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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But there might be another way.

This one involves a palate and menu that’s varied. This is not an epicurean palate, but a palette of other senses, with a focus on common sense. This palette involves the eyes, and the mind, as well as values and standards.

It’s the palette of guns: from ARs to pistols to precision rifles, guns come in all shapes and sizes. However, regardless of the gun, we need to put it somewhere—somewhere safe.

Our individual recipe for what is safe can vary from gun to gun and house to house.

What’s on every household’s plate varies. Similarly, how you incorporate guns into everyday life will vary, too. There is no “one-size-fits-all” rule to how guns are part of your home.

Forget Your Upbringing

Just as different families have different cooking and cleaning habits, gun habits are also varied, and understanding this is very important. Because while your dad might have locked every gun in the safe because he had a neighborhood of kids wandering through his house, my dad didn’t have to do that. So, I wasn’t raised like that.

My lifestyle today reflects that upbringing. Everyone in my family is a competitive shooter—my husband, three kids and myself. We are always practicing for a competition, and dry-firing is much easier when you have a gun. So, in my house, there is literally a gun on the couch at any given moment that my husband and/or I am home.

If your daily life involves using firearms (from hunting and competition to those who work in law enforcement), you might need to accept that you are going to have different standards and rules for how and where guns fit in your home.

My kids aren’t little anymore, and I don’t have random neighbor kids coming into my space. I have kids highly trained in firearms handling from some of the world’s best shooters and who are very capable with firearms.

I don’t talk about this openly for the most part, because people tend to be judgmental. Nevertheless, my shooting friends—the ones who know we’re training for a world shoot—get it.

Conversely, I have a gunsmith friend who doesn’t even bring guns into his house: He has neighbor kids constantly coming and going, so it’s not a good plan for him.

So, to open yourself to a wider palette of gun ownership styles, you really need to be open to understanding that there is no single right way. You need to see if your gun “manners” fit your gun use.

Just as different families have different cooking and cleaning habits, gun habits are also varied, and understanding this is very important.

The Basics: Safety

Before I continue, I want to clarify basic safety principles that all gun owners should be adhering to.

  • When handling firearms for practice—dry-fire, mag changes, drawing from a holster, etc.—ammunition should never be in that room or vicinity of the house.
  • Always follow the same rules as you do when handling a loaded firearm:
  • Always check if the gun is loaded.
  • Never point at anything you don’t want to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Know your target and beyond.
  • Lock up all firearms when you’re not home.

Legal-speak will tell you that everyone must always lock up every firearm; but in reality, we know this isn’t the way many gun owners actually handle their firearms. They have latitude for what suits their circumstance. The overarching considerations that guide them are safety and common sense. For instance, a military person living alone could put their firearm in a dresser drawer or nightstand without worries. But once kids or other people enter the mix, there’s a need to reassess.

We should understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gun storage and use. I might have competition guns that leave the house every time I leave and are used often. Even so, when I leave my house, everything else is in a safe.

Some guns have a role in our lives, and we use them as part of our daily routines.

Safe Queens and Speed Queens 

Now that you are thinking about what you are told to do with gun storage versus what you actually do, think about the roles different guns play.

We all own guns that are the “washing machines” of guns (that is, we use them as part of our daily routine). We also have guns that are for going fast, going accurate and “just-because-we-can-have-them” guns. And living with those guns means different habits for each one.

My competition pistol is either being shot or is close at hand for practice. It’s not a “safe queen,” even if it is from the beautiful STI DVC line. We also have a .22 handy at all times for the vermin that are constantly chewing on our barn.

The general population of gun owners has been so ingrained with the idea that you must immediately lock every gun in a safe … they don’t talk about what actually happens with their guns for everyday storage.

Every gun has a different use, and every household has a different character to add to the mix. A home in the suburbs or small town might view gun storage differently than a farmhouse in a rural area. You have to find the right way to store and secure your mix.

While it’s not politics or religion, gun storage is a topic among shooters that is often taboo. People are afraid to “come out of the closet about it,” fearing that if they speak frankly about where they keep their guns, they will portray gun owners as “unsafe.”

The general population of gun owners has been so ingrained with the idea that you must immediately lock every gun in a safe, especially if there are children in your house, that they don’t talk about what actually happens with their guns for everyday storage.

When the topic comes up, some shooters ascribe to the, “don’t ask, don’t tell” or “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. These people don’t want to tell you what they do with their guns; it’s not information they want made public … which is fine. It’s their choice.

Some shooters tout the party line: If it’s not on your immediate person, all guns should be under lock and key. There is a lot of that “party line” thought in the firearms industry due to the liability factor and for fear of backlash from nongun people.

It makes some people very skittish about deviating from the party line, so they just recite the line and keep private about what they really do at home. Others live openly with their guns; firearms are part of their life, like a pet.

Gun ownership involves responsibility, thinking for yourself and, just like good manners with eating, gun manners start in the home with a good understanding of what your family needs.

Guns = Joy + Freedom

Put the joy back into gun ownership by being realistic. No single recipe fits every household. No one method is right for everybody.

No matter how you choose to store your guns, don’t let the joy you find in firearms be locked away, too. Shoot your guns proudly and don’t hide who you are. Bring your house over to the black rifle-loving, guns-over-the-mantle, proud-of-your-heritage side of America, and secure your guns—as well as your rights to use and own them by not hiding them. Help educate future generations about responsible gun-handling by making guns part of everyday life.

Women have a unique role in making this happen: They are the ones who tend to monitor the kids, set up the layout of a house and establish good household habits. Many men won’t buy guns or allow the kids to take part in shooting without their wives’ approval. Don’t let your kids grow up ignorant of the joy of guns, even if guns aren’t your favorite thing. Don’t let them grow up uneducated about safe firearms handling, and don’t let them think guns are some secret thing we shouldn’t talk about.

The woman’s role in running a household puts a good portion of the responsibility on her to safely incorporate firearms into her home. Understanding that guns are tools and creating access to them are as reasonable as knowing where and how your washing machine runs.

Make your home a place full of the joyful noise of firearms, or at least decorate with ‘gunmetal chic.” By that, I literally mean gunmetal—where it needs to be and when you need it. You’re free to do that, and freedom is really what guns are about!

Bringing this back around, the other way to a man’s heart … is through guns. Understanding what it means to live with them in your house and making them a part of your life is a recipe for happiness. The recipe is pretty simple:

  • 1 part guns
  • 4 parts safety
  • 1 part understanding
  • Add ammo; season with your own taste
  • Let it simmer under the watchful eyes of a woman.

The results will make you happy!


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.