"If I want to protect my family, if I want to have a weapon in the home, that should be my right," Gillibrand, who has two small children, said in an interview published in Monday's Newsday.
Her spokesman, Matt Canter, said Monday that the rifles are not loaded and the Gillibrands follow gun-safety procedures. He would not say if they keep ammunition nearby.
Gillibrand was a little-known second-term congresswoman from a rural Republican district when she was tapped by Gov. David Paterson to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As a member of the House, she had earned a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.
The day her appointment was announced, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy threatened a 2010 primary challenge. She was elected to Congress after her husband was killed and her son wounded in a shooting rampage on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993.
Gillibrand has said that her views are broadening as she moves from representing one rural district to the entire state. She has said she would work to fight gun violence while still protecting hunters' rights.
Gillibrand told Newsday that while she and her husband don't hunt, her mother, brother and father do.
"I grew up in a house where my mom owns about eight guns," she said. "She keeps them in a gun case."
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