The Status and Styles of Secure Storage Gun Laws

Last week Governor McKee of Rhode Island signed into law an update to the state's secure storage gun law. Also this year Colorado updated their secure storage law to extend it to vehicles in addition to one's dwelling or home.

The Different Flavors of Secure Storage Laws

I've been researching and reading all the laws in all the states that have some sort of legislation requiring the secure storage of a firearm and have found there are 3 unique flavors of these laws.

Before we dive in please note that at the bottom of this article is a link to our resource where we track these laws for all 50 states so you can quickly reference that information.

Type 1: Consequences

The first type of legislation is what I call a Consequence law. There are 16 states as of this writing with this kind of secure storage law and the rough idea is to impose criminal consequences if one fails to secure their firearm and that leads to a minor gaining unauthorized access.

Put differently, there is nothing illegal about doing whatever one wants with their guns in their home so long as minors don't do anything naughty. If a child never touches the gun or at least doesn't access it without permission then it doesn't matter if the guns are secured or not in the home.

Different states define minors differently for the purpose of this law. For example, in Wisconsin, this law only applies to those under 14 years of age whereas in another state it might apply to anyone under 18.

Type 2: Minor Access Without Permission

The rough second type of secure storage law is what I like to refer to as “Access W/O Permission.”

The idea here is that there are legal consequences if you leave a gun unsecured ONLY when you know or reasonably should know that a juvenile can gain access to the gun without the permission of their parent or guardian OR when a resident of the dwelling is ineligible to possess a firearm.

So put differently, in states with a Type 2 Secure Storage Law, if you don't have minors in your home or felons restricted from possessing guns and don't plan to have either over in the near future you can do what you want.

However, if you do have kids in your home then you either need to grant the kids permission to access the guns or secure them against potential access or keep them in your immediate control.

If you have ineligible people in the home then the guns must be secured or in your immediate control.

Type 3: All Times

Then we have the worst style of Secure Storage Law. What I describe as the “All Times” law.

With this kind of law all guns are at all times required to either be in the immediate control of a the owner or another authorized responsible adult OR secured and stored such that unauthorized people can't access the firearm.

This is less common with only 5 states as of this writing having this style of law but I'm sorry to say for Rhode Island gun owners that you are now one of those 5 states.

Be Responsible

We absolutely should want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and unauthorized individuals. That is part of responsible gun ownership. However, I support the freedom that comes with letting gun owners decide for themselves how they can achieve that. I appreciate that some of the laws on the books still provide that flexibility.

I cannot however in any way get on board with a law that regulates gun ownership to the point that allows law enforcement to inspect gun owner's homes and force them to secure guns to the degree that the freedom to choose is removed.

Of course, I don't want guns in sock drawers to be found by kids and used for criminal actions or to commit suicide. However, my experience suggests that irresponsible gun owners who keep guns in sock drawers are probably not the type to change their storage strategy based on these laws. Criminals are going to commit crimes.

Does Your State Have Such A Law?

Click here to visit our legal reference page for all 50 states and secure storage laws.

Remember we maintain a large library of gun laws. You can click “law” in our menu above or direct your browser to “ConcealedCarry.com/laws” at any time to browse our full gun law reference library.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of ConcealedCarry.com. ConcealedCarry.com provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.

2 Comments

  1. Dirk Kretschman on June 25, 2024 at 8:53 am

    A firearm should always, always be in your pocket or on your hip etc. Also, an unloaded gun is just a funny shaped rock, a gun locked up is an imaginary gun. If you can’t have your front sight on target in two seconds or less, in the house, in the car or on the street, well you can see what I mean.

    • Roger Maslon Sr. on July 2, 2024 at 8:23 pm

      Exactly. At home, specially with minors around, since it serves no purpose to have the weapon locked away, the only safe and logical place for it is on its owner’s person.

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