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Safe Gun Storage

Safe Gun Storage in the Home

Guns are kept in nearly 40 percent of homes with children in the United States. Tragically, guns kill or disable a child under age 10 every other day.

In Washington state, about 19 children are killed and 30 are hospitalized with firearm injuries every year.

Children as young as three may be strong enough to pull a gun trigger.

If you choose to keep a gun at home

Gun storage is a basic child safety issue, akin to the safe storage of medicine and household poisons and using car seats and bike helmets.

If you choose to have a gun in your house, we encourage safe gun storage:

  • Keep the gun unloaded, out of reach and locked — in a gun safe, lock box or with a trigger lock.
  • Lock all ammunition in a separate location from the firearm.
  • Hide the keys to all lock boxes.
  • When the gun is unlocked, keep it in your sight at all times.
  • Teach your children to stay away from guns, but do not rely on them to be able to do so.

When your child visits another home

Don’t be afraid to ask, "Are there guns in the home?" "How are they stored?"

And talk to the parents and grandparents of your child’s friends about gun safety and storage.

Gun storage options

Gun safe/vault: Large sizes are available to accommodate rifles and/or multiple weapons and other valuables. The size and weight of this option makes it difficult to steal. A gun safe or vault can cost as little as $100 or more than $2000.

Lock box: Smaller than a safe, a lock box still keeps a handgun inaccessible to children when used correctly. It may include a key or personalized code as a locking option. Many can be bolted to the floor to make them difficult to steal. Cost is approximately $40 to $200.

Trigger lock: This much smaller device is installed on your gun to make the trigger inoperable while locked. Teenagers and older children may be able to unlock or disable the key or personalized code on some models. Most trigger locks cost less than $40.

Cable lock: This device is looped through the gun chamber to prevent the gun from firing. However, some cables are thin and can be cut. Cost is usually less than $20.

If you have a gun you no longer want
Consult with local law enforcement on how to safely dispose of guns in your community. Be aware there are strict laws governing transfer of gun ownership.

For more information

Information about King County Public Health’s Safe Storage Saves Lives campaign is available at The State of California Department of Justice has created this helpful roster of certified firearm safety devices.

Additional Resources

PDF DocumentSafe Gun Storage Information