The ultimate intended purpose of a firearm is to kill, and sometimes to intimidate hostiles. With such a thing in your hands, that can decide on the life and death of another person or animal, it is essential to respect it and take appropriate safety measures. 

This detailed guide will focus on elaborating the firearm safety rules, and how you should imbibe them into your nature when working with firearms. 

Four Golden Rules of Firearm Safety

Although the list of safety rules is quite long, these four golden rules are the most basic and important, covering the entire essence of this concept. 

Always Treat the Gun as Loaded

The first and foremost rule pretty much sums it all up. A firearm should always be handled with utmost respect and regard for its decimating power. Whenever you hold a gun in your hand, your conscious and subconscious mind should always be aware that you are holding a weapon. 

Why is that important, one may ask? Well, the exact reason is that almost all firearm accidents happen due to mishandling of the weapon. Maybe a person is casually handling the firearm, unaware that there is a live round inside the action. This is the reason why people are advised to manually inspect the firearm every time they pick it up. 

Be Careful with Pointing the Muzzle

A negligent discharge will almost always result in a fatal or non-fatal accident if the muzzle was pointed at the wrong spot. Even if a rookie user is casual enough to manhandle the firearm, keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction ensures adequate safety. 

Trigger Discipline is Essential

If you have ever noticed a soldier or a policeman holding a gun, you can always find that their index finger rests on the trigger guard, until they are aimed and absolutely ready to shoot. This is known as trigger discipline and ensures that one does not accidentally press the trigger, especially under a high-stress situation. 

Point Consciously and Be Aware of the Backdrop 

Before you point your loaded firearm at the target, you must be absolutely sure that you want to shoot it. Additionally, it is also important to remember that even a small caliber bullet can travel for miles if unhindered, and before coming to a stop. So it is essential to be aware that there is nothing beyond the intended target you do not want to hit, in case the bullet misses. 

Secondary but Important Rules to Follow

After learning about the most prominent gun safety rules, take a look at some additional safety precautions for safe gun handling. 

Always Use Recommended Ammo

Sometimes, people get an urge to switch ammunition for similar-sized chambers in firearms. For example, a 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington can be fired interchangeably from rifles chambered for either of these. However, both of these have different pressure ratings, and doing so can result in a fatal accident. Use only the correct ammunition that has been recommended by the manufacturer, which is of good quality, and in good condition. 

Know About Your Firearm

Before you start shooting with a firearm, make sure to first understand the mechanical and handling characteristics. Things like the location of safety, recoil, cheek weld, etc should be familiarized before using the weapon. Never try to modify the gun parts, unless you are a qualified gunsmith and know about firearms in detail. 

Ensure the Barrel Is Clear

Different carry styles, situations, and other factors may cause any debris or obstruction to jam inside the barrel. While this is a trivial matter most of the time, sometimes it can end up being a big problem. This can be a significant deterrent if the firearm is being used in muddy or soggy environments, and does not receive good maintenance. 

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

An essential factor to ensure that your firearm is always in good condition is to conduct maintenance activities on a regular basis. Firearms use metal parts that are prone to rust if not taken care of. A simple takedown and lubing operation will not take more than a few minutes and will ensure that the gun is in good shape, and also reliable in the long run. 

Never Brandish or Use under Influence of Drugs

Brandishing a firearm unnecessarily in public places is considered a felony, and will get you in trouble with local law enforcement. It is offensive to others and a firearm should always be carried responsibly in public places. Additionally, as a responsible gun owner, make sure you never use a loaded gun under the influence of alcohol, or any drugs that hamper your cognitive, or awareness abilities. 

Keep the Gun Unloaded Until Ready to Use

A simple but useful consideration for gun safety is to keep the firearm unloaded until you are ready to use it. You should try to keep the chamber empty and load a round only when you are ready to shoot. On the contrary, if you want to always stay on the ready, make sure to practice engaging and disengaging the safety. As far as revolvers are concerned, keeping one chamber empty, and the hammer down solves the ‘safe gun handling’ issue. 

Extra Safety Considerations for Range Use

  • Always respect range guidelines and the range safety officer. Different ranges have their own specific guidelines regarding the use of ammunition, firearm types, equipment, and other factors. For example, most indoor ranges do not allow the use of steel core and steel case ammo. 
  • Make sure to carry the gun safely when at the shooting range, and always in line with the four golden safety rules as mentioned above. When you are at the firing booth, only point your gun in the direction of the target. If the range officer asks you to step down, switch your gun to safety and keep it on the booth desk with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. 
  • In case your gun fails to fire, never disengage from your position instantly, and wait for at least thirty seconds. Sometimes, a misfired round keeps on cooking and fires only after a few seconds.
  • Never fire your weapon at hard surfaces, because it presents a danger of the bullet ricocheting. 
  • Always make sure to use eye protection and firearm hearing protection at the range for maximum safety. Eye and ear protection is important because your ears will be subject to the dangerous noise levels of hundreds of rounds. 

Extra Safety Considerations for Hunting

  • When you are out hunting, always stay aware of your surroundings to ensure you do not unnecessarily brush your firearm against objects. If you trip and fall, try to have a carry position that helps keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction. Also make sure what carry position makes you comfortable out in the field as you move and run. The three major carry positions for hunting are American carry, European carry and African carry. 
  • Know your zone of fire when hunting with multiple participants, so you always know where to aim. 
  • Do not shoot when in doubt, because a missed or wrongly placed shot can have serious outcomes. It can result in a wounded or annoyed game animal charging right at you, or maybe you cannot judge the backdrop and end up hitting something unwanted. 
  • Use the right rifle scope that offers proper eye relief in resonance with the recoil and your cheek weld. A ‘scope eye’ is when the eyepiece of the recoiling scope hits you on your eye because of improper eye relief. 

Extra Safety Considerations for Home Defense

  • Home defense and self-defense are what most people buy guns for, and a lot of the time, people are worried about their kids getting their hands on a gun. Rather than finding ways to hide or secure firearms from your kids, a good option is to educate your kids about firearms.
  • Demystify guns for kids and explain the gravity of having and using a firearm, rather than worrying about the inevitable. You can use bb guns, or allow them to spend time at the range and understand gun safety. 
  • Getting a good gun safe is a worthwhile investment and a strong initiative for responsible gun ownership. Secure storage of your firearms prevents unauthorized persons from accessing your guns, which also include kids, inquisitive visitors, and burglars. 
  • Gun owners should store guns and ammunition separately, and place the safe at inconspicuous and easily accessible locations. 

Final Notes

Responsible gun owners should always remember and implement all the rules of firearm safety. From keeping an unloaded gun to safe storage, a user must practice these so much that it becomes second nature.

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July 28, 2022