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Safe Gun Storage: Inoperability vs. Inaccessibility

As part of a new safety initiative, the Wake County Board of Education recently passed a resolution to promote safe firearm storage. This resolution will be supported by ongoing efforts by the district to help inform, educate and promote responsible firearm ownership by safely storing firearms. 


One strategy in promoting safe storage is to educate our community on why it is so important to safety, and the difference between inoperable firearms and inaccessible firearms.


The resolution passed by the WCPSS Board of Education does not speak to the actual ownership of firearms and is not intended to address the larger political debate on gun control. Rather, it seeks only to promote the safe storage of guns. Since the sale of firearms to minors is illegal in North Carolina, one of the main ways firearms fall into the hands of young people is through theft and the discovery of unsecured firearms in the home. Local law enforcement officers spoke to this fact during the passage of the WCPSS Board’s resolution. 


Prevention is key. If firearms are stored securely so that young people can not gain access to them, it will reduce the number of both intentional and accidental shootings by children. There are two fundamental ways that guns can be secured from unauthorized access:



The first is to render the firearm inoperable. A gun that has been made inoperable means that while you can still pick up the weapon, it is not able to be fired. The most common way to render a firearm inoperable is through the use of a trigger lock or locking cable.



The second and more secure way a firearm can be stored is to make it inaccessible. A firearm that has been rendered inaccessible has been stored in a way that one can not come into contact with it.


One way to make a weapon inaccessible is to store it in a safe. The safe doesn’t have to be a firearm specific, only prevent someone from gaining access to it. For added protection, the safe can be mounted so that it can’t be removed from its location. Helpful features include visual and audible indicators that unauthorized access has been attempted.


No matter which option you choose, making firearms inoperable or inaccessible will greatly reduce the chances of a gun falling into the hands of a child, where it could cause serious harm. WCPSS fully supports safe gun storage and will continue to educate staff, students and parents in its practice. If you have any questions on how to safely store firearms or obtain safe storage devices, visit our Safe Gun Storage Resources page or contact your local law enforcement agency.