For example, I can think of a bunch of ways to store guns safely -- that is, in a way that prevents casual access by unauthorized individuals such as children.
- Locking metal cabinet (gun locker)
- Padlocked individual carrying cases
- Trigger locks
- Disassembly and securing key parts (for example, locking the firing pins in a drawer)
Safe access is not counter to rapid access, either. There are safes -- particularly for handguns -- that can be quickly opened in times of need. There are also devices (like the magna-ring trigger Mas Ayoob endorses) that can effectively "lock" a gun.
These methods are all relatively inexpensive. I probably have a few hundred bucks invested in safe storage and I feel pretty comfortable with our level of safety.
Safe storage is not necessarily secure storage, however. As Gwen so kindly pointed out for us, even a full size safe can be carted off by thieves to be cracked at their leisure. Trying to secure your firearms against theft and fire is much more expensive and difficult.
A decent gun safe (not locker) will start out around $600+ (the Winchester special at Costco these days) and quickly get to be over $1000. Additionally, even the best safe just slows down criminals; if someone really wants access, they will get it. If your house isn't set up properly for a large heavy safe then it may not help much either; for example, putting a safe in the garage (unless its bolted to the foundation) is not a good idea. Many second story floors can't handle a half-ton safe. I don't know where I would put one in my home.
Concealment -- hiding stuff -- is another decent option. Thieves can't steal what they don't find. However, this is also tough -- thieves are pros and are good at searching for stuff. It may also be at odds with safe storage; kids will find the darndest things. It might be worth considering if you don't have any kids and can secure your home (and maybe put trigger locks on them too, just in case). For me, its not an option because of policy that applies to our housing development; the guns must be locked up.
Fireproofing is also very hard. Good safes may be rated to 30 minutes or so but still, it'd be tough to survive a major residential fire.
Insurance is a better option for many people. Right now we pay about 1.5% of the value of our gun collection every year for theft insurance. This sounds like a lot but I could pay the premiums for around 20 years before I'd have covered the cost of a safe. If we got robbed it would suck that criminals might be running around with our guns, but even with an expensive, heavy safe they'd probably get the guns anyways given the layout of our home.
Right now I cannot justify dropping a grand on a safe. I have nowhere to put it, it wouldn't enhance the safety of my storage, and it would only slightly increase the security of my storage -- I'd have to put it in my garage, and that just seems like a bad place to store valuables to me. Another factor is my occupation; we'll probably move in the next few years and lugging a safe will be a pain. Especially when you factor in how relatively inexpensive insurance is, it is kind of a no brainer.
If I was geographically stable and had a good place to put it, I'd consider a good safe. But right now I don't think it'd add much. I don't understand why many people will dump a ton of money into a safe but not so much into a little insurance. Unless you have heirloom guns that are literally irreplaceable (sentimental value, for example), who cares what the fire rating of your storage is? If your house goes up in flames, that's a problem for insurance, not a safe.