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Safe Storage

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What is safe firearm storage?

Firearm safety is not only about the handling of a firearm, but that responsibility also extends to secure storage. Safe storage consists of keeping firearms locked and unloaded, and separating firearms and ammunition when not in use. It also involves making sure household members understand the safety guidelines concerning firearms.

Why it is important to store firearms safely?

It is important to store firearms safely when not in use. Putting a firearm out of sight or out of reach is not safe storage and not enough to prevent use by children or unauthorized adults. Storing firearms locked and unloaded, with ammunition locked separately, can reduce the risk of firearm-related injuries and deaths.

The goal of safe storage is to prevent unintentional firearm injuries (e.g., children, those with dementia) and to prevent those who may be at risk of hurting themselves (e.g., suicide) and others (e.g., homicide, assault, intimate partner violence) from having access to lethal means.

What are options for safe storage?

There are several different ways to safely secure firearms. Refer to your firearm’s owner’s manual for safe storage methods. Some options include:

  • Cable lock
  • Trigger Lock
  • Gun case
  • Lock box
  • Electronic lock box
  • Full size and biometric gun safes
  • Personalized lock
  • Vehicle storage

How to determine the best safe storage options?

There are several options for locking a firearm that still allow for quick access in a time of need. Many experts recommend using lock boxes, safes, or gun vaults with a push button, combination, or digital keypad lock. A combination of safety mechanisms increases the level of security.

Resources for determining the best safe storage option

Resources are available to help firearm owners consider the best options for safely storing firearms. A local firearm retailer also can provide guidance on safe storage options. Below are additional resources.

Benefits of a Gun Lock Box

Project ChildSafe provides an overview of the benefits of a gun lock box. The fact sheet provides details about lock boxes for home storage and vehicle storage.

Gun Storage for your Lifestyle

An overview of gun storage options provided by Project ChildSafe. The fact sheet outlines storage options in the home and vehicle. It describes the price range and advantages for each option.

When should owners consider out-of-home storage?

Owners may consider increasing firearm security when someone in the home is at risk for suicide or self-harm. Take extra precaution around people who have risk factors or are demonstrating warning signs, including:

  •  Changes in usual patterns of behavior.
  • A history of treatment for mental illness.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Self-isolation.
  • Violent or reckless behavior.
  • A recent major life event, such as divorce, job loss, or financial trouble.
  • Expression of suicidal thoughts, feelings, or behavior.
  • Expression of feelings of hopelessness, or of being a burden to others.

Laws and Rules

Illinois Attorney General - Safe Storage Public Awareness

The Safe Storage and Public Awareness Act tasked the Illinois Department of Public Health with developing and implementing a two-year statewide safe gun storage public awareness campaign.

Illinois Attorney General - School Code - Gun Safety Information

This act amends the school code to allow school boards to provide safety education, which includes safe gun storage in the home.