Guns have very different meanings for many different people. Some gun owners collect guns as hobbies and hold a deep enthusiasm for them. Others consider them simply as a last resort form of self defense. To others, they are family heirlooms. There are a multitude of reasons for keeping guns in the house. Whatever yours are, it’s always helpful and important to review gun safety at home, especially if there are children regularly in the household.

Storage

It is not enough to just hide your guns away. They need to be locked and secured somewhere out of reach, so there is no chance that any child (yours or visiting) could possibly come upon it. The guns need to be locked in a gun safe or equivalent by themselves; leaning against the wall in a typically locked room isn’t good enough. They should not be on display; a child’s curiosity will always surprise you—so will a seasoned burglar’s resourcefulness.

Along with securing your guns, don’t forget about these other helpful tips.

  • Keep your ammunition locked up in a separate location from the guns. These locks should use different keys or combinations
  • Guns should not be loaded when in storage.
  • Keys should be kept separately from the day-to-day housekeys.
  • Unload, clean, and store your guns immediately after returning from a hunting trip, gun range, or anytime that you have used them. Don’t put it off!

Handling and Cleaning

Never leave your guns unattended while you are handling them or cleaning them. Don’t leave them out while you take a break or put it off until tomorrow. Cleaning and storage of your guns should be considered a part of the gun outing and usage, not an appended “to-do.” Clean them carefully and properly with the proper cleaning supplies. Once you are done cleaning, lock up the ammunition and the gun (separately). Then, remember to store your cleaning supplies in a safe and out-of-reach place; many often contain dangerous chemicals that children should not be even given the opportunity to play with.

Here is also a reminder for basic rules for gun handling:

  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Do not touch the trigger when handling the gun. You should never be making contact with the trigger unless you are ready to fire.
  • Use a trigger lock.

Familiarity

If you own a gun, you need to know how to use it. Guns are very powerful and potentially dangerous possessions; they deserve respect, and it is of utmost importance that you understand how they work and how they are meant to be handled and used. Even if you own one for “just in case,” and never expect to use it recreationally, it is a liability; it will be a poor backup anyways if you don’t know how to operate it. Practice at a gun range or another safe location.

Also, don’t make guns taboo in the household; the reality is that you have one in the house now, and information is better than ignorance. Have a conversation with your kids about guns and gun safety. Take them with you to the gun range. Hearing the loud shots firing off and witnessing the power and proper usage of the weapon will help them understand that this is not a toy.

Gun safety in the home is as important as gun safety on the range or field. Proper storage and safety preserves the gun itself as well as the well-being of those with whom you share your home.