What to Know About Gun Locks for Home Safety

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on June 15, 2022
4 min read

Guns are everywhere. There are about 300 million guns in the U.S. Even if you do not own a gun, it is very possible that you, your kids, or someone close to you will come into contact with them. 

There is a need to protect your family from possible harm, and safety gun locks could be a way. 

With over 300 million guns in circulation, everyone is at risk of a potentially harmful gun encounter, but children are especially at risk of accidental shootings because:

  • Most children know the precise location of their parents’ guns, making them vulnerable.
  • Many children cannot tell the difference between a toy and real guns, nor know the damage they can potentially cause. 
  • Gun owners sometimes mistakenly leave their guns unsecured and loaded, even in the presence of kids.

There are many devices that are available to lock handguns and other firearms. Experts in the field recommend lock boxes, safes, gun vaults with button controls, and digital and combination keypad locks. Whatever device is chosen, it should meet the safety standards of your state's Department of Justice. 

Most locking devices come in five types:

  • Cable lock
  • Trigger lock
  • Gun vault or safe
  • Lockboxes
  • Personalized lock

Firearm storage and locking devices can be purchased in the same locations as guns and firearm accessories. This includes sporting goods stores, gun stores, firing ranges, and locksmiths.  

With the availability of a variety of locking tools, the most appropriate choice will be dependent on the type of gun to be secured and its intended use. Prior to securing the firearm with the locking device, make sure it is not loaded.    

The least expensive option is a cable lock. In some areas, law enforcement agencies freely distribute cable locks. To use it, lock the action with the gun open. Insert the cable into the well of the magazine and out through the ejection port. Then, lock the cable and take out the key. Even if the lock does not stop theft, it will keep your gun from firing and from being used by an unauthorized person. This will protect you and your family. 

There are a few basic steps to know when it comes to gun safety:

  • Always treat firearms as if they are loaded. 
  • Keep your finger off of the trigger and on the outside of the trigger guard if you do not intend on firing the gun. 
  • Keep the muzzle of the firearm pointed away and in a safe direction.
  • When there are kids in your house, use locks or other safeguards on your guns or keep them in a secure area only available to adults and locked. Try to store ammo away from the gun
  • Wear eye protection and ear protection when using a firearm.  
  • Learn and obey all local, state, and federal laws when it comes to the purchase, carrying, use, possession, storage, and disposal of guns.

To keep your family safe, especially kids, parents should follow simple steps to keep the number of kids harmed by guns down annually:

  • The dangers of guns should be taught to children. 
  • Educate kids on how to stay far away from guns and not to pick them up
  • Make sure the guns are stored securely and safely and most importantly hidden from your kids. 
  • Talk to the parents of your kid's friends to find out if they have guns in their house and car. If so, stress the importance of storing them in a safe location away from the kids.

These tips can help you to remain safe in a home that has firearms. Make sure you practice the following tips at all times:

  • Whenever a gun is handled for any reason, check to make sure it is unloaded.
  • Know your surroundings, as well as your target. Look around the area in front of and behind your target to make sure the area is clear. This is to make sure that if the bullet does not hit the target, it does not hit someone else. Do not shoot if in doubt.
  • Never shoot at an area that is only a color, sound, movement, or unidentifiable shape. 
  • Know the type of gun you have and how to operate it. You should be familiar with and comfortable with using it. This includes how to unload, load, and clear a gun malfunction. 
  • Never assume the usage directions for one type of gun are the same for another. If unsure, you can ask the person who sold you the gun or the manufacturer directly. 
  • As said before, it cannot be stressed enough that a gun should be stored safely and securely. This is to stop unauthorized use. When not in use, it should be out of sight. The use of a trigger or cable lock is vitally important to prevent misfire. The gun also should be stored unloaded in a lock box or gun safe with the ammunition elsewhere. Both a lock and a storage container together provide maximum protection!

When using a locking gun case and gun locks, you should keep the lock and cable outside of the trigger. The cable should always be pushed into the padlock and the key turned until it is locked securely. When the key is removed, pull the cable to make sure it is secure. 

Store the key to the gun lock and locking case separate from the firearm. Store the key in an area that is not easy for children and unauthorized users to get to. You should not attempt to work the gun action with the lock in place because it can damage both the lock and the gun. If the protective coating on the lock becomes detached from the steel cable or damaged around the lock face, replace the lock as soon as possible.