Updated: Nov 16
How to Store a Firearm
Yes, everyone has the right to bear arms, but it is also important to bear them responsibly. This is especially important when it comes to storing your guns. Ideally, you should store them in a way that they aren’t damaged by the environment, are away from the reach of children, and are easy to reach in a self-defense situation. Did you know? Approximately 430 children die every year in unintentional shooting incidents, and a significant number of these shootings can be prevented if the firearms had been stored safely. The three main aspects of firearm storage are Security, Preservation, and Accessibility.
How to secure your firearms?
Without a doubt, security is the most important aspect when it comes to firearm storage. You want to make sure that your guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, like thieves or even your own children, who could hurt themselves.
There have been many incidents in which children have stolen their parent’s guns, and gotten into accidents, in some cases, children have even stolen their parent’s firearms deliberately, and hurt others along with themselves. Therefore, if you want your children to be responsible gun owners when they grow up, you need to lead by example and be a responsible gun owner now and keep your firearms away from the reach of your children.
Many states and municipalities in the US, including Delaware (Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 603), have safe storage laws. One of the best ways to keep your guns safe is to invest in a gun lockbox, security locker, or gun safe. Now, there are many different kinds of safes available in the market, in different price ranges, and the one you need depends a lot upon the type of firearms you own, their size, how many you own, and how much ammo you have stockpiled.
There are many small gun safes in the market that are great for storing a few firearms while providing quick access via a pin pad, key or biometrics. Alternatively, you can store a gun in a locked cabinet or drawer, with a gun lock rendering the trigger or action inoperable.
Picture of a trigger combo lock
However, if you are an enthusiast with a large gun collection, you need a solution that properly accommodates all of your guns. One popular solution are gun safes. These are strong and also quite heavy. They also can be bolted to the floor, making the removal of a heavy safe even more difficult.
If your collection is one that really invokes jealousy, you need even more space - say it with me: “Gun Room”. A “Gun Room” is custom built and is best located in the interior of a house, with no windows and a reinforced door with at least one deadbolt and reinforced striker plate.
How to preserve and protect your firearms?
When it comes to the long-term storage of firearms, you need to ensure good storage conditions, otherwise, your firearms can start to deteriorate. Humidity and temperature are the most important factors to control.
According to the NRA guidelines, you should store your guns at a temperature of about 60-65 F, whereas the humidity should be about 45%. If the humidity is too low, wooden furniture on your rifles, like stocks and handguards, can start to dry out and crack, and if the humidity is too high, they can start to swell. High humidity also increases the risk of rust and corrosion, even when your firearms have a blued or other strong finish.
So, if you are storing any firearms for an extended period of time, especially collector firearms, you need to ensure proper temperature and humidity conditions. In most high-quality gun safes, you can find a dry rod, which maintains the moisture levels, and the heat is also controlled in these safes.
Here are some tips that may help with long-term firearm storage.
Remember to keep your guns decocked. This relieves the tension on the springs of your gun, ensuring longevity.
Clean your guns before storing them. Make sure to remove fingerprints, since they can damage the gun. When cleaning your firearms, you should use an ammonia-free cleaner, which will help keep them dry. Don't forget to clean out the bore of the gun as well, especially after shooting.
Treat wooden stocks with wax, especially for older collector rifles, since this can help prevent swelling and cracking.
You can also use a Silicone-Treated Gun Sock, or a purpose-built gun storage bag to help protect your rifles. These bags can keep your rifles safe from rust, dust, and moisture for years.
If you have a dedicated gun room to store your guns, you should consider investing in a dehumidifier/humidifier depending on the climate of your location.
Store your rifle barrel side down, so that any oils from the action can't seep into the stock and cause damage.
Remember not to overcrowd your gun safe. If you store too many guns in a small space, they can get nicks and scratches when you are taking them out of the safe or putting them in.
How to store a gun for home defense?
Though the tips mentioned above are suitable for a gun collection, for an everyday carry gun, or a home defense gun, long-term storage tips aren't practical. You want to keep these guns safe, but they also need to be quickly accessible in the case of a self-defense situation.
For home defense, the best place to store your gun is in a small safe, placed in your bedroom. Ideally, you should choose a safe that can be opened with a passcode, preferably mechanical. These safes won't fail you, there are modern safes with electronic passcode access and even fingerprint access, but they can fail you if their batteries die, or if your hands are too sweaty and the fingerprint sensor does not work. With these small safes, it is best to keep them in a locked cabinet when you are away from home so that thieves can't just run away with the entire safe.
What about firearm insurance?
If you have a large and valuable collection of firearms, it can be quite devastating if it gets damaged or stolen. Now, with most home insurance policies, there is usually a lot of red tape, and those policies won't cover damages or theft of property over a certain value. Homeowners' insurance policies may cover firearms, but usually have limits and the process to be reimbursed is likely long and time-consuming. There are special firearms-specific insurance policies that you can look into, especially if you have a particularly valuable collection of firearms.
Having a detailed list of your firearms is a good idea in case of theft or disasters like flood and fire. Include make, model, serial number, and even pictures. Make sure to have this firearm information in a different location like a bank safe deposit box, so if something were to happen to your home, you would have the gun list to provide for your insurance.
Even if made financially whole by insurance, the sentimental value of particular firearms that have been in the family or are hard to find, cannot be replaced. Guns should be kept secure and out of the reach of children, and thieves. Though the security of your firearms should be your first priority, their protection and preservation are also very important.
Firearms can be quite expensive, and for collections, they can also have a strong sentimental value, especially old and rare collectible pieces. Therefore, you also need to make sure that your firearms are protected from the elements, and are safe from deterioration. Lastly, for a gun that you actively use for home defense, accessibility is a key factor that must be weighed with security.