Safe Storage of Firearms

Unsecured firearms in the home can result in suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings. Thousands of unsecured firearms are stolen in Texas each year and used in crimes. Safe storage education and strong child access prevention laws are critical to protecting families and communities. 


Under current state law, “secure” means to take steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent the access to a readily dischargeable firearm by a child, including but not limited to placing a firearm in a locked container or temporarily rendering the firearm inoperable by a trigger lock or other means. The law only applies to access to children under age 17.


There is no specific state law about how firearms and ammunition should be stored safely, except in the case of preventing access to children. 


There is a human cost to unsecured firearms. More than 4,000 Texans died by gun violence in 2021. More than half of those gun deaths are suicides, and suicides are completed with a firearm 58% of the time. Texas veterans die by suicide at a significantly higher rate than the general population, using firearms to complete suicide 78% of the time.


In 2021, there were at least 26 unintentional shootings by children in Texas, placing it among the five states with the highest number of such shootings that year. Thirteen of these shootings resulted in death.


Negligent storage can also lead to school shootings. In May 2018, the 17-year-old who killed 10 and injured 13 at Santa Fe High School used his father’s guns. The parents were not held liable because Texas’ safe storage law only applies to children under 17.




Education and the expansion of existing laws provide a way to address this issue. We recommend that Texas continue to expand and promote the Keep ‘Em Safe Texas public safety awareness campaign on safe firearm storage practices.

Enforce the implementation of Section 19 of HB3, which instructs school districts to send out information about safe firearm storage. (2023)

Additionally, we support Governor Abbott’s recommendations to strengthen the child access prevention law outlined in his 2018 School Safety Action Plan. Specifically:

  • Raise the penalty for child access to a 3rd-degree felony rather than a misdemeanor when access results in death or serious bodily injury. Governor Abbott’s report notes that the increased penalty has been shown to reduce firearm fatalities. 

  • Modify existing firearm storage law to include anyone under age 18. Governor Abbott’s report notes that the child-access prevention laws in 16 states, including Oklahoma, have this higher age threshold. 

  • Mandate that gun sellers demonstrate the use of a lock and offer to sell one during every firearm sale.


Finally, we must continue to educate parents and guardians of school-aged children of the importance of safe gun storage. Firearms should always be stored unloaded in a safe or locked container with ammunition stored elsewhere. 


April 2023