Shoot for farm safety

Ensuring safe firearm storage is vital. Safe firearm storage complies with legal requirements and significantly reduces the risk of accidents, suicides and unintentional harm, fostering a safer environment for families and communities.

A tractor in a farm.
Photo: Pexels/Nicolas Viethen.

Farmers are often familiar with the responsible use of firearms for protection, hunting, sport shootin, and pest control; however, ensuring safe storage of firearms is equally crucial, especially now given the new gun safety laws passed by the state of Michigan in 2023. These laws, effective February 13, 2024, include new penalties associated with improper firearm storage. 

Safe storage practices

Removing firearms entirely from the home is the safest option, but this may not be practical. If you are interested in removing firearms from the home, you could inquire with local law enforcement, gun shops, shooting ranges, or a trusted friend (depending on local laws and other regulations). If the option to remove the firearm is not viable for your situation, you can still lower the risk of injury and loss of life by suicide by practicing safe storage in the home. Some tips include:

  • Leaving firearms unloaded. An accident is less likely when the firearm is stored unloaded.
  • Locking firearms away safely. A lock box, cable lock, trigger lock or a gun safe are all options for safely storing your firearm. The new bill removes Michigan sales tax from these items to encourage their use. Another option is to take the firearm apart. It likely won’t cost money to remove a firing pin, but using a trigger or cable lock will be easier (you may also be able to get a free lock; visit Project ChildSafe or ask local police).
  • Storing and locking ammunition away separately. To further enhance safety, store ammunition separately. This additional precaution makes it more difficult for unauthorized individuals, especially minors, to access a loaded firearm, reducing the risk of accidents.

To learn more about safe storage options for firearms, visit

Reducing suicide risk

Beyond legal compliance, understanding and implementing safe storage practices can contribute to creating a safe environment for ourselves, our families and our community.

In the United States, firearms are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents (aged one to 19 years) and over half of all deaths by suicide occur with a firearm. The mere presence of a firearm in a home is associated with a three to four times higher likelihood of unintentional death, suicide and homicide.; Safe storage can reduce these risks.

In our commitment to cultivating a safer and more supportive farming community, let's embrace these responsible storage practices. You can learn more about firearm safety from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, and remember, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a free, nationwide 24/7 resource that can be reached over the phone, via text or through online chat. Stay informed, secure your firearms responsibly and foster a culture of safety on the farm.

Opportunities to connect

Michigan State University Extension also offers a variety of programming and resources to support yourself or loved ones undergoing mental health distress. MSU Extension offers programs such as Mental Health First Aid, which can teach you how to support someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

For those in the agriculture industry and their families, resources and information can be found at the Managing Farm Stress website. These resources include teletherapy services, the free virtual training Rural Resilience, and much more.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, medical, or professional advice. Readers should consult with appropriate professionals for advice tailored to their specific situations. The author and Michigan State University Extension are not liable for any actions taken based on the content of this article.

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