not appeal to your children. The family room will not be the best choice. Remember the location can add another element of safety. You may even want to consider adding a dead bolt lock on the door of the closet or room with the safe. While the lock will not offer much protection from a burglar, it will offer a layer of protection from your children.
Besides a safe what other storage methods are available? There are smaller lock boxes and gun safes that are great options for self-defense firearms or if a house only has one or two guns. Lock boxes are generally constructed of sturdy, high-grade metal and can be opened by either a key or combination lock. Some newer models have bio-metric locks that offer quicker access in an emergency situation. If you travel, look for a lock box that will fit under the seat of your car. There are also models that allow you to bolt the box to a wall or floor. Check out all the specifications before you decided. Both smaller lock boxes and gun safes are designed to prevent unintended handling and removal of a firearm.
Do not forget the gun locks. There are different types of bore locks, cable locks and trigger locks. Find a type you like and install them. A trigger lock is designed to keep the firearm from being loaded or fired, but do not prevent the firearm from being handled or stolen. Trigger locks are typically two piece devices that fit around the trigger and trigger guard to prevent access to the trigger. They are locked by a key or combination locking mechanism. Cable locks work by looping a strong steel cable through the action of the firearm to block the firearm’s operation and prevent accidental firing. Again, gun locks do not prevent access to the gun. Always use a gun lock with a safe or lock box.
Practice makes perfect. In case of an emergency, you will need to get to your firearm in a hurry. Have a plan and practice the scenario. Just as you would practice dry fire for a competition, have home safety drills. No matter what option you choose for storage, remember to store your firearms unloaded and in the uncocked position. For maximum safety you should use both a firearm safety device as well as a safe or locking storage container.
Ammunition should always be stored separately in a locked container out of children’s reach. Make sure you keep ammo away from heat and moisture. An extra measure of safety could be to store the ammunition on a different level of your home. The objective is to create a situation in which conscious effort is required to bring firearms and ammunition together. One final note is not to forget your cleaning supplies. Many gun cleaning supplies can be poisonous. Lock these items in a cabinet that is not accessible to young children. Often times kitchen and laundry chemicals are stored in safe areas, but we forget other types of cleaning tools that may be around the house.
Always practice gun safety in the home as it is almost impossible to child proof everything. Keeping your firearms safe from children is one of the most important responsibilities as a gun owner. There is no such thing as being too careful with children and guns. After safely securing your firearms, you will need to complete the missing piece of the puzzle – firearm education. Without proper education your preventive measures will be nearly useless. Education as your child grows will become essential. A great resource is the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. Remember, always be a good example and follow with good instruction and rules.
Gun safes are the most reliable and secure way to store your guns. Next week we will highlight our choice of safe from Liberty Safes. Look for our series of blog posts as install, organize and secure our firearms. We found a safe that matched our wants and needs and is proudly MADE IN THE USA.
For more information about the NRA Eagle Eddie education program, check out this website http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/.
To preview our safe, check out Liberty Safes.
For education and training programs about Gun Safety, check out the NRA website for free information http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp.
See you on the range!