In many European countries (like Germany or the UK), gun owners are legally required to store their guns unloaded and lock their guns and ammunition up in separate safes. In some of those countries, storing guns and ammunition in the same safe is fine but one is not allowed to store ammunition which fits a gun in the same safe as that gun.

Are there official reasons given for this legislation? I'm interested both in reasons for having to store firearms unloaded and for having to store them separately from (fitting) ammunition. But I'm more interested in the latter as it seems fairly likely that a common view is that there is just no reason to store a gun loaded if you're only allowed to shoot it on specifically licensed gun ranges (not on your own property) and are not allowed to transport loaded firearms.

I consider official reasons given by any country in Europe (doesn't even need to be in the EU) or a country of reasonable size (let's say 10 M inhabitants; just trying to make sure I have a chance to find stuff online because that's going to be hard if the reason is give for special legislation only affecting some municipality in a third world country) answers to my question. This includes not only reasons given by the legislative branch but also ones given by the judicial or executive ones. Official reasons given by the EU count too, of course.

If there are no such official reasons, I consider reasons given by big parties or high-ranking politicians valid answers.


As noted in the Firearms security handbook (published by the UK government), the purpose of firearm security is:

the physical prevention of access to those firearms by persons who might lawfully occupy the property other than the certificate holder, as well as by intruders. This may be especially important when children are in the premises.

If the ammunition is kept on a shelf in the same cabinet as the guns then an intruder or a person who get access to the key has access to a loaded gun. There is a single point of failure.

By keeping the ammunition separate, if a child or intruder were to gain access to the keys to a gun cabinet (for example if the gun owner left their keys accessible to the child) then the child or intruder would not immediately have a deadly weapon. The physical separation of guns and ammunition provide extra security:

As an additional level of security, ammunition and easily removable component parts – such as rifle bolts etc - may be stored separately from the firearms they fit.

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    Good stuff and useful info. – Peter David Carter Nov 18 '17 at 23:58
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    Are gun owners in the UK obligated to keep the keys to their ammunition safes and the ones to their gun safes in different locations? Are they obligated to use different combinations or PINs for them if they use number locks or electronic locks? – UTF-8 Nov 19 '17 at 16:34
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    The obligation is to keep the guns and ammunition secure. That is the responsibility of the gun owner. Using different pins or keeping the keys separate would be good practice. Compare with car law, where the law bans reckless or dangerous driving. Safe driving would include, for example, checking mirrors, but this is not explicitly mentioned in the law. Likewise the law doesn't explicitly mention different PINs, but it is mentioned in the published guidance – James K Nov 19 '17 at 19:38

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