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Safe storage laws are the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. Once the government mandates how you store your gun, unannounced home inspections are on the cards. As they are in the UK right now. Of course, you should practice safe storage, regardless. Here are the three best ways to do so . . .

1. Train your family in the Four Rules of Gun Safety

The safest storage method for any gun is between your ears. And the ears of everyone in your family. Everyone who may have access to firearms should understand and respect The Four Rules of Gun Safety.

Any storage device be breached, including a tank-like gun safe. All an interloper has to do is either A) use force or B) use the combination. If you think your children are too weak or dumb or unmotivated to use either entry technique, you’re only right until you’re not.

It must also be said: sh*t happens. It’s entirely possible that you’ll leave your safe open by mistake. Or forget to put your gun away. A guest may not safely store their gun in your house.

The only way to increase the odds of preventing a potential storage-related tragedy is to make sure your family members know how to safely handle guns. That’s it.

2. Home carry

God knows I’ve banged this drum over the last seven years — for personal defense. Again, there’s no need to turn a home defense into a foot race. In terms of gun safety, home carry is also a capital idea.

Which gun do you handle most? Your carry gun. If that gun is on your person, you are in control of it. What else needs saying? That you can’t carry all your guns around the home, or even one gun all the time. So you need . . .

3. A “proper” safe

Plenty of people keep a shoebox-sized finger safe by their bed and/or small safes placed strategically around the house. IF family members are gun safe, OK, sure, why not? As long as you understand that it takes seconds to prise open a small gun safe.

But every gun owner with a long gun and/or multiple handguns needs a “proper” safe. By that I mean a large beast — let’s face it guns multiply like rabbits — that’s a bitch to open without the combo.

There as many big ass safes on the market as there are gun guys warning you just how easy it is to defeat them. They’re not wrong; research your safe purchase(s) thoroughly using Al Gore’s Internet.

I advise against bio-metric locks. The hang time is still pretty significant and the bloody fingerprint problem is a thing. Assuming, that is, that you might need emergency access to your firearms. Which you might.

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    • I actually bolted my safe through my basement concrete slab! (I installed “molly” type anchors that open up underneath the slab.) I also bolted my safe into the concrete wall behind it.

      Nevertheless, a determined criminal could get into my safe or remove it all together without too much trouble and in fairly short order. All they would need is a large crowbar, a steel wedge, and a sledge hammer. I suspect it would take a thief less than 5 minutes to open it and/or remove it from the slab/wall.

      Fortunately, most thieves do not carry large crowbars, steel wedges, and sledge hammers around with them.

      Pro-tip: don’t store particularly valuable firearms in a safe unless the safe is hidden behind a false wall or similar … the most accomplished thief in the world cannot steal something if they don’t know it is there!

      • “the most accomplished thief in the world cannot steal something if they don’t know it is there!”

        That’s a good point. ColdNorth has an even better idea – hide the main one, and have a dummy safe with a few broken-ass crap guns as ‘bait’…

        • EDIT – Sad breaking news, Chuck Berry just died at age 90.

          R.I.P., Chuck. You will truly be missed.

          This calls for a Chuck Berry tribute video.

          No, not ‘Johnny B. Goode’. Or ‘Maybellene’.

          Something more appropriate for the gang here in TTAG: 😉

      • Here’s the thing: most criminals are lazy. They’re not the ripped hardcore ex special forces you see on TV. Stealing a large safe, or breaking into one, is too much like work for the majority of your criminals. Remember people who choose a life of crime did it for many reasons, one big one is that their flat out too lazy or stupid to work hard. Generally they are going to break in and grab any that’s expensive and not hard to get abs bolt quickly. So generally speaking, a large safe will secure your firearms from theft from most burglars. Now, it is true that there are experienced, “professional”, burglars out there who can do all kinds of high speed shit. But most are not of this caliber.

        • Underestimate the opposition at your peril.

          Tweakers are shockingly good sometimes. A guy I worked with locked up his welding rig 27 ways from Sunday. He parked it for 10 minutes to pay for an acetylene tank exchange, came back and nearly everything of value was gone.

          10 minutes, right outside a welding supply shop and in broad daylight they stole $50K worth of his gear. They knew what was valuable and they were surprisingly adept at getting to it. They even used his own stuff to snag his gang box in its entirety.

          The only things of real value they didn’t take were the truck and the welding unit itself. They did however unbolt it from the truck, so they probably would have taken it if they hadn’t been scared off by something.

          Turns out they were confronted by another welder and convinced him it was their truck and the gear was all being removed to go onto a newer, better truck.

          Fortis Fortuna adiuvat, and even tweakers can be big brass balls bold.

        • Yes, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to the contrary and drugged fuel criminals present a challenge, but look, I deal with these guys for my career. I’m telling you most of them are just flat out losers. I’m not telling you to underestimate the enemy, but I’m trying to argue against the notion that “safes are pointless.” I hear far too often “why buy a safe, badguys can break into all of them in notime!”. This just isn’t true because most “badguys”, are, well, bad, at a lot of things. Having a safe will protect your stuff from the majority of thugs out there.

        • I don’t think that safes are pointless and I agree with you that the majority of thieves are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

          I just come at it from the other end for the most part. I assume the criminal to be smart, enterprising, fairly prepared and capable of improvising.

          IMHO, if you come at it from that direction you cover all the idiots plus a decent percentage of the smarter ones. It’s not foolproof because any security made by man can be defeated by man, but it ups your odds of success.

          It’s my experience that if you can make it hard enough most people will move to easier pickings. If it fails, that’s what a rider on your insurance is for.

          A safe isn’t useless but it’s not a guarantee either. All safes can be defeated in minutes if you know how to do it and if they steal the safe they have as much time as they need to pop it open.

        • I am one of those who believes thieves are basically dumb and lazy, or else they would be smart enough to leech off the taxpayers and be on welfare.
          I have an alarm on my car (some ask why, as it’s old), and I’m well aware that it can be bypassed fairly easily. But that little flashing LED tells any would-be car thieves that THIS car isn’t as easy as the one next door. Low hanging fruit.
          My gun safe is about as immobile as it can be made. It says “Whatever is in here (and it’s probably guns, given the cleaning kits, ammo, etc out and about) isn’t as easy to get as what the neighbors have.” And that usually works.
          But like the car, there are those who are able to put the thought and effort into getting what they want. For those, there is insurance. It is part and parcel with being in a world full of people who are too lazy or dumb to do honest work.

  1. Another thing to look at is proper concealment. Given enough time (like on a vacation), any safe can be broken into- but only if the thief in question knows that a safe is present. A sturdy safe that does not appear to be a safe or is hidden behind something distinctly non-safe-ish can help in this respect.

    Another idea is distraction- have an easy to open safe with some broken/deactivated guns in it (just make sure they look functional). This will hopefully reduce their chances of searching for your hidden safe. If a criminal gets into your house and sees things like gun magazines/books, reloading supplies, cleaning supplies, etc, they will suspect you have guns. This way, they will find what they are looking for, just not what you want to remain hidden.

    This sounds a bit overkill-ish, but up here in Canada we’ve been seeing a more “professional” grade of burglar, in addition to the usual tweaker/fentanyl addicts and home invaders. It takes a bit more effort to protect yourself from them- unless you’re never on vacation or away from home for significant amounts of time. The difficulty for rural folks around here is that there is always a city not so far away that has a significant criminal element. Combine that with a legal system that gives out slaps on the wrists for real criminals (while throwing the book at ordinary citizens), and you have a problem.

  2. “Safe storage laws are the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. Once the government mandates how you store your gun, unannounced home inspections are on the cards.”

    The government also mandates that you not smoke weed, don’t drink under 21, and don’t murder your next-door neighbor, cut up the body, and reassemble it in your basement like ‘Mr. Potatohead.’

    But they still need to get a warrant based on evidence to legally enter without consent.

    (note: there are some counties in anti-gun states where they mandate that you buy a safe if you have a certain amount of guns, however…)

    • In NYC, for example, if you own four guns or more (who doesn’t!), the cops can inspect your safe storage whenever they damn well please with no warrant, based on consent.

      And you don’t want to piss them off, either, because they can revoke you or just not issue you that all-important permission to purchase.

    • In Canada they can search RPAL holders houses without a warrant. There are some rules around it (they can’t just rustle through anywhere in the house for no reason for example), but you cannot refuse.

    • At present, yes, a warrant is required.
      However (and there’s always a “however”), it takes no imagination to think that any government, federal, state or local, (see California) where it is necessary by law to register a certain type of gun, or even any type of gun, and that registration is turned into permission to do an anytime inspection by a simple rule change. Then, at any time (and why would you need to be present?) the police can enter your property and check to ensure that every registered gun is “properly” stored, and, of course, “properly” is defined by people who don’t want you to have guns at all. In an approved safe, with approved trigger locks, with bolts open, or chamber flags. And no ammo in the same room, and all ammo also “properly” stored. This doesn’t really affect your 2A rights as much as California’s restriction on the types of guns you car allowed to own. With this type of regulation, no one is saying you can’t own or carry any gun you want to, it’s saying that when you aren’t carrying the gun, it must be safely stored.
      And God help you if they find an unregistered gun.
      And, of course, the police must be able to check inside the safe to ensure the trigger locks are applied properly, there’s no ammo in the gun safe bolts are open or flags are in place. Whether you are there or not. Because LEOs are always honest, and never commit crimes, you can trust your police to do this without any fear that any of your guns (or other property) will go missing during these unattended inspections.
      And, of course, if the police, during one of these unannounced, possibly unattended inspections, if they see any illegal activity or items, you will be liable for the consequences of such discovery.
      If you have an FFL or C&R license, you have already agreed to be inspected at any time. I believe it is not necessary for anyone to make an appointment; I’ve been in gun shops when the suits just show up.

  3. A tip I got from the guy who installed my dad’s safe.

    Make sure that the safe isn’t installed somewhere with a straight line to a door or window. The installer had seen numerous cases where the bad guys simple drove a truck up to the house, put a cable around the safe, yanked it out and then put it in the bed and drove off. Forcing them to go around a corner makes doing this much, much more difficult.

  4. Many variables. However, a solid safe, bolted down is a fine first defense.

    My particulars involve a quiet neighborhood, a next door retiree whose home 99% of the time, two former sand box Vets who work nights and are home during the day across the street. We all know eachother and all have firearms in one way shape or form.

    Good neighbors help.

    It would take a mobile machine shop/cutting torch crew to get my stuff. An F450 with welding/torch equip and at least two bad guys in front of my house will raise red flags,
    and bring attention.

    For those in the sticks, more security provisions maybe and probably are needed.

    I have no kids in the house, all grown up. So home carry with one over here, one over there, is practical for my situation.

    Point being, assess and evaluate. If you have decent neighbors get to know them. Keep it local, and indulge in FaceTime or meet space. No texts, emails, f book crap.

    If not, be discreet and secure your stuff the best you can.

    Broad topic. Alarms, perimeter lighting, motion sensors, etc,,,,,,

    It’s our stuff, and they can’t have it. Period.

  5. I saw a pretty cool one. It was a full size gun safe hidden in a recess behind a sliding book case.

  6. My idea of “safe storage” is to put the guns up on a high shelf where the dogs can’t reach them.

    • Damn dogs are ALWAYS getting their filthy paws on my guns it’s why I now hide the handguns in pots on a shelf over the stove. Now the long guns are a different story, can’t fit THEM in pots and garment bags hanging on the rod in the closet are out, the dogs found them, took ’em all out in the yard with their mangy neighborhood pals and burned up all my ammo shooting at the damn cats.

  7. Modern abrasive sawblades will cut through most safe housings in a few minutes – they will cut out the lock and pop the door open. Gas or electric saws to suit are cheap and small, although noisy. Best to do as per above posts and have the good stuff well hidden. And chain that small box safe by your bed to the floor so it doesn’t get carried away by a smash & grab burglar.

    • “Modern abrasive sawblades will cut through most safe housings in a few minutes – they will cut out the lock and pop the door open.”

      Never heard of a relocking device (RLD)?

      • “Never heard of a relocking device (RLD)?”

        All your safe does, no matter how well it is hidden or how strong it is, is slow a determined thief down. That’s it.
        If the thief knows you have a gun safe, and is one of the few who is smart enough, he will find it, and either take it or open it.
        Alarms are all well and good, but there are thieves out there who can bypass any alarm system. Check into high-end alarm systems sometime; it will give you an idea of what it takes to bypass an alarm. Your average home alarm system isn’t as sophisticated. Dogs can be silenced. Neighbors can be fooled.
        Live in a city? You’re having a new sound system installed. The truck outside says so.
        Live in a rural area? Your septic system is being fixed. The truck outside says so.
        No matter what precautions you take, it’s been done before. Museums with million-dollar security systems have been burgled. High end cars have been stolen. Federal agents have had their guns, laptops, vehicles stolen. Anything can be stolen, it just depends on whether or not there’s someone out there who wants it badly enough.
        The idea of what’s enough is kinda like this: It’s never enough. That’s why we must have the idea that it’s only property, and insurance is a thing. If somebody steals your stuff, it isn’t personal. It’s only business.

  8. Even if you get in my safe most of my guns are inoperable. The bolts, slides or other key parts are in a relatives safe.

      • While not fool proof(nothing is,God just builds a better fool!) it makes them less appealing and marketable. It gives you and your clan a better chance to catch them when they try to find replacement part or sell parts. Keeps them from shooting anyone in the short term. If they can read it lets them know it is not worth cutting into safe. My old house was broken into once They stole CDs Booze and my bedside 870. I knew it must be neighborhood kids but one of them cut themselves on the window they came in and out of. I told the cops when they showed up that my blood trailing weenie dog could find these punks; You should have seen the look on the kids face when he opened his door and saw me a cop and then looked down and recognized my Doxie!

  9. As someone who lives in an apartment and moves frequently I use gun cabinets ( like you see at dicks ect) to lock up my weapons. I do it more for children then anything else. Even though I bolt them down it would take all of 10 seconds to defeat them with a crowbar. I have insurance for my guns I would just hate a kid (maybe my kid) to harm themselves with a gun. Situation dictates that I can’t lug a big safe everywhere I go.

  10. “Safe” is just another word for ‘I got a federal grant to effect change’. You see it on the cigarette, seat-belt, immunization, don’t text and drive, food pyramid, stay in school, prevent forest fires, anti-DUI billboards out there.

    Next time you see those billboards just know those mfs got millions of dollars of your tax dollars, and billions of class action lawsuit money to put them there.

    Make no mistake:

    BE SAFE!

    But if some mf is telling you, or your neighbors that they can MAKE YOU SAFE. Tell them they better F OFF in a non dubious manner and run the F home and hide.

    AND IF THE STUPID MFs WANT TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE TO ‘VERIFY’ YOUR “safety” YOU MIGHT COSIDER DROPPING THE MFs RIGHT THERE, or stacking them up at your door, because the attack on you is 3/4 over already.

    • Dude, let’s say your neighbors house blows up because they stored a hundred cases of dynamite in their basement. They didn’t need no stinking laws to tell them what to do. Now your house is in flames too. Are you telling me that it all good and even the fire Marshal looked the other way at your neighbors pile of explosives you wouldn’t be pissed enough to press charges?

      Or just your wife is killed by an underage drunk driver in a sports car?

      • Yeah, your “government” inspection going to protect you from either of those? If they have a use for dynamite other than overtly nefarious, hopefully they’re careful, but spot inspections aren’t going to protect you from that.

        You think government can make you safe? Protect you or your wife and kids?

        You also sound like you live too close to your f’d up neighbors that you don’t trust and you want your government to fix. City much?

    • JOE! WTF are you thinking? Dropping them like cordwood all around your front door may make someone think your house is not SAFE!

  11. Safes=UNSAFE.

    The optimal way to protect firearms is with MORE firearms!

    Hell gun lockers and safes of all types even heavy ones, the kind you bolt to floors and walls, have ALL been stolen. In one relatively recent case in the last year cops in either SC or Georgia followed the trail of 1″ deep scars and ground up pavement from one gun owners house to the burglars home not far away. Yep the brain surgeons chained the large safe (I believe it weighed 800 lbs loaded) to a truck, dragged it through the exterior wall and away they went down the street not a care in the world save for when the cops came-a-knockin’ on their door after following the deep gouges in the blacktop. Oops!.

    The best “home” firearm storage I’ve come across and I’ve seen quite a few with large gun safes while shopping for homes in Virginia in 2014 and 2016 is when I was looking at homes west of Martinsville, Va. The single story brick building was an old Depression-era bank, tin walls halfway up with gorgeous tin ceilings and best of all it still had the original bank vault inside, sadly I couldn’t convince the wife that it was perfect for us (me).

  12. Serious question on home carry, how many people actually do it? As soon as I get home my pants either come off of they get switched to sweat pants. No way am I wearing a rig while at home.

    • WHOA, TMI.

      And two words for you:

      1) Don
      2) Johnson

      Use a shoulder holster at home, and you’ll want to wear one for your away games. Plus it may also make you also want to drive a Daytona Spider, which might force you to at least put on pajama pants and a smoking jacket. Jeesh.

  13. A proper safe? Thats laughable… I agree with the rest of the points.

    I know of no safe that is reasonably priced that cant be broken into in 15 minutes with nothing but a $15 horrible fraught grinder and a couple of zip disks if the criminal has access to the side of the safe. Even the fronts are hardly bulletproof, just need a bigger grinder…

    I will never purchase a “safe” because honestly even though I own some nice guns, Id prefer to lock them up in fully enclosed cabinet to keep my kids safe, and keep honest people honest. My insurance company can sort out the rest if my house gets broken into.

    • True, all safes can be breached. Safes as I view them only protect against the neophyte burglar, of which there are many more than the ones that come to your home with the proepr tools for safe breaching.

      In my home, the cameras record them as they step onto my property and the alarm sounds as they breach any window or door in my home. I think most if not all theives will choose a much safer target than my home.

      My safes keep my kid and his friends away from my guns.

    • OP does sound a bit safe “commercial-ish”, but I think it’s right to seek to purchase the biggest one reasonable.

      The weakest part of your personal defense, is the one that you feel so much security in, that you lessen your overall general “concern” (a/k/a you Maginot Line yourself).

      A safe (regardless of quality or brand) cannot be allowed to cause you so much peace of mind that you lose your edge.

    • Maybe so, but I have a difficult time seeing how to break into my safe, and generally consider myself smarter and more sober than the average burglar. 600 pounds empty, bolted to the floor, in a very confined space, if you drag it through the exterior wall you are now in a pit 7 feet deep surrounded by natural stone, 50-75 feet from pavement for your truck to get traction on, hinges inside the safe so you can’t knock them off, no room to get a crowbar into either side, and the whole thing cost $1000 installed and bolted to slab. My only mistake was having it installed 3″ from the walls, instead of flush, but normally you’d have to drag it around a 90 degree corner, then a 180 degree corner, then through a locked car or two, before your getaway trying to drag it up a very steep hill, all on a dead-end street with only one outlet 1.3 miles away, a great place for cops to just stop and wait for you to arrive. Installed without any real reason after living here for 20 years without a sign of any crime problem. You can say it’s not worthwhile trying to protect what you own, but I disagree. Of course, I go so far since it has a couple hundred grand worth of investment gold and jewelry in it besides my guns, and all manner of deeds, contracts, etc thrown into the bargain. I don’t expect to need the insurance.

  14. There’s another reason to get a safe besides the keeping robbers out part. It’s the whole “fire” thing part. Having a fireproof safe for documents, jewelry and other things of sentimental value is great. Obviously, something that is on the market and easily replaced via insurance money doesn’t need to go in the safe (like my 10/22), but my Winchester M1 does.

    • Does Homeowners cover firearms or is that a separate insurance?
      I know all policies are different, mine only mentions jewelry.

  15. I appreciate these tips on taking the right efforts to keep your home safe from gun issues, especially in getting a gun safe despite gun training in the home. It’s important for your kids (if you’ve got them) to see how important it is for you to keep your guns in a safe, unreachable location. This can help them and your whole family feel more secure at home.

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