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Hosting Friends and Family as A Responsible Gun Owner

Thanksgiving day is imminent, and Christmas is not far off. During the holidays, we often travel to or host family and friends in our own homes. What follows are some ideas designed to help you prepare for and host family and friends in your home from the angle of being a responsible gun owner.

family gathering

Physical Security

We are creatures of habit and routine, and when something disrupts that routine, we risk a lot of good habits and practices falling through the cracks.

For example, in my home, I lock all doors and windows all the time. If one of my family opens a door or window as soon as possible, they close and lock it. So, for example, even if we just let the dog into the backyard, we close and lock the door once the dog goes out.

Locking the door is part of closing the door. Unfortunately, when I have guests in the home, they likely don't have the same habit. Because I know my guests don't have a habit of locking the doors, I regularly check the doors and windows. I perform a thorough check right before bedtime when the home is most vulnerable to a break-in.

I also check outdoor lighting and consider if I need to trim any bushes. These are good practices regardless, so I make a point to do it before hosting any company. Generally, my visitors park in the driveway or on the street at night. So double-checking these things benefits everybody.

If you have good relationships with neighbors (I hope you do), it might also make sense to inform them that you expect company. That will eliminate concerns or tension if your neighbor sees random people coming and going from your house at odd hours.

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Establish / Communicate Security Protocols

When you have more people in your home, you need to update or establish your response plan and protocols. For example, you probably won't respond to a bump in the night like you usually would, knowing you have additional guests in the home.

In addition to your response plan needing adjustments, there may be some things you want to communicate to your guests.

For example, it may not make sense to brief them on their role in an emergency or run some drills upon their arrival. However, you certainly can discuss things such as:

  • that they shouldn't come and go after a particular hour of the night
  • should they need something after others are asleep, they should turn on specific lights in the home
  • do whatever else is required to help you identify them from if an intruder

If you have a security system, you may find it prudent to show your guests how to disengage and engage the alarm system and show them some of the other basics of operating the system.

Providing Secure Storage

When I travel (drive or fly), I generally bring a small gun safe with me that I can use to lock up my gun at night when I'm asleep. I talked about the importance of that in a Hotel in a different article, but even when I stay with family, I think it is responsible and respectful of the people hosting me that I lock up my gun at night. So I'm inclined to provide that option to people who stay in my home.

When you host guests in your home, especially those you know tend to be armed or travel with a firearm, you should consider offering secure firearm storage. For example, you can hand over a simple small safe to someone with some thoughts such as “here is a small safe you can use to lock up your gun at night.” Provide them with the combination, and if you strongly feel that you want their guns locked up, tell them so.

If you have a permanent guest room, you can also just make a small safe part of that room, and when new guests arrive, you can make the gun safe part of the overall introduction and orientation.

Evaluating Your Firearm Storage

I've done extensive research and provided my thoughts about firearm storage, emphasizing nightstand-related questions (see thoughts here). Whatever your routine is, you may want to make changes when you have guests, especially if those include children. You may choose not to secure firearms in your home typically because you have no children or because you feel your children are educated and trained.

Can you make those same assumptions about the guest children you've invited into your home? I don't think you should.

What other considerations have I missed? What are some of the different things you do when you have guests in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Consider our Complete Home Defense Course or the abridged Bump In The Night. These courses are designed to provide abundant information on how to employ strategies to keep your family safe in and around your home.

bump in the night home defense

*This post was originally published in 2018. It has been updated and republished.

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One Response to Hosting Friends and Family as A Responsible Gun Owner

  1. Sandi November 26, 2020 at 4:59 pm #

    When I have guests, I always brief them on what to do if they hear anything unusual going on outside their bedroom door. My home is one level and they are instructed to leave the door closed and exit the room through the window, and move away from the house. We will handle whatever is going on and we don’t need or want them stepping into the fray.

    We also give the same instructions if the fire alarm were to go off during the night.

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