In most states in the US, we enjoy the liberties granted to us by the second amendment. The right to bear arms, however, comes with monumental responsibilities. Each year, there are hundreds of preventable, unintentional deaths caused by firearm accidents.
While we certainly believe in your right to possess a firearm for recreation or personal defense, it’s important to understand the basic gun safety rules before handling a firearm. Military personal, police, and other armed professionals must go through rigorous training in order to carry firearms in the line of duty.
As a citizen deciding to own a firearm, you should hold yourself to the same standard. Understanding and implementing the rules of gun safety will keep you, your family, and others safe.
We want to help. Keep reading for a complete guide on how to safely handle firearms.
1. Never Assume a Firearm Isn’t Loaded
First, treat every firearm you handle as if it were loaded. Even if it’s your gun and no one else should have access to it, never take gun safety for granted.
Upon picking up the firearm, keep it pointed in a safe direction and ensure the safety is on. While keeping your finger off the trigger, release the magazine. Then, pull back the slide, bolt-action, or lever to ensure there isn’t a bullet in the chamber.
Do this every time you handle the weapon. Many accidental firearm deaths and injuries occur because the handler assumes the weapon is unloaded and pulls the trigger.
2. Ensure the Safety is On
When handling a weapon, it’s vital that the safety mechanism is on at all times. The only time you should take the safety off is when you’re getting ready to fire.
The safety mechanism locks the trigger in place or otherwise inhibits the gun from firing. If you’re handling a weapon while the safety is off, you could accidentally pull the trigger.
This is especially important when handling a firearm with a light trigger pull. Learning to automatically activate safety is one of the first things they teach in gun safety courses.
However, not all firearms have safety switches. In this case, there are other mechanisms in place to prevent accidental firings.
3. Maintain Muzzle Discipline at All Times
Pointing a firearm in the wrong direction is one of the most common gun safety mistakes people make when they’re new to firearms. Also known as “muzzle control” or “muzzle disciple,” you must learn how to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.
Whether you’re at the range, at home, or in a store shopping for a gun, muzzling people is a quick way to get in trouble, make people upset, or cause an accident. When handling a gun, keep the barrel pointed downward and away from others.
4. Maintain Trigger Finger Discipline
Trigger finger control is one of the most important rules of gun safety. In other words, you need to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire the weapon.
Many people automatically put their finger on the trigger, which is a good way to accidentally fire off the weapon. Instead, keep your trigger finger straight alongside the upper receiver or barrel of the weapon to avoid accidentally discharging a round.
Implement this gun safety rule while at the range, while at home, and anywhere else you might handle a firearm.
5. Learn How the Firearm Operates
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One of the best ways to avoid gun accidents is by learning everything you can about the weapon. Answer the following questions:
- Does the gun have a safety switch?
- How is the safety switch activated and deactivated?
- How does the safety switch prevent the gun from being fired?
- How is the magazine seated and released from the gun?
- How are bullets cycled through the gun?
- How is the gun dismantled for cleaning?
- How do I safely clear a gun jam?
- And more
The more you learn about the firearm, the safer you’ll be. Additionally, learning how the gun works allows you to customize its parts and pieces. For example, there is a wide variety of beautiful aftermarket Glock barrels that can significantly enhance your Glock’s aesthetics.
6. Practice Gun Control and Functions Without Live Ammo
To get well acquainted with a new firearm, we recommend practicing with the gun without live ammo. Follow the gun safety clearing procedures before handling the weapon to ensure it isn’t loaded.
Then, practice cycling the weapon, loading and unloading magazines, using the sights, etc. It’s also a good idea to invest in dummy rounds that the weapon can cycle. This way, you can practice with bullets that aren’t dangerous.
7. Practice With Live Ammo
Once you’re more comfortable with your firearm, go to a shooting range where you can safely practice with live ammo. Learning how the gun feels and sounds while being fired is absolutely essential. This is especially true if you bought the weapon for self-defense.
Shooting is not at all like it is on TV or in the movies. They never have to reload or aim, and they seem to be unaffected by the laws of physics.
Obviously, real life is not like this at all. Therefore, you need to spend hours upon hours at the gun range if you want to learn how to shoot safely and accurately.
8. Use the Proper Personal Protective Equipment
When using a firearm, one of the most important gun safety rules is to don the proper safety gear. Your range bag should include safety glasses and hearing protection.
However, you also need to dress appropriately for the range. Ejected round casings are quite hot.
If one goes down your shirt, it can burn your skin. Wear a shirt with a high collar to avoid this type of scenario.
Lastly, make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear. Flip-flops, for example, are not range-appropriate.
9. Learn and Follow the Rules of the Gun Range
Speaking of the gun range, different shooting locations have different rules. In most cases, you’ll be sharing the range with other gun owners. Whether you’re there to sight in a hunting rifle or practice with your concealed carry weapon, you need to be mindful of other shooters.
For example, never fire your weapon while there are people downrange. Even if they’re in another lane, they won’t appreciate you risking their safety. You might even get kicked off the range.
Some shooting ranges also dictate what type of guns can be fired at each individual lane or range. While it can be annoying, sharing a shooting range requires patience, self-awareness, and situational awareness.
10. Be Sure of Your Target and What Lies Behind It
When firing a gun, you need to understand the danger of every single bullet that leaves the chamber. For example, if you’re aiming at a target and miss entirely, what is in the background? Is there a berm or backdrop that will stop your bullet?
If you’re carrying a weapon for self-defense, you must always practice this awareness. Shooting at a trespasser in your home could send bullets through walls, into other rooms, or into your neighbor’s house.
11. Consider Taking a Firearm Safety Course
If you’ve never been trained with a firearm before, we highly recommend taking gun safety courses. They can teach you how to properly handle a weapon, along with the basic gun safety rules.
Furthermore, gun safety classes are sometimes required if you want to carry a concealed weapon. However, this law is broken down on a state-to-state level.
12. When Not in Use, Keep the Firearm Safely Locked Up
One of the most important rules of gun safety is learning how to store your firearms properly. Your nightstand or dresser drawer does not provide adequate safety and security.
The best way to store firearms is in a locking gun safe. This way, you can ensure your kids, their friends, or intruders won’t have access to your guns.
Just as importantly, use a gun safety lock. These mechanisms feed through the chamber of the weapon, making it impossible for the firearm to function.
13. Teach Your Children the Dangers of Firearms
Finally, as you can see from this article, your biggest strength in firearm safety is knowledge. However, gun safety knowledge shouldn’t stop at the gun owner.
If you have children or other house members, it’s imperative to explain the danger of firearms to them. Everyone in the house needs to understand that the gun is not a toy. Children need to understand how devastating firearm accidents can be.
However, if you’re going to have guns in the house at all, we also suggest teaching your children how to properly handle them. Take them to the range and let them fire off a few rounds safely. Alternatively, buy them BB guns or airsoft guns to learn weapon safety.
Is Gun Safety Important to You?
If you’re getting ready to buy a gun or already have one, remember the gun safety rules written above. We cannot overstate the importance of handling a firearm with safety. Making a mistake could cause regrettable consequences.
And if you’re looking for more lifestyle tips or advice, stick around for a while and check out some of our other articles. Our blog was created to provide a wide variety of information for readers like you.