When an Arizona mother walked into her bedroom and saw her two-year old playing with her husband’s gun, it was a Project ChildSafe lock—provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation—that she credited with preventing a tragedy.
When it comes to our children, loved ones and visitors in our homes, we want to prevent a loaded firearm from being found, played with, stolen, or misused. That’s a tragedy waiting to happen, and it’s so easily prevented. That’s why NSSF launched Project ChildSafe in 1999 as a nationwide program to distribute free gun locks, promote education about safe firearms handling and emphasize the importance of storing firearms responsibly when they aren’t in use.
A free cable lock from Project ChildSafe is always better than no secure storage at all (or assuming that a hidden gun is a “safe” gun), but a cable lock may not be the most desired storage option for all gun owners. Features including theft deterrence, protection from heat (fire) or other damage, and access to the firearm in an emergency are all important considerations.
NSSF and Project ChildSafe have developed a helpful infographic on various storage options, depending on which features are most important to you. Some highlights of those options:
- Gun Cases are affordable, portable, protect guns from accidental damage and come in a variety of materials depending on the level of durability and security you’re looking for.
- Lock Boxes can be opened with a key, a combination, finger pads (buttons) or with your fingerprints alone. Most are portable (unless mounted to a nightstand or other furniture in the home or car) and made of metal, meaning they can provide greater theft deterrence and damage protection than a plastic gun case, and making them more expensive.
- Gun Lockers/Gun Cabinets can hold multiple firearms and are made of lightweight metal, making them more affordable than heavy-gauge gun safes.
- Gun Safes are able to store several guns at once, are usually fireproof (to varying temperatures). They are an excellent option for the target shooter or hunter who has many different firearms.
With any storage option, there is also the question of accessibility — how quickly can I get my gun if I need it? Some gun vault and safe manufacturers have videos showing how the time needed to access a firearm from their products is comparable to (or even better than) grabbing a gun from a drawer or the top of a nightstand.
ConcealedCarry.com president Jacob Paulsen also did an independent analysis on the subject. He concludes that while secure storage may add 1.5 to 3.2 seconds to response time vs. a gun sitting loose on a nightstand, his preference—as a parent of young children—is for the peace of mind and the inability of criminals to access his gun that come with secure storage.
Ultimately every gun owner needs to decide for themselves what steps they want to take to prevent their guns from being stolen or misused, so they don’t become part of a preventable tragedy. Fortunately, the number of fatal firearms accidents have declined to historic low levels, even while firearm sales have increased.
This trend is something we all want to see continue in the right direction, and not because of new laws or regulations, but because gun owners themselves remain committed to making safety and responsibility a priority. It’s only when we get complacent about firearm safety that accidents happen, which is why an emphasis on storing firearms responsibly bears repeating. The more often responsible gun owners take steps to secure their firearms when not in use, the more accidents we can help prevent, and the fewer guns will end up in the wrong hands.
Visit NSSF’s Project ChildSafe at www.projectchildsafe.org to access their free library of safety information, including tips for safe firearm storage at home, a hunting safety checklist, videos on how to talk to your kids about gun safety and other resources.