What is Safe Storage?

More Resources

  • Safe Storage Homepage
  • Safe Storage in Michigan
  • Safe Storage Methods
  • Lethal Means Counseling
  • Types of Safe Storage Laws
  • Safe Storage by State

Safe firearm storage involves storing firearms unloaded, separate from ammunition, and locked through a variety of methods, decreasing unauthorized access to firearms and ammunition. This leads to reductions in intentional and unintentional firearm-related injuries and deaths among children and others, and lower rates of firearm theft. In this section, learn more about the difference safe firearm storage laws can make in preventing firearm injury and death, as well as the different safe storage laws in effect across the country.

Why Safe Storage is Important

Evidence suggests that safe firearm storage can prevent unintentional injury and death.
  • One study estimated that if half of households with unlocked guns switched to locking them, one third of youth gun suicides and unintentional deaths could be prevented, saving 251 lives per year.

Types of Safe Storage Laws

Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have safe storage and/or child access prevention laws. There is a wide range of laws, with some requiring safe storage at all times that a firearm is not in use and some only requiring safe storage when certain individuals are present. There are no federal safe storage or child access prevention laws. Please note: the ages of children prohibited from possessing firearms varies by state.

In some states, firearms are always required to be stored safely whenever they are not in use. (MA, OR)

Other states only require safe storage when certain populations are present, including minors, people ineligible to possess a firearm, or someone posing an imminent risk of harm to themselves or others. (CA, CO, CT, NY)

Most state’s safe storage laws are child access prevention laws, focusing specifically on minors. 

Some states have consequences for storing firearms in a way a minor could access it, regardless of if they gain possession. (DC, MN, NV, VT, VA)

Other states have consequences if a minor gains access to a firearm, whether or not they use it. (DE*, HI, MD, NJ, TX)
*In Delaware, there are also consequences if someone prohibited from possessing a firearm gains access to one.

Additional states only have consequences if a minor uses a firearm after gaining access to it. These can relate to any form of use, use in a public place, use in a threatening manner, or use causing death or serious injury. (FL, IL, IA, ME, MI, NH, NM, NC, RI, WA, WI) 

Other Gun Safety Interventions

Safe storage, alongside other gun safety measures, help reduce firearm suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearm injury or death.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) are a tool that prevents firearm violence by temporarily preventing people at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. More information about ERPOs can be found at the ERPO toolkit home page. 

Lethal Means Counseling

Lethal Means Counseling is when a trusted source, such as a doctor or mental health professional, checks whether a person at risk for suicide has access to a firearm, and works with them and their support system to limit their access. This can include safe storage practices at home or by storing the firearms outside home, such as with a trusted loved one, at gun shops and shooting ranges, or with local law enforcement. For more information on lethal means counseling visit [link to lethal means page]

Firearm Background Checks

Background checks are utilized to ensure that a prospective firearm-purchaser is not legally prohibited from having a firearm. Expanding background checks from only licensed firearm dealers to all firearm sales could keep firearms out of the hands of those prohibited from having them, potentially reducing incidents of firearm-related intimate partner violence, community violence, and mass shootings. 

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

If you are experiencing a crisis, please text or call 988.

The content of this website is not legal advice and is only intended for general informational purposes. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.