Proper gun safety is one of the most important rules in being a responsible gun owner. Follow these very basic rules to ensure firearm safety, and always look to increase your knowledge and improve your handling with your weapons.
1. Always handle a firearm as if it were loaded
Even if you are sure that a weapon is unloaded, always treat it as if it is. Not only does it prevent accidents — you could have forgot to check the chamber — but it gets you into the habit of always handling a firearm safely.
2. Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction
Be sure to keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times; you never want to have your weapon pointed at or near anyone, or pointed at something it could ricochet off of.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger
This sounds very obvious, but it is easy to subconsciously put your finger near or on the trigger of your gun. Always keep your finger along the outside of the trigger guard until you are absolutely and 100% sure of shooting. This means you have checked your surroundings and can positively identify your target.
4. Always check to see if your weapon is/is not loaded
While following these first three steps, you also want to check whether or not your weapon is loaded. Make sure you do so with safe handling, which means keeping your firearm pointed in a safe direction with your finger away from the trigger.
5. Be sure you are in a safe area for shooting
A 9mm bullet from a mid-size handgun can travel over one mile before falling to the ground. While this isn’t too common as bullets usually strike something before reaching that length, it definitely puts the strength of your weapon into perspective. Before starting target practice or going hunting, be sure guns are permitted in the area and you are fully aware of your surroundings and intended targets.
6. The instruction manual is essential
An instruction manual for a weapon is far more important than the one that comes with your IKEA furniture. Be sure to thoroughly read all of the details in your manual for each weapon that you own. Doing so will help to give you the most confidence with handling your weapon in the safest way. If you do not have a manual, you can see if the retail store where you purchased the gun has a copy, or contact the manufacturer directly to obtain one.
7. Keep it clean
Another simple factor that is often overlooked is making sure your gun is routinely cleaned. Even a small amount of mud or dirt on your weapon can create a blockage causing the barrel to bulge or even burst, which can be extremely dangerous to the shooter and anyone around him/her.
8. Use the right ammo
Manufacturers recommend specific ammo for specific firearms for a purpose, which includes the safety of the user. The majority of modern weapons will have the caliber stamped on the side of the gun, so if you are ever unsure just check your firearm or call your local gun store for more information.
9. Protect your ears and eyes
Gun shots are loud – especially when multiple weapons are going off repeatedly, like when you’re at the gun range. Neglect of protecting your ears can result in damage of hearing or even hearing loss. That goes the same for your eyes; things like dirt, rocks, and other fragments can rebound, so be sure to wear eye protection as well, ideally with side panels.
10. Guns do not mix well with drugs or alcohol
In the most basic terms which we all have heard before, drugs and alcohol affect your body physically and mentally. This means that if you are drinking or using drugs, you should not be handling a weapons. Drugs and alcohol affect your judgement, alertness, and motor skills, which translates to unsafe handling of a gun.
11. Proper and secure storage
Whenever your gun is not in use, it should be stored and locked away in a safe place where it cannot be touched by a child or untrained adult. It is much easier than you think for your weapon to end up in the wrong hands. Be sure to take all of the proper measures to safely storing your gun. There are many options for a number of needs with storing weapons, including lock boxes, large and small safes, cable locks and more.
12. Know your state’s laws
Every state has its own set of laws regarding weapons. Educate yourself about the regulations within your state and be sure to follow them as a responsible gun owner. For any questions or for more information, reach out to your local firearms store or police station.
Please keep in mind this is a very basic list of firearm safety. Always continue to educate yourself on gun safety and be sure to take the proper measures in being a responsible and trustworthy gun owner. Always think before using your firearm and stay safe!