According to the U.S. Naval Safety Center, as reported by Medline Plus, teenagers and children cause more than half of accidental shootings. That is likely because in nearly half of all households that contain firearms and children the firearms are not kept safely locked. It is possible to keep guns safely in a home with children. However, it takes due diligence on the part of gun owners to keep their children and visiting children safe.
Many firearms have built-in "safeties," but these are not enough to keep a child from firing them. Built-in gun "safeties" are typically levers or push buttons that are easily activated by a curious child. They are not much different from some of the fine motor skills developing toys that adults give their children. Once that small switch is moved to the off position, it is a simple matter of pulling the trigger on a loaded gun. These safeties are made to disable a firearm so it can be carried without accidentally discharging when caught on clothing, etc. They are generally not considered child safeties.
A fully functional trigger lock disables a variety of firearms from shotguns, handguns and rifles. These devices, when used and locked properly, should prevent any finger access to the trigger, thus preventing discharge of the weapon by curious children. A proper trigger locking device would have a combination or key locking system, thus rendering it impossible for a child without access to the key or combination to fire the weapon. Trigger locks can work in and of themselves, but it is pertinent to check local law and to keep the weapon and means of access to the weapon out of reach of children.
Gun lock boxes range from any box that locks to boxes that are designed to store a specific firearm. In many areas, this is considered the only safe way to store a firearm. However, the ability of a lock box to prevent access by a child is determined by the strength of the box, the strength of the lock and proper use of the lock box. Some of these boxes are extremely heavy safes that are fireproof and tamper-proof so a teen cannot move the box to access later. A properly utilized gun safe may be the safest way to store firearms in homes with children. Now, there are some concerns about lockboxes and safes when it comes to home protection. Those who use their firearms for home protection purposes can find fingerprint scan lock boxes for quick, easy and secure access. If necessary, time how fast it takes to get to the firearm and unlock it to ensure it can still serve its purpose.
No trigger lock, gun safe or lock box is safe if the key is in the lock. Every home with firearms and children must have a storage plan for the key and keep any combination codes a secret among the adults of the home. That means not writing down combination codes and keeping keys out of reach, but accessible in cases of firearms for home protection. The same goes for ammunition. If the gun is locked properly, it should not be a problem. However, if gun storage laws are lax and a family decides to have firearms out, storing ammunition away from the weapons and ensuring they are not loaded can help.
Gun safety laws are different in every state. Check with local police departments regarding local gun safety law and follow all rules regarding gun safety in your area. Laws are not as stringent in some areas as in others, so it is good to use the best sense when storing guns. It may be prudent to go above and beyond what local laws require.