If you own a gun, you need to develop a gun security strategy. Period, paragraph, end of story.

If you have kids in the house, that strategy needs to be an everyday endeavor. If you don’t, but kids or guests cross the threshold of your home more than once a millennium, you still need to think about gun security.

Yes, the best security is training and education. But don’t forget to include visitors, who may not be as well-trained as your family, in your gun safety plan.

With a veritable plethora of safe gun storage options readily available, there’s just no excuse for an accident resulting from unauthorized gun access by a child or house guest.

As with most consumer products, you can spend a lot or a little depending on the features and quality you want. The best news? For gun owners, the solutions start at the very reasonable cost of free! Of course, if you want extra features and gizmos, you can pay more.

Let’s take a look at a couple of solutions across the spectrum from free to platinum level.

Free solutions

Yes, free. Really.

You’ve probably been hearing lots of noise from so called “gun safety” organizations with really wordy names. These folks claim to be promoting “gun safety” because those types of headlines make the Nightly News. When you look under the covers to find what safety programs they offer, you’ll find less substance than the contents of Justin Bieber’s PhD thesis.

If you want to get real gun safety results in your home, you need look no further than the gun industry itself. The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Project Childsafe program has been delivering free gun locks to anyone who needs one for years. Partnering with local police stations across the country, the NSSF has delivered over 36 million safety kits including free gun locks and safety brochures. If you’re keeping count, that’s over 36 million more safety kits than Michael Bloomberg has delivered.

If you’re a gun owner, you can render your gun safe at home for no cost at all. NSSF Safety Kits include a cable lock that renders a handgun completely inoperable. If you have a semiautomatic handgun, the cable winds through the slide and magazine well, preventing the gun from being loaded or fired. Revolver? No problem. Run the cable lock through the cylinder to put the gun out of operation. You can use a simple cable lock on most any type of handgun, rifle, and pump or semiautomatic shotgun.

To find out where you can get a free gun lock, just visit projectchildsafe.org.

A GunVault like this one is touchpad- or fingerprint-activated, and can provide security without sacrificing instant access to your gun. Image courtesy GunVault.
A GunVault like this one is touchpad- or fingerprint-activated, and can provide security without sacrificing instant access to your gun. Image courtesy GunVault.

If you own a gun for occasional recreational or competition use, there is no reason at all not to keep it secured with a simple gun lock. It’s free, takes less than 30 seconds to remove, and provides excellent gun security. If you intend to use a gun for home defense, yet still want to store it safely, you’ll want to invest a few dollars in a quick-access gun storage vault.

Quick-access solutions

You’ll pay a few bucks for these, but in return, you’ll get the ability to safely store and secure a loaded-and-ready handgun away from prying fingers—but still ready for immediate use. While designs and features vary, the ideas behind these solutions are similar. Using combination locks, touch pads, and RFID or fingerprint technology, these gun lock boxes keep your gun locked away from everyone but you and other designated users. In the event of an emergency, you can still access your firearm in seconds. Let’s look at a few different options.


GunVaults are designed from the ground up for you, and authorized users designated by you only, to open easily in the dark. The original model featured a four-finger button combination mechanism. The user sets a pattern of their choice. The buttons are recessed in four finger-sized slots so the combination can be easily entered in the dark. Newer models add the option of a fingerprint scanner; simply swipe your finger and the vault opens. Both methods are designed to be foolproof in the middle of the night with no visibility required—it’s all done by touch.

GunVaults come in various configurations including tabletop, desk mount, drawer, and even clock-radio units. While they can offer some security against theft, the primary purpose is to keep unauthorized fingers off your gun.

GunVaults retail for about $100 and up, depending on the model.

The GunBox offers high-tech security features. Image by Tom McHale.
The GunBox offers high-tech security features. Image by Tom McHale.


The GunBox looks like a high-tech computer or sound system accessory. Its space-age appearance and sleek looks won’t give away its real purpose: safe and secure storage of a handgun.

The GunBox is built like a tank—someone would have to work really hard to break into it. But that’s beside the point. The primary idea of something like a GunBox is to keep unauthorized hands off away from your gun. If your primary concern is protection from fire and/or burglary, then get a 1,500-pound safe and bolt it to your floor.

The GunBox has different options for secure access to the interior. The primary access method is via an RFID chip embedded in the unit itself. Simply wave a provided bracelet or ring over the top of the box, and it opens automatically. You can also get a fingerprint scanner in addition to the RFID lock. The fingerprint scanner allows you to store multiple fingerprints so you can open it with different fingers on your own hands, and also program fingerprints from a spouse or significant other. In my testing, I found that I could open the box with any orientation of my finger on the scan pad—it didn’t require me to achieve perfect, or even consistent, placement.

The GunBox is as high-tech as it looks. You can order versions with motion detectors and GPS tracking to monitor potential theft of the box itself. The optional monitoring service will text you if someone messes with it.

The most basic model of the GunBox retails for $279.

At the high end of the price spectrum are wall units like this NRA Jotto Gear Gun Cabinet. Image courtesy NRA.
At the high end of the price spectrum are wall units like this NRA Jotto Gear Gun Cabinet. Image courtesy NRA.

NRA Jotto Gear Wall Cabinet

A new product for 2014 for home gun security and concealment is the NRA Wall Cabinet by Jotto Gear.

The Jotto Gear Cabinet mounts between wall studs. From the outside, it appears to be a full-length mirror. On the inside is a sophisticated gun security system

Inside the Jotto Wall Cabinet is a hidden multi-gun compartment. The mirror slides open with a hidden catch in the top corner, which provides a little bit of security in itself. The real protection, against thieves and unauthorized users, lies in the biometric security system inside. A single finger scan unlocks both a pistol security holster and long gun lock, so both are instantly accessible.

With all of its snazzy features, the Jotto sells for about $1,250.

These are just a few of the solutions available on the market. Whatever your budget (including zero) there is a solution out there that will keep your guns safe. Help spread the word among fellow gun owners. Remember, many accidents result from a guest of children’s friend finding an unsecured gun. It’s an easy problem to solve with just a little effort.

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.

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One thought on “Home Gun Safety Strategies: From Free to Not-so-free

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this vitally important article. Gun owners must be at the tops of their games to ensure safety. Tragedy is often only a second or two away. Recall the tragedy of a dad taking his young son, 3 or 4 years old, to visit a friend of the dad’s. While the men were chatting, the child roamed the home, entered the friend’s bedroom, saw a pistol, which was loaded, resting on a table and shot himself. The heart cries forever. We gun owners must be vigilant, thoughtful and, indeed, strategic. Separately, I congratulate McHale for this wonderful analogy: “you’ll find less substance than the contents of Justin Bieber’s PhD thesis.”

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