For those who own firearms, safe storage is essential. You would not want your 3 year old to have access to matches and gasoline. You would not want a criminal to have access to your car keys. Guns are the same way. Proper storage techniqes (along with gun-safety training, and good gun-handling habits) can help avert a tragedy.
For many children and adults, guns are a matter of curiosity. They are unaware of (or even worse, unconcerned by) the inherant danger of firearms. They may act out scenes they've seen in movies or on TV. In this case, disaster is close at hand.
Criminals want to steal your guns. They are a symbol of power, and an easy way to victimize the un-armed. In a worse case scenario, a criminal may access your unsecured weapon and turn it on you or your family.
Step 1: Gun Safes
Gun safes come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. An inexpensive, yet functional handgun safe can be purchased for less than $50 (U.S.) A large, well-made, climate controlled rifle safe can cost several thousand dollars.
Step 2: Trigger Locks
Trigger locks are a handy and inexpensive way to disable a firearm if a safe is unavailable. There are many styles to fit most types of firearms. There are similar locking devices that keep the action of your weapon locked in the "open" position, thus rendering it inoperable. Remember, your gun may still be stolen with a trigger lock in place, but it will not be immediately useable. Most new firearms come with a trigger lock from the factory.
Step 3: A Few Inexpensive and Unusual Ways to Render a Firearm Temporarily Un-Fireable.
There are several ways that make a firearm temporarily un-usable. These are quick fixes and are not recommended as a long-term solution.
1) Take the bolt out and store seperately.
2) Take the cylinder out and store seperately.
3) Use a common padlock.
4) Disassemble gun, and lock in the trunk of 2 different cars.
Step 4: Final Cautions
First, always store your weapons and ammunition seperately. A weapon without a projectile is no more dangerous than a hammer or a cane.
Next, Check local, state and federal laws. Some areas require certain types of storage. (I actually know of a community, where it is an offense to carry an UNLOADED gun. The constable will stop and check you to make sure your gun is loaded!)
Lastly, If you choose to keep a loaded gun in the open, it is your responsibility to maintain control of it at all times. Many law abiding citizens (police officers, security personell, etc.) have left a gun on the nightstand, only to have it discovered by one of their childrens' untrained playmates. This is a tragedy in the making. Make sure this never happens to you!