Unload and Lock your Firearms – Store Them Safely!

October 06, 2011

In many parts of Canada, especially rural areas, firearm ownership is relatively high. Firearms can be used for hunting, sport or for protection from wildlife.  No matter what a firearm is used for, taking all safety precautions can prevent fatalities and injuries.

If you have firearms in your home, or if your family members visit the homes of friends who do, make sure safe storage practices are in place.  “Keep your firearms unloaded and securely locked up when they are not in use,” advises Canada Safety Council president Jack Smith. “Firearms should be locked in a steel cabinet, safe or vault designed for that purpose. And keep the keys to your firearms and ammunition in a separate secure location.”

Dr. Alan Drummond, an emergency physician and coroner in the rural community of Perth, Ontario, has seen his share of injuries and deaths inflicted by rifles and shotguns.

Many gun-related deaths and injuries occur in the home environment and most are self-inflicted or connected with domestic problems. “These casualties have involved people who seemed quite normal, but an unsafely stored gun was readily available,” explains Dr. Drummond, who works with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians to address this issue. “Suicide, contrary to public opinion, is often an impulsive act. In the assaults and murders I have seen that have involved guns, many of the perpetrators have also acted on impulse.”

A great concern is the number of gun suicides in Canada, which outnumber firearm homicides.  Having firearms in a home environment adds to the risk, particularly if they are left out in the open.

Vera Pawis Tabobondung, President of the National Association of Friendship Centres, encourages people, young and old, to use firearms only as a means of providing for their family and community. “Respect your firearms and keep them securely locked up when they’re not in use.  Protect what is sacred to us all - life.”

Colette Bellavance, General Manager of the Saskatchewan Association for Firearm Education, agrees that safety measures must be followed at all times when dealing with firearms. "Always unload your firearm when it's not in use; never have a loaded firearm in a vehicle; and, when returning to a vehicle or camp after hunting, unload your firearm away from the vehicle or camp.  Remember, 80 per cent of all firearm accidents happen within 10 meters of the muzzle.  So always think safety first!”

Canada Safety Council has created a new public service announcement that focuses on the safe storage of firearms.  In addition, a safety poster and pamphlet containing common sense safety tips that could help save a life or prevent serious injury can be ordered by calling 613-739-1535, extension 221.

Firearm Safety Tips for the Home

Ensure firearms are unloaded at all times when stored.

Lock the firearms in a cabinet, safe or room that was built or modified specifically to store firearms safely.  Make sure the structure is difficult to break into.

Attach a secure locking device, such as a trigger lock or cable lock (or remove the bolt), so the gun or rifle cannot be fired.

Store ammunition separately and lock it up.  While ammunition can be stored in the same container as the firearm, it should be locked up separately.  Again, make sure it is difficult to break into.

Children must not have access to the keys used to lock up firearms and ammunition. Always keep the keys in a secure and safe place.

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For more information, please contact:

Emile Therien, Past President, Canada Safety Council         (613) 737-4965

Valerie Powell, Communications and Media Coordinator   (613) 739-1535 (ext. 228) valerie.powell@safety-council.org