Owning a gun isn’t just about exercising your rights; it’s also about acknowledging the serious obligations that come with it. From understanding safe handling practices, to storing guns securely, to knowing the latest local and national laws, responsible gun ownership involves a commitment to both personal safety and the safety of those around us.

Basic Gun Safety Rules

If you plan to own a gun or want to brush up on basic gun safety, here are the 5 golden rules you should know.

1. Always Treat a Gun as if It Is Loaded

The foundational rule of handling a firearm is to treat it as if it’s loaded. This means you’ll always handle guns with the utmost care, never pointing it in an unsafe direction or touching the trigger. Treating it as if it’s loaded reinforces safe habits and significantly reduces the potential for unintentional damage.

2. Always Point in a Safe Direction

It does not matter whether you are at the range or at home, if you are holding a firearm, make sure you always keep it pointed in a safe direction when you are not aimed at your target. Always keep the muzzle pointed at the ground.

3. Do Not Touch the Trigger Unless Ready

Even when you are aimed at your target, keep your finger away from the trigger unless you are absolutely ready to shoot. This eliminates any chances of a panic pull due to situational stress and muscle memory. A good place to rest your index finger is the trigger guard. 

4. Confirm Your Target and the Backdrop

Before you pull the trigger, have your target in clear sight. Also, make sure that there is nothing behind the target that you do not want to hit. A bullet can either miss the target or penetrate through it and hit what is beyond. 

5. Know Your Firearm Well

If you do not own the firearm, get a quick overview of the safety mechanism, charging mechanism, mechanical characteristics, recoil, and any other necessary information relating to safe handling. If you own the firearm, you must also know how to field-strip and clean it to increase its reliability and reduce the risk of malfunctions.

Gun Safety Considerations

Other than the golden rules of firearm safety, there are several other considerations to be made by responsible gun owners to ensure personal safety and the safety of bystanders. 

  • No matter how excited or happy you feel, never shoot a gun in celebration. Many people think that shooting a gun towards the sky is okay, but the bullets can drop back to the ground with enough force to fatally injure or kill a person.
  • Do not shoot with your weapon on a hard surface or water as bullets have a tendency to ricochet. 
  • Never use a firearm when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Not only is this a legal offense, but you also compromise your safety as well as the safety of others. Additionally, make sure never to have access to a firearm when you are angry, sad, or depressed. 
  • Individuals struggling with mental health or anger management issues should seriously consider the implications and potential risks of owning a firearm. If you find yourself in a situation where a person with these challenges has access to a firearm, remove yourself from the situation immediately.
  • Do not brandish your gun in a public place, even if it is an open-carry state. Brandishing your firearm is a legal offense of serious degree in most states. 
  • Always use designated ammunition with your firearm. Do not modify it in any way that compromises safety and function. For any permanent modifications to the gun, always visit a gunsmith. 
  • Never take your weapon with you in a gun-free zone, as this can lead to legal trouble. 
  • If you use your handguns for EDC (everyday carry) or CCW (concealed carrying a weapon), use an appropriate holster and ensure it is securely fastened to avoid any safety hazards.
  • Always wear eye and ear protection while shooting a firearm, and always be mindful about the safety of your bystanders.
  • Before you purchase a firearm, enroll in a training course to learn about the basics of handling. If you want to carry a handgun regularly, the best method is to enroll in a concealed carry certification program and then apply for a CCW license. 

Responsible Gun Ownership with Kids Around

If you have kids at home, responsible gun ownership is not only a responsibility but also a serious duty. We all know that kids are curious and like to fiddle around with objects they find in the house. Here are a few things you can do to make sure the kids in your house are safe from gun-related incidents. 

Safe Storage of Firearms

A major component of proper firearm safety in the presence of children is properly storing guns in a secure manner and out of reach of children. Always keep firearms unloaded when not in use. They should be kept locked up, with ammunition stored separately in a locked location.

Educate Your Kids About Gun Safety

Education plays a significant role in ensuring your children’s safety around firearms.

  • Start early: Begin teaching your children about gun safety at a young age. Explain that guns are not toys and should never be touched without adult supervision.
  • Teach the basics: As your children grow older, you can start teaching them the basic rules of gun safety. For example, always treat guns as if they’re loaded, never point a gun at anyone, and never touch the trigger unless you intend to fire.
  • Use resources: Various organizations offer resources to help teach kids about gun safety. Books, videos, and programs can assist in delivering this critical message in an age-appropriate manner.

Encourage Open Communication

Foster an environment where your children feel comfortable asking questions about firearms. If they encounter a firearm somewhere else, such as at a friend’s house, they should know what to do and feel confident enough to discuss the situation with a trusted adult.

Proper Gun Storage

An integral part of responsible gun ownership is proper gun storage. From lock boxes, cable locks, trigger locks, gun safes, and gun vaults, there are a lot of options to choose from. 

Gun Locks

These are cable or other mechanism-based locks that jam the firing mechanism of your firearm, ensuring it cannot be used. Using gun locks is a good idea if you do not have somewhere to store your firearm. 

Additionally, even if you find a place to hide your firearm which does not have a lock, the gun locking device will deter curious kids or people from using it. However, this method will not protect your gun against theft. 

Gun Storage Devices

Storage devices such as gun cabinets, vaults, or safes have been an effective method of protecting your firearms. From small drawer style and portable box-style devices to big gun vaults capable of holding 100 firearms, there are a lot of gun storage options. 

A gun cabinet has thick metal walls, a gun safe has thicker walls, and a gun vault is the biggest and safest. These safes can either have a biometric or mechanical locking mechanism, each with its pros and cons. 

Apart from a wide range of small to large, and fixed to portable options, you can also opt for gun concealment furniture for a more offbeat solution. Having a good gun safe not only protects your weapons from unauthorized use, but also helps with properly organized storage and maintaining the right environment for your guns (using dehumidifiers or silica gel and with waterproof/fireproof safes). 

Follow the Law

To be a responsible gun owner means abiding by the law and avoiding illegal activities using firearms. You must also undergo proper gun safety training as some states (WA, MA, RI, CT, MD, CA, and HI) require you to have certified training before purchasing a gun. 

Different states have their own set of gun laws related to purchasing, modifications, transportation hunting, and other matters. There are also some federal laws that apply universally nationwide. Offenses related to firearms can attract serious penalties, so make sure you are aware of at least your local gun laws. 

Gun Ownership Done Right

Handing your firearms with respect and care is essential for your personal safety and the safety of those around you. By embracing your rights with a conscientious approach, you are actively cultivating a culture of responsible firearm ownership.

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July 11, 2023