In light of the tragic events and violence that happens too often due to firearm neglect and improper use, we have assembled a firearm safety guide to keep you and others around you safe at all times. Firearm safety should be top of mind whenever you handle a gun, especially when it is not on your person. Memorize these gun safety rules to avoid a deadly accident.
A big part of using your handgun safely is to know every component, no matter how big or small. If necessary, take a beginner’s course on using a gun. You will learn about all of its components and how to care for guns to avoid major damage. A gun handling course or gun education training can teach you exactly how to open and close the action, load or unload ammunition, use the safety mechanism, and additional safety practices.
Even if you are an experienced gun owner, you are not properly trained to deal with every type of firearm. Different firearms have different methods of handling them. If you are handling a gun that you have never used, take some time to get to know its safe loading, unloading, and handling practices before using it.
Firearm Safety Rules
When dealing with guns, you do not want to skip learning all about proper gun safety. You may think gun safety is common sense and you know everything there is to know about guns but you can get careless. Even as a seasoned pro, it is your responsibility to have to go over common firearm handling rules, especially if you have not gone shooting or hunting in a long time.
Common gun safety rules include keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction, always being sure of the target you intend to shoot, and using the correct ammunition. While a gun safety education course can cover safe practices, here are some golden safety precautions to live by.
Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger
It may be tempting to keep your finger on the trigger and pretend you are one of the good guys just waiting for the baddie right around the corner. While it may look cool on the big screen, keeping your finger on the trigger, especially with new users, can increase the risk of an accidental discharge. Only put your finger on the trigger when you are absolutely sure you are ready to shoot, otherwise always keep your finger off the trigger until you have assessed your target and are ready to fire.
Treat All Guns As If They Are Loaded
This is one of the big ones, if not the most important rule to live by. It is a matter of life or death that you never assume a gun is unloaded, even if you think you remember unloading it the last time you used it. There is no room for error when handling a firearm and ammunition. Even experienced users can get sloppy with safe gun handling practices such as making sure your guns are cleared after every use.
Be Aware Of Your Target And What Is Behind It
In target practice or when hunting, for instance, you want to have a full view and be completely sure where you are pointing your gun and what lies beyond your target. If you are unsure of your target, do not point at it or shoot. In addition, you must always have great situational awareness to see what is beyond the target since the bullet can fly through it for long distances. Always check that there are no people near your target.
As a rule of thumb, always think before you shoot. You want to be completely sure of your target. Do not shoot at something if you are startled by a noise or movement, even though you may feel like your life is threatened. Shooting while scared or frightened can impair your judgement and increase the risk of shooting something you do not mean to shoot.
Never Point the Gun At Anything You Do Not Want to Shoot
You always want the gun pointed in a safe direction. Never point a firearm in an unsafe direction where you do not intend to shoot. Avoid pointing it at those nearby “just for fun”, even if you know it is unloaded. In addition, avoid pointing the muzzle of the gun in an unsafe direction when loading or unloading a gun. If accidentally discharged, it could cause an injury if pointed at someone.
Just because you are pointing it away from someone, does not mean it is completely safe, either. If accidentally discharged, the bullet ricochet can go through walls and ceilings. Even if you are dry firing your gun (firing an unloaded gun), you should not point it in an unsafe direction. Always assume your gun is loaded.
Keep the Gun Unloaded Until It Is Ready for Use
Keeping the gun loaded and ready for use may seem like the best way to have the upper hand over an incoming threat, but it may not always be wise to do so, especially if you do not know how to load a gun and have to do so in an emergency situation. Keeping your guns loaded increases the risk of them accidentally firing when used by a novice shooter.
After you have finished using your gun, you should unload it immediately before placing it near an area where it can be accessed by others. When handing the firearm off to someone, always make it a point to open the action and check the chamber, receiver, and magazine to ensure it is not loaded. For added safety, keep the action open when you are not using it.
Do Not Rely on the Gun Safety
A gun’s safety is kind of a misnomer since it is not completely fail-safe. A gun’s safety is a mechanical device that can fail, although it can be unlikely. However, you do not want to risk relying on the safety alone. In rare instances, a gun safety can become accidentally disengaged without your knowledge. Relying on a safety should never be a substitute for safe gun use.
Even if the safety is on, it can become undone with a strong enough drop or blow, which can cause an accidental discharge. Even if the trigger is not pulled, the gun can fire if dropped. If carrying your gun on a holster on your person, do not press up the gun against a surface or object since the surface can cause the safety to switch to its off position.
Make Sure Your Gun Is Safe for Use
Do not assume that just because the gun is loaded, it is ready for use. Guns are tools that require regular maintenance and care. If you do not carefully maintain your firearm, it can do more than tarnish its exterior, it can cost you your life in a worst case scenario. Regularly perform safe cleaning practices. Keeping the inner and outer components of the gun clean can remove any debris that can affect its function and safety.
Use the Right Ammunition
Each gun has a BB, pellet, cartridge, or shell specially designed for it. If you are unsure which ammunition you need for your firearm, check the barrel. More often than not, you will find the ammunition type here. Double-, no, triple-check the ammunition type’s information on the box and on the cartridge, if available, to use the right type of ammo in your firearms.
If your ammunition becomes soaked or completely submerged in water, do not use it. Immediately discard it in a safe manner to avoid it being used in another gun. On a similar note, do not use ammunition that has been sprayed with oil or a solvent. Ammunition that is too lubricated can cause a host of issues including poor ignition, damage to the gun, and injury to you or others.
If the Gun Does Not Fire, Handle with Caution
In rare instances, your firearm may not fire even after you have pulled the trigger. If this ever happens to you, remain calm and handle the firearm with great care. Immediately point the muzzle in a safe direction away from others. Point the breech away from your face and carefully open the action to unload and safely get rid of the cartridge.
Clear the Barrel
Before loading your firearms, make sure that their chamber or magazine has no ammunition. Check the barrel for any debris, oil, or other obstruction that can increase the pressure in the bore and lead to a malfunction or worse, an explosion. For safety, clean your bore with a cleaning rod every time before you shoot.
Do Not Modify Your Firearms
Over time, experienced firearm owners may want to alter or modify their guns with after-market accessories to meet their needs. However, firearms modifications can void warranties and increase the danger of its shooting mechanisms. Altering the trigger or safety are just a few modifications you want to avoid. However, textured grips and sights are helpful modifications that can actually reduce the risk of accidental discharges.
Always Wear Eye and Ear Protection
It may not look as cool to wear eye and ear protection, but these protection tools can be the difference between hearing and eye damage and safe gun use. Because guns are extremely loud when shot, you need hearing protection such as ear plugs to protect your sensitive eardrums.
In addition, wearing the proper safety glasses can prevent you from getting damaged by flying casings. Some glasses can also protect your eyes from the blinding sun and provide some color correction for a better view of your target when shooting.
Never Use a Firearm While Intoxicated
It should be left unsaid, but we will say it anyway because it is so important. Never use a firearm after or while using alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, or prescription drugs, especially if it is your first time taking the drug. You never know how you will react to the drug and how it will impair your cognitive and motor function. These intoxicants can reduce your inhibitions, which can make you forget every important rule you would be aware of in a sober state.
Do Not Deal With Firearms When You Are Mentally Unstable
Drugs are not the only thing that can impair your judgment when shooting firearms. If you are angry, anxious, or depressed, your cognitive and motor function will be altered. In these emotional states of mind, you are not clearly thinking and may make rash decisions about your use of guns. In these heightened states of emotions, you do not want to be handling a deadly weapon.
Keep Guns Away From Unauthorized Persons
When at home or abroad, it is imperative to know where your firearms are at all times and make them inaccessible to those who are not properly trained to use them. Always keep your firearms unloaded and away from unauthorized users in safe storage areas. At home, store firearms and ammunition separately in safes to keep them secure. Some safes even have fingerprinting technology to only provide access to the authorized user.
Follow Safe Gun Range Rules
If you are shooting at the gun range, always follow the range rules such as carrying a firearm in a bag or case and waiting to remove it from the case until you reach the shooting bay. When you are done at the range, you should unload your gun and pack up in your shooting bay, not anywhere else to reduce the risk of accidental injuries.
Teach Your Family About Guns
Even if you are the only person who will be handling a firearm, it is important to teach your family including your children proper gun education and how to use them safely and responsibly. Starting a dialogue about gun safety with your children at an early age can help prevent any major disasters. Instilling a sense of respect and firearms can keep your family safe from itself and outside threats.
Follow Every Golden Rule At All Times
Handling a gun safely takes practice and effort but it is completely worth the time spent. By following this list of golden rules, you can protect yourself and others from accidents on the range or at home. Refer to these safe shooting rules and always have them top of mind whenever a gun is present.