Firearms in the home necessitate a higher degree of order and care than, say, books or baseball gear, but I’ve seen too many gun related organizational missteps. If you are going to exercise the second amendment right to own firearms, apply some orderly thinking to their storage.

While cleaning out a linen closet in a 19th century house, I found a suspiciously heavy box of ancient Kleenex under a pile of sheets. My first thought was, “Jewels!” But no, it contained a lead-heavy old pistol.

Don’t hide guns. If you don’t need access to a gun for personal safety, store it in a safe or locked drawer and be sure that keys or combinations are not available to children or intruders. It should go without saying that gun owners must be responsible for educating themselves and others in the household about gun safety. As with many topics, education trumps secrecy.

On another occasion I was working with a client to organize her bedroom. There were three old shotguns standing in one corner. “Guns in the bedroom are seriously bad feng shui for your love life,” I deadpanned. We cracked up for about ten minutes before finding a spot them in a garage cabinet.

For a single pistol kept for self-defense, look into a biometric single-gun safe with ammo storage. Obviously, when in a stressful situation dialing or punching in a combination to grab a gun is not going to be effective. If you’re going to own a gun, for goodness sake, have a plan.
Most of us can barely dial 9-1-1 when stressed. Biometric locks open with an individual fingerprint. Trigger locks are distant second to biometric safes—according to the site The Well-Armed Woman ( exterior locks can be tampered with (by children or thieves) and safes are the best bet.

Maintenance of our stuff is a common theme in this column and guns are no exception. Attention must be given regularly to the condition of a gun, its care and cleaning. For more information visit sites such as Guns and Ammo (, Survivopedia ( and the National Rifle Association (

If you are a hunter and have more than a few guns, you’ve probably already invested in a gun safe. I won ours at a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle. Over the last 20 years I think it still ranks in my husband’s top five Angela contributions to the homestead.

Keep a gun safe combination in at least two places, one physical and one digital. A good idea is to note the combination on the manual itself (manufacturers sometimes print the combination on a label affixed to the manual). Store the manual in a “Firearms” or “Manuals” file.

The second place to store the combination is in a contacts or passwords list, either on your computer or phone (there are also apps to store passwords on your phone, such as Dashlane and Last Pass). Be sure the phone or computer is password protected and store the gun safe combination under a name only you would recognize like “Bob Winchester” or “Clint Eastwood.” It should be something clever, but not so clever that you can’t remember it.

If you lose your gun safe combination, like one of my clients did, you will have to go through a time-consuming process and bear significant costs to have your ownership of the safe vetted and the lock drilled and replaced.

Some guns require special permits that should also go into a file system so that they are easily retrievable. You can also keep important gun-related and other documents in a gun safe, since they are at least fire resistant if not fireproof.
Storing guns properly is a safety issue; the decluttering aspect is a nice by-product of responsible gun ownership. Too often guns don’t make it back into the safe and are set on top or nearby either because the opening mechanism is frustrating or the safe is too crowded inside.

Spin-dial combinations are tedious to manage, which creates resistance to putting guns away. I recommend the punch in key pad combination style.

Get a safe at least 20% bigger than what you think you need; as with books, papers, clothing and other categories, always give yourself a nice storage cushion in case you add to your collection. It will help decrease the resistance to putting a gun away if the safe isn’t overcrowded. Also, some extra room in a good safe is a fabulous place to store your jewels!