How secure storage of guns makes children and families safer

Toddler peeking through furniture

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Secure storage is an effective way to prevent tragedy and save lives, particularly children. Wondering how it works? We sat down with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Barden, to answer common questions about this important way to protect families and communities.

Imagine your child goes to their friend’s house for the day. You know the parents well and have never had safety concerns. But what you didn’t know was that they keep their guns unlocked in a shoebox, readily accessible to a curious child. What happens next could be heartbreaking. 1

Now imagine you receive news that a loved one was shot and killed in an armed robbery. The investigation reveals the gun used was stolen from a gun owner who failed to securely store it.

These realities are far too frequent, but secure storage can make a difference. It can prevent children from getting their hands on guns, leading to fewer accidents, suicides, and school shootings. Secure storage can also prevent guns from being stolen. Guns that are stolen are commonly used in crimes such as robberies, murders, and other forms of gun violence. 2

What does it mean to securely store my gun?

A securely stored gun is stored in a way that ensures children (and others who shouldn’t have access) aren’t able to get their hands on it. Even unloaded guns should be securely stored. Sandy Hook Promise’s secure storage legislation would require guns to be:

  • Placed in a secure storage device, meaning a gun must be stored in a locked container that can only be unlocked with a special key, combination, identification tool, or something similar (examples of a secure storage device include a case, safe, locker, or lock box); or
  • Stored out of sight with a locking device on it, which can only be unlocked with a special key, combination, identification tool, or by other similar means (examples of locking devices include a trigger lock or cable lock).

How would secure storage legislation protect and help my family and my kids?

Sandy Hook Promise is best known for preventing violence and getting people help when they need it most. Secure storage of guns is a strong prevention tool, but more can be done. That’s why our bill would:

  • Provide families impacted by child-involved shootings with free secure storage and locking devices, to prevent additional tragedies in those homes.
  • Connect these impacted families to free or affordable mental health services. This would help them work through the trauma caused by a shooting.
  • Provide a tax credit to those who buy secure storage and locking devices.
  • Establish a state-wide campaign focused on why and how to securely store guns.
  • Make free secure storage or locking devices available whenever a gun is bought from licensed gun dealers.

Why does Sandy Hook Promise care about secure storage?

We are committed to keeping children safe in schools, homes, and communities. Secure storage would do just that, as it would prevent kids from accessing guns and prevent guns from being stolen.

Isn’t this really about personal responsibility?

While many gun owners teach their kids to avoid handling guns and others teach them when it’s okay to handle them (and how), this isn’t enough.

One study found that even when young children were enrolled in a week-long gun safety program, they played with guns at the same rate as children who did not participate in the program. 3 This highlights the need to securely store guns at all times.

Do states really have that much gun violence?

Gun violence affects people in every state, including youth. In 2019, the U.S. saw 993 gun deaths and 2,826 gun injuries among people age 17 or younger. This increased to 1,381 gun deaths and 3,770 gun injuries in 2020, and 1,554 gun deaths and 4,127 gun injuries in 2021. 4

Let’s look at Ohio as an example where secure storage legislation would be helpful:

While data varies from state to state, we can look at Ohio to better understand the need for a secure storage solution. In 2021, one Columbus, Ohio hospital saw a 74% increase in patients with gunshot wounds compared to two years prior. One of the Level 1 trauma centers in Columbus reported in September 2021 that it’s seeing the highest volume of gunshot wound victims in the hospital’s history. 5, 6 By preventing the wrong person from getting their hands on a gun, secure storage could reduce the overall number of gunshot victims in Ohio hospitals.

Would the legislation list penalties for leaving a gun unsecured?

Our secure storage bill would not list any specific criminal offenses or penalties. Instead, it would require prosecutors to consider a gun owner’s liability whenever their gun is used by someone who shouldn’t have had access to it. After reviewing, prosecutors would use their expertise to decide what, if anything, comes next.

Will “secure storage” prevent quick access in a moment of need?

No, secure storage doesn’t prevent quick access. Many affordable gun safes, for example, prevent the wrong people from getting guns while also allowing gun owners to obtain their guns quickly. To increase speed, law enforcement recommends regular practice accessing secured guns.

When it comes to secure storage, what’s the bottom line?

Secure storage saves lives. It prevents children and others from accessing guns that could make them the victim or shooter in a gun incident. By helping prevent child access and stolen guns, secure storage can reduce child-involved shootings, suicides, gun crimes, and other forms of gun violence. This all makes your community and household safer.

Take Action

Learn more about our work to make secure storage a reality in Ohio.


  1. Cox, J. W. (2021, September 27). Two kids, a loaded gun and the man who left a 4-year-old to die. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from
  2. Shoaf, L. C. (n.d.). Gun Violence – Ohio Data. OCJS. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from
  3. Hardy MS. Teaching firearm safety to children: failure of a program. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2002 Apr;23(2):71-6. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200204000-00002. PMID: 11943968.
  4. Past Summary Ledgers – 2019, 2020, 2021. Gun Violence Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2022, from
  5. Lagatta, E. (2021, September 21). Columbus’ Two level I trauma centers see surge in gunshot wound patients. The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from
  6. Moberger, A. (2021, September 20). Number of gunshot wound victims being admitted, most Grant Medical Center has seen. WSYX. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from