Owning a firearm is a big responsibility for an owner as well people around him, therefore owners should keep their guns safe from damage, theft and unauthorised use by people in the house.
Gun safes are the best option in keeping firearms and valuables from unauthorised access, and as such also prescribed by the Firearms Control Act in South Africa. Many types of gun safes are available in the market, based on various factors, so that you can choose the one that suits your home, circumstances and budget best.
Types of firearm safes
The different types of gun safes available in the market can be classified according to their type of locks, sizes, properties, and installation spots. One also gets gun safes specifically for vehicles.
Gun safe types based on locks
There are a quite large variety of locks available on gun safes. Dial lock gun safes have a traditional dial and lock mechanism and are strong and durable.
Biometric gun safes are the most secure type of gun safes as they require biometric data like fingerprints, etc. to be operated.
Electronic gun safes have a number pad where one have to enter a specific combination of numbers to open the safe.
Gun safe types based on size:
The size of the gun safe you should buy naturally depends on the type and number of guns you have. Handgun safes are compact and can store up to 2-3 handguns. They are easy to hide or move while long gun safes that are used to store rifles and other long guns, can be designed to fit in corners to save space.
Gun safe types based on properties:
Some gun safes are designed to not only protect the firearms from thieves, but also from natural forces. Fireproof gun safes, for example, have a special layer insulation in their walls that provide effective protection when exposed to extreme heat. While not very common, one can get waterproof gun safes that provide protection against flooding and water damage.
Gun safe types based on installation spot:
Most firearm owners want to have their safes within close reach without giving the location away. Wall gun safes can be installed into a wall and kept hidden with a painting or a decorative object while most other gun safes can be integrated with furniture, so that only close inspection can reveal the location of the safe.
Some other distinguishing features of gun safes
Gun Safes designed for vehicles
Vehicle safes are concealed type B3 safes that is bolted to the body of a vehicle. It is however a prerequisite that an alarm and immobiliser must be installed in the vehicle too.
Such a safe must be installed by an approved installer and a certificate containing the date of installation, the installer’s name, address, and the vehicle’s make and registration, engine, and chassis number, must be obtained from the installer. It must also be confirmed that the vehicle is equipped with an immobiliser.
Gun safe cabinets
Some safe manufacturers has several model ranges, not only catering for a huge variety of safes but also offering custom made safes to customer’s specifications. These can include different locking mechanisms, safe sizes, double door safes, combo safes with extra door on top, gun racks, shelving requirements and hidden compartments if requested.
The most important feature should be that the safes are quality inspected with an ISO standard in the manufacturing procedure and carrying the SABS mark.
Heavy duty gun safes
In a country with a huge hunting community a gun safe is a necessity as well as prescribed by the law. The safe keeping of such firearms in rifle safes is of utmost importance.
If a firearm lands in the wrong hands, the consequences can be disastrous. With guns of various sizes and descriptions being used in South Africa, the Firearms Control Act 2000 regulates not only the availability and use of firearms and ammunition but also the way in which firearms must be stored.
The Act gives detailed descriptions for the above and makes it a criminal offence to contravene any provision of the Act, so a firearm owner has to know his or her responsibilities when owning, using, handling and storing firearms.
When a person applies for a firearm license, one of the legal requirements of becoming a firearm owner is that he or she must install a gun safe in his or her home. Such a safe must be installed correctly according to SABS 953-1 Safe Regulations because a firearms officer will come to inspect the installation.
Gun safes for individuals are categorised into type B safes, and type B safes are classified into three types. Type B1 refers to a gun safe designed for handguns, and they have to be mounted to either a brick wall, or concrete floor, or both, by at least two M10 x 80 anchor bolts.
A type B2 gun safe refers to a safe designed for rifles and needs to be fixed to a wall or floor, or both, by at least 4 M10x80 anchor bolts. Type B3 safes refer to safes mounted to vehicles and need to be installed by an approved installer to the vehicle’s body.
Therefore, when you go shopping for a safe, you can be assured that, as long as you buy a gun safe that is SANS 953-1 approved, it will be the correct type as set out in the SANS 953-1 and will comply with the minimum required standard.
If you already own a safe, make sure that it adheres to the standards described above.
According to the SAPS regulations, a gun safe needs to be installed in a firearm owner’s residence but it does not prescribe exactly where it should be installed, so the Designated Firearms Officer can’t tell you where you should install the safe in your home.
It should of course not be installed in clear sight or be easily reachable by any person but yourself.
Is it legal to keep a gun in your house?
Yes, if you are 18 or older, have a licence for a specific firearm and a safe that meets the requirements, you may keep a gun in your house.
Does the Firearms Control Act prescribe where a gun safe must be installed in a home?
No, the regulations do not prescribe exactly where it should be installed, but it should not be installed in clear sight or be easily reachable by any person but yourself.
May a person own more than one firearm legally in South Africa?
Yes, but a person can own only one handgun or a shotgun which is not fully or semi-automatic for self-defence. He or she may however own up to four firearms for the purpose of hunting and sports shooting.
May a firearm owner in South Africa store his firearm in any type of safe?
No, you must make sure to buy a gun safe that is SANS 953-1 approved, then you know it will be the correct type as set out in the SANS 953-1 and will comply with the minimum required standard. A safe must also be installed correctly according to SABS 953-1 Safe Regulations because a firearms officer will come to inspect the installation.
Is there any way a firearm may be stored in a vehicle?
Yes, according to SANS 953-1, a person is allowed to store a firearm in a concealed type B3 safe that is bolted to the body of a vehicle if an alarm and immobiliser is installed in the vehicle.