Having a gun safe is an integral part of responsible gun ownership since it ensures safekeeping of firearms and guarantees their authorised possession only.
When it comes to owning a gun in the UK, there are a few rules and regulations that you must follow in order to get (and keep) a gun license.
Although gun safes and cabinets are not mandated by law, all gun owners in the country have a legal obligation to store their firearms and ammunition securely and away from unauthorised access.
To get a gun license, you need to show that you have the necessary storage for your firearms, which the police will come to inspect. In case of inadequate and unsafe gun storage, you are most likely to not get a gun license at all.
That being said, the best, easiest, and most convenient way to store your firearms and ammunition is in a gun safe or cabinet, especially one that has been approved by the police.
Read on to find out what police approved gun safes are, the laws when it comes to gun safety, the additional security measures you can take to keep your guns secure, and much more:
UK LAW AND GUN STORAGE
Gun safes, also referred to as gun cabinets, are special storage devices used to keep firearms and ammunition safe and protected from unauthorised use and access.
Under the UK Firearms Rules, all firearms and shotguns must be kept safe and secure. It is considered an offence to not comply with these conditions, which is punishable by a fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both.
Although there are no definitive rules on how to keep your firearms secure, the Home Office has issued a few guidelines for firearm owners to follow that mostly recommend you to store them in a locked gun safe or cabinet, or a similar lockable box.
There are several types of gun safes available in the market varying in size and security features. Depending on your needs, you may opt for one that has room to store a single gun or one made to keep multiple guns at a time.
Although no law requires you to have a gun safe per se, it does require you to take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your guns, and what better way to store them than in a police-approved gun safe?
POLICE APPROVED GUN SAFES
Police approved gun safes are, simply put, gun safes that have passed the police inspection during their visit to your property to check your gun storage provision.
When carrying out these inspections, the police will take into account the circumstances of each individual case and their overall security arrangements, including the security of the area where the firearms will be kept.
To better understand the varying security levels and requirements of different gun owners, it may be helpful to think of them in terms of levels – level 1, level 2, and level 3.
Level 1 refers to the possession of a single firearm, a low crime rate area, and additional security in the form of suitable locking devices on the outer doors and windows of the property, in which case, a suitable gun cabinet or gun clamp may suffice.
Moving on to level 2, this refers to situations where extra security may be required because of multiple firearms, a high crime rate area, and repeat victimisation. Additional security would be an audible intruder alarm covering the area where the firearms are stored, doors fitted with locks that comply with BS3621, and the provision of more than one gun cabinet to minimise the risk.
Level 3 refers to the highest risk and where a large number of guns and ammunition are involved. Additional security may include reinforcing the gun cabinets and using an audible intruder alarm to secure the entire property.
In the end, whether or not a storage system will be approved by the police comes down to several different factors including:
- The area the property is located in
- The prevailing crime rates
- The construction of the property
- The lighting conditions
- The overall security of the building
- The area inside the property where the guns are to be stored
Many police forces are of the idea that all guns must be kept in secure gun safes and cabinets, ideally those that meet the latest BS7558 standards set out by UK law.
BRITISH STANDARD FOR GUN SAFES: BS7558
The British Standard for gun safes and cabinets is BS7558, and although there is no legal obligation to use gun storage that meets these standards, they may be taken into consideration by your local police force when approving or disapproving your storage provision.
Following are the recommended features of a BS7558 gun cabinet:
- Made with a steel sheet that must be at least 2mm thick.
- The cabinet body must be formed by bend construction or all the seams must be continuously welded.
- All the hinges must be on the inside of the gun cabinet. However, if they are located outside of it or are exposed, they must be secured with hinge bolts, blocks, or anti-lever bars.
- The locking mechanisms must be placed inside the cabinet and should contain at least 5 levers as per BS3621. They should also be reinforced with high-quality hardened padlocks and staples.
- Gun cabinets that are full-length and side-hinged should be fitted with two locks – one at one-third the height of the cabinet and the other at two-thirds.
- It must have a separate or attached lockable container for storing ammunition. Ammunition must always be stored separately from the guns, either in a separate container or a special area inside the gun cabinet.
WHERE TO KEEP GUN SAFES AND CABINETS?
In addition to investing in the right gun safes that are approved by the police, you must follow a few suggestions to place them in the best possible location to keep your firearms safe and away from the wrong hands:
- All gun safes and cabinets must be securely fixed in place, either on a brick or concrete wall or the floor, to prevent them from being moved and stolen.
- They must not be installed in an area that has direct access to the outside of the building such as sheds, garages, or outbuildings (there may be some exceptions).
- They must be placed out of sight since it would make it more difficult for a thief to find and attack them, unless the safe is kept for display purposes.
- When installing large and heavy safes, you must keep in mind the load-bearing strength of your floor.
- Avoid installing the safes near heat sources.
In addition to these guidelines, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind such as not installing the gun safes or cabinets in rooms that are subjected to variations in temperature and humidity since they may damage the firearms.
To protect them from any kind of damage, it is best to keep your gun safe in a warm and dry room that is a part of the main property.
WHERE TO STORE THE KEYS?
Keeping the keys to your gun cabinet safe is just as important as investing in a police-approved storage container for your firearms. It is a condition of the UK firearms licensing, breaching which is considered a criminal offence.
According to the current guidelines:
- Only the certificate/license holder must have access to the keys.
- No unauthorised individual must be given access to the safe.
- No unauthorised individual must know the location of the keys.
- The keys must be kept with the safe owner or locked in an appropriate key safe.
Although used for centuries, traditional keys are not the safest locking mechanism since there is always the risk of the keys being lost or stolen.
There are several more secure alternatives to physical keys such as combination locks, electronic locks, biometric locks, and dual locks, all of which eliminate the need for keys and the issue of losing them.
Combination locks, also known as mechanical locks, have a numbered dial to spin and input the right sequence, where only individuals with the right code can access the safe’s contents.
Electronic locks usually feature a keypad or an electronic touchscreen for quick and easy access. Not only are they a common choice but also a good and safe one, especially for properties with more than one individual needing access to the firearms.
Biometric locks are one of the most technologically advanced safe locking mechanisms that use unique identifiers such as fingerprints to unlock the safe and access its contents.
They are highly reliable and offer the maximum level of security that cannot be compromised by unwanted individuals.
Dual locks are a combination of two locks, usually keypads and biometrics, and are a good option for users looking for a high level of security since they require two forms of authentication to open the safe.
ALTERNATIVES TO GUN SAFES AND CABINETS
Gun safes and cabinets are not the only two methods of secure storage for guns that the law considers. There are several other alternatives such as gun clamps and steel cables.
Although for most situations, a gun safe or cabinet is the best option, you may consider these alternatives in certain circumstances.
- Gun clamps
You may opt for gun clamps as an alternative to a gun cabinet if you have one firearm. It must, however, meet a few requirements.
It should be made out of steel that is at least 2mm thick, it must have a seam-welded joint or must be made by bend construction, and it must have a lock that meets the BS3621.
- Steel cables
Steel cables are high-tensile cables that are secured with a hardened padlock and may be an appropriate security method for your guns in certain conditions.
For extra security, you may use devices such as barrel blocks and trigger guards. However, they may not be used as an alternative for the above.
ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES
In addition to investing in the best gun safes and making sure they are placed in the most ideal locations so that they stay protected from unauthorised access, there are a few additional security measures that you can take such as:
- Installing an audible intruder alarm
Intruder alarms work using a series of sensors and can be placed near the gun safe or cabinet to pick up on any unusual activity and sound a loud alarm, sometimes also accompanied by flashing lights, to attract attention towards the intruders and scare them away.
The best type of sensors for your property may be chosen depending on the area of installation and the type of intrusion that needs to be detected.
For gun safe security, you may use passive infra-red (PIR) sensors that are designed to detect the movement of heat energy and work to constantly check for differences in the thermal levels in the area.
There are three different types of burglar alarms that you can choose from: bells-only, dialler systems, and monitored burglar alarms.
Simple bells-only burglar alarms make a loud noise and depend on someone nearby to respond to them, dialler alarms contact the homeowners and other nominated individuals in the event of an alarm trigger, and monitored burglar alarms are professionally monitored and the relevant authorities are notified by trained individuals at the Alarm Receiving Centre after having the alarm verified.
You may also invest in smart burglar alarms that integrate with other smart home devices and send push notifications to your phone whenever an intrusion is detected.
- Installing CCTV cameras
CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) cameras are one of the most effective security systems available in the market today that not only deter criminals but also help with getting justice if you have been wronged.
They allow you to keep an eye on your property in real-time as well as in the form of recorded footage to be viewed later, and it is a great idea to use them to keep a check on your gun safes at all times.
With features such as motion detection, mobile notifications, remote monitoring, night vision, and two-way communication, you can amp up your security even more and make sure that no unauthorised individuals try to gain access to your gun safe and its contents.
In the case of your gun safe being tampered with, attacked, or your guns being stolen, you may use the recorded CCTV footage to identify the criminals and use it as proof in the court of law.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
We are members of the Master Locksmith Association (MLA) and are familiar with a wide range of safes, cash boxes, and strong boxes. Our SSAIB contractors can help you assess your security needs and recommend a suitable safe perfect for your requirements.
We offer professional safe installation services to not only prevent theft and fire damage but also ensure that the safe is secured in place properly, cannot be removed, and is not in danger of falling or damaging anything.
We also offer safe opening services since misplacing the keys, forgetting the code, or failure of the safe itself can all lead to the contents of the safe being inaccessible.
By design, of course, safes are very difficult to access in these circumstances and you need a professional safe engineer to do it for you. Our Calder specialists can open most safes and can restore them to full working order afterwards.
When you need to relocate or remove your safe entirely, you can count on us to carry out the job with ease. In addition to that, our professional safe repair and maintenance services ensure that your safes are always in optimal health providing you with the best security.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 to talk to our security professionals right away for the best police approved gun safes!