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National Issue

Secure Storage of Firearms

An estimated 4+ million children in the United States live in a home in which at least one firearm is stored both loaded and unlocked.1 That’s why Sandy Hook Promise supports state and federal legislation that increases the secure storage of firearms.

What Is Secure Storage or “Safe Storage”?

To prevent children and other prohibited persons from accessing a firearm, all firearms should be:

  1. Securely encased.​ Firearms should be stored in a locked case, container, safe, lock box, or other device or storage area. Secure storage locations can only be unlocked by means of a key, a combination, a biometric reader, or other similar means. Recommended storage does not include a trunk, glove box, or other storage area of a motor vehicle.
  2. Disabled or rendered inoperable by a firearm safety device. A firearm should either be stored unloaded and separate from ammunition or have a device or lock that is designed to prevent the firearm from being operated without first deactivating the device. These may include gun locks or biometric safety features, among other devices. ​
  3. In a location where it can’t be found by others. The location of the firearm should be known only to those legally allowed to operate it.
Secure Storage Keeps Families Safe. The image shows children accessing unsecured lethal means, such as medicine in an open medicine cabinet and a gun left on a table.
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Why Is Secure Storage Important?

The secure storage of firearms protects young people from both accidental and intentional gun violence. Research has found that:

  • More than 2/3 of school shooters acquired the firearm(s) used in their attacks from either their own home or that of a relative.2
  • More than 75% of firearms used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional firearm injuries came from the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.3
  • 3 out of 4 children know the location of their parent’s gun in the home. 1 in 3 of these children admitted to handling the gun unsupervised.4

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hundreds of child and adolescent deaths by firearm could be prevented each year with safe and secure storage practices.5

What Are Policies for Secure Storage?

In 2019, Sandy Hook Promise was proud to support the passage of Ethan’s Law in Connecticut. This law strengthens safe firearm storage requirements by closing state loopholes on criminal liability for the unsafe storage of a firearm that results in the death of a minor under age 18. The legislation was named in honor of Ethan Song, who died in an accidental shooting due to an unsecured firearm in 2018.

Sandy Hook Promise supports the federal version of Ethan’s Law (S.173 / H.R. 660). The proposed law would create penalties for the unsafe storage of firearms. It would also incentivize states to pass safe storage laws by providing them with federal funding for implementation.

Related Issues

Suicide is the leading cause of death among school age youth. We can prevent youth suicide and violence  by knowing the warning signs and connecting students with services and supports.

  1. Firearm Storage in Gun-Owning Households with Children: Results of a 2015 National Survey. See the results

  2. The Final Report And Findings Of The Safe School Initiative: Implications For The Prevention Of School Attacks In The United States. Authored by the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education. Read the report

  3. Self-inflicted and Unintentional Firearm Injuries Among Children and Adolescents. Read the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics

  4. Parental misperceptions about children and firearms. See the research findings

  5. Safe gun storage prevents child and teen deaths. Read the news from the American Academy of Pediatrics