Determine Your Risk and Desired Protection

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Evaluate the Risks to Your Guns

Before you spend money on a gun safe or other protection for your guns, it’s a good idea to evaluate what your risks actually are. Maybe you don’t need a gun safe at all.

Or, maybe you were really worried about fires when you should be worried about floods instead.

What kind of burglary risk do you have?

  • How many Home Burglary Risk Factors do you have from the previous article?
  • How much crime do you have in your community? Websites have been developed to show you crime “heat” maps and specific crimes on a map to evaluate how much crime there is in your local area.  Click on the image to see a bigger screen shot, or the link below to go to the website.

  • How likely is it that a career thief might specifically target your guns?
    • Do you have any non-typical weapons or accessories that attract attention at the range like NFA weapons, suppressors, or high-end rifles?
    • What kind of gun owner profile do you have?  Is gun ownership common in your area?
      • Does only your dog and your hunting buddy know you have guns?
      • Are you a Second Amendment advocate whose name has been published?  Advocating for gun owners is critical to maintain our freedoms, but gives you a higher profile.  Any comments you make at public government hearings and letters to your representatives are generally public record.  Newspapers may quote your testimony and identify you by name as a gun owner.
      • Are you a FFL dealer that sometimes conducts business from home?
    • Does your state require registration and permitting, which effectively creates a registry?  If you’re on a list of gun owners, it increases the amount of ways people can get your information.
Interactive Gun Owner Map published by NY Journal News Newspaper

Interactive Gun Owner Map published by NY Journal News Newspaper and Used in Burglaries

      • Has your state or city ever published a list or map of gun owners, or is it likely to do so in the future? In January 2013, the NY Journal News newspaper published an interactive map of gun owners in 3 NY counties that was used in some burglaries.  A Google app also did the same.
    • How easy is it to find your home address?

What kind of home fire risk do you have?

  • How many Home Fire Risk Factors do you have from the previous article?
  • Do you live in an area where a fire will probably be short, e.g. fast fire response, close hydrants, and good water pressure?
  • Do you live in an area that could be at risk for wildfires?

What kind of flood risk do you have?

Prioritize the Risks

Prioritize the risks for your situation.  This can save you a lot of money for protection you don’t really need.

  •  The national average risks prioritize Burglary first, then Floods, and then Fire.
StatisticBurglaryFireFloods and
Water Damage
Number per Year3,395,000 Total
(Attempted, Completed, & Not Reported)
381,000 House Fires730,000 Incidents
FrequencyEvery 9 secondsEvery 1:23 minutesEvery 44 seconds
Total Losses$4.6 Billion
(Reported to Police)
$7.2 Billion$9.1 Billion
SourceBJS 2011 and FBI 2011NFPA 2012FEMA 2012
  • If your house is out in the mountains surrounded by trees, you may have severe wildfire risk but not much worry about flood or burglary.  So, your priority may be Fire, Burglary, and then Flood.  On the other hand your gun safe may be your only line of defense against burglary because the nearest police are 1 hour away, so you might prioritize that first.

How valuable are your guns?

  • What is the market value of your guns?
    • Are they easy to replace?
    • Have you or a gunsmith done a lot of customization that would be costly and time consuming to replicate?
  • How valuable are your guns to you?
    • Do they have sentimental value that makes them irreplaceable like a family heirloom?

Can you fully insure your guns?

  • What’s your insurance firearms coverage limit?
    • If it’s not enough, can you get an additional rider?
    • Does your insurance include scopes, optics, rings, mounts, bipods, slings, holsters, and other accessories towards the firearms coverage limit?  This is common and significantly reduces your effective coverage of modest firearms coverage limits.
    • Does your insurance cover “Replacement Value” of your firearms, or the lower amounts “Market Value” or “Actual Cash Value”?
      • Can you get a Replacement Value rider for your firearms?
    • Does your insurance cover having a locksmith open your gun safe in the event of an unsuccessful burglary attempt or fire?
  • What documentation do you need to make a firearms claim?
    • Do you need to have your guns appraised ahead of time?
    • Do you need receipts for your accessories and gunsmithing?
  • Does your current insurance cover both theft and fire?
  • Does the insurance company have any requirements for the type of safe(s) you store your firearms in?  Asking ahead of time can save you money.
  • Have you made claims before to your insurance company?  How easy were they to deal with?
  • Do you have flood insurance?
    • Does your flood insurance cover your guns?  Go over the same coverage questions above with your flood insurance.
  • Do you have additional gun insurance coverage through other organizations?
    • NRA membership used to come with $2,500 of no cost gun insurance, if you activated it beforehand.
  • Do you need a separate gun insurance policy?
  • Can you afford the premiums for the gun insurance you want, or would you rather spend the money on a good safe and take your chances?

Who are you controlling gun access to?

Think about everyone who has access to your home.

  • Do you have children?
    • What age(s)?
    • Are they educated about firearms safety?
    • How clever are they at breaking into things?
  • Do you have grandchildren who visit?
  • Are there guests that stay with you from time to time?  Do they have children?
  • Do you have babysitters in your house?
  • Do house sitters ever stay at your home?
  • Do you have neighborhood kids feed your pets or water your plants while you’re gone?
  • Who has keys to your house?
    • Where do they keep your keys in their house?
    • Are your keys labeled with your name/address so they could be used to burglarize you if they were lost?
    • Do they have anyone in their household or family whom you have to worry about getting your keys?

How much do you access to your guns?

Security and ease of access can conflict if you don’t plan ahead.

  • How often would you ideally want access to your guns or gun safe?
  • Do you carry concealed?  How often?  Where do you want to put your gun when you take it off?
  • Would you like an easy-to-access gun available for home protection?

If I’ve missed any good questions to ask when planning your security, please leave a comment below. Click below to go back to the article you came from.

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