How to store firearms and shotguns securely

Gun CabinetLaws covering the storage of firearms, shotguns and their ammunition are as strict as those covering their ownership, having been designed to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Making sure the storage of all kinds of firearms and shotguns is properly secure places strict requirements on their owners, as you’ll see in our guide to storage of firearms.

In summary, the Firearms Rules (1998) say weapons must be stored securely to prevent them being taken or used by ‘unauthorised people’, with a penalty of up to six months in prison for failure to comply.

An ‘unauthorised person’ is anyone without a gun licence or shotgun certificate, no matter how responsible and trustworthy they might otherwise appear to be. The rules do not specify precisely what ‘stored securely’ means, but here we can take advice from the Home Office, which recommends locked gun cabinets, gun safes or similar secure containers, and includes a gun room or cellar in its list of acceptable options.

When buying a gun cabinet, it’s important to be sure that it is up to the standards required by the relevant British Standard – BS7558:1992. If it is then acceptance by the Police is guaranteed, subject to meeting the requirements of the Firearms Act of 1968 and subsequent amendments.

Safe Insurance Explained

When buying safes you cannot base your choice on looks or price alone, at least not if you want your insurance company to cover you for losses due to theft, fire or flood damage to the safe and or its contents.

The manufacturers of quality cash safes will give Insurance or Cash Rating for each safe expressed in terms of the amount of cash an insurance underwriter considers you can safely store in the safe. The general rule is that the higher the cash rating the more secure the safe is from burglars and safecrackers. The Cash rating also usually defines the Valuables rating of the safe i.e. the equivalent value of non-cash valuables such as jewellery the safe can hold. This is almost universally agreed by insurers as 10 times the cash rating.

A safe certified to EN14450 is suitable for low risk applications up to a maximum of £4000 in cash and £40,000 in valuables and are a popular choice for home security. The European standard EN1143-1 covers everything above this security level and safes to this standard are often termed Euro or Eurograde cash safes. The “Grade” is expressed as a number from Grade 0 to Grade13 in ascending order of greater security. A grade 13 safe is effectively equivalent to a bank vault with a cash rating of £3.5 million.

Assigning cash ratings is usually based upon testing to the European Attack Test Standards and drop tests that are now widely recognised by the insurance industry and provide independent third party confirmation of the security level and durability of a safe. You do sometimes see equivalent American test standards quoted usually prefixed by UL and independent laboratory certifications such as NT or NordTest more often for fire and water resistance.

Certification to international standards is the starting point for choosing the right safe for your circumstances but be aware that different insurers may apply different risk assessment criteria due to other factors such as the location of the property and the presence of other security measures. It is always best to check with your insurer that your cover is adequate particularly if you are storing lots of cash or valuables.

Keep your guns under lock and key

The Safety Storage Centre

Whether you collect guns or use them for hunting, the safe storage of your prized possessions is really important.

If you have children, it’s imperative to keep these potentially dangerous weapons out the way. Indeed, there are few reasons not to get a gun cabinet to ensure your guns stay safe.

Gun storage doesn’t just keep your weapons out of sight and out of the hands of the wrong people, either, they can help protect them against the elements and damage, too.

Some storage offers flood and fire protection, which is great for peace of mind if the worst case scenario ever materialises.

Of course, most gun owners are very responsible and take every precaution to ensure their collection poses no danger to anyone. Adding a gun cabinet, or upgrading your existing one, is a great way to add extra security to your arrangements.

No matter whether you have collected handguns, rifles or shotguns, there are a range of cases that will keep your weapons safe.

With foam padding and rubber fixtures to stop guns getting scratched, lockable compartments and holders for rods and ammunition, and extra-secure bolts, locks and, even biometric entry systems, a gun cabinet is a very sound investment.

It’s important to get a cabinet which meets a strong security grade, and be sure of your space requirements if your weapons are fitted with scopes or silencers. Guns get a bad press when they get misused: all the more reason to make extra sure yours are safe.

Information brought to you by the Safety Storage Centre, providers of safe storage solutions for the workplace and home

Transporting Firearms

I have previously provided a summary of the current secure storage requirement needed for general storage of firearms and ammunition in the home. Of course most gun owners will at some point need to transport their firearm to a shoot or gun club.  When transporting in a vehicle or on public transport you must exercise a duty of care to ensure the firearm, ammunition or shotgun is kept safe. By taking the following precautions you can demonstrate to the Firearms Officer that you meet this duty of care.

Shotgun Storage Safes and CabinetsKeep your shotgun in an appropriate case or cover whilst transporting it and place it out of sight, preferably in the locked boot or other secure load carrying area of the vehicle. You should never transport a loaded shotgun and the ammunition should ideally be stored separately again in a locked compartment hidden from plain sight.

Vehicles used frequently, particularly those used for transporting large numbers of firearms, should preferably be fitted with an immobiliser and /or alarm with provision for securing the shotgun to the structure of the vehicle in a purpose made security case or attached to the frame by a steel clamp.

If you leave your firearm in an unattended vehicle for any reason remove the firing mechanism or other vital part of the firearm such as the fore-end of a shotgun and keep it on your person. It is important when taking a shotgun to a location that involves an overnight stay that you ensure in advance that the premises has secure storage facilities. Leaving your firearm in the care of a hotel or friends house, even in a safe will expose them to a charge of unlawful possession unless they are also certificate holders.

The above safety recommendations apply equally to the transportation of Section 1 firearms. Section 1 firearms include rifles, any shotgun with a barrel shorter than 24″ or a semi-auto or pump-action gun and any shotgun with a detachable magazine. Air rifles which exceed the 12ft/lb power output limit are also considered ‘Section 1’ firearms.  Although there is no specific security requirement for air weapons owners are advised to store them securely so that they may not be stolen or misused by another person so generally you are advised to make no real distinction between air rifles and more powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all considered firearms.

You can transport a gun on public transport provided that it is held in a secure gun case or slip cover, is unloaded and the firing mechanism is removed and held separately so the gun cannot be fired. The firearm should remain with the certificate holder at all times other than when transporting by plane although another shotgun certificate holder may transport or borrow your shotgun without entering it onto their certificate, providing they are in possession of the gun for less than 72 hours. If they are in possession for longer the gun must be entered onto their certificate and the local firearms licensing officer informed.

Of course none of the above applies to handguns, loosely defined as any firearm with an overall length of less than 30 cm, as ownership is against the law in England other than under exceptional circumstances.