When it comes to firearms, safety is a pressing concern. The raw power that a gun wields is what appeals the weapon to so many people, and what scares so many people about them.
Those of us who spend a lot of time around guns have a tremendous amount of respect for them. That respect is what keeps us alert to its danger, and what keeps us safe.
There isn’t any wiggle room for error when it comes to guns. That is why it’s drilled into your head from day one the importance of safety.
Disregarding the safety rules with the stove will only result in a burned digit. The results of a firearms accident are much more dire. To keep yourself and the people around you safe, you have to follow these rules 100% of the time.
That is why there are multiple rules to keep in mind. At any one point, just following one of these rules might be enough to keep you safe. However, to be sure that you are safe 100% of the time, you must follow all of them every time. Think about how difficult that 100% assurance is in the real world. We’ve been walking and talking our entire lives, but we still occasionally stumble over our words and our feet.
So, to be sure that you are always safe, be sure always to follow these four gun safety rules.
Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
That means all guns, all the time. Whenever you are handed a firearm, it is imperative that you check to make sure that it isn’t loaded. Any gun could be loaded, and it only takes one bullet, one time to create life-changing consequences.
Getting in the habit of checking helps ensure that you are never guessing if a gun is loaded or not. You know if it is or not for a fact.
The reason to be so wary of what you are doing with the gun isn’t just about whether it is loaded right now, it’s about your habits too. If you are always safe with a gun, no matter what, then that won’t change once the rounds go in. The reverse is true. If you are careless when the gun isn’t loaded, you will continue to be careless when it is.
When your mind wanders, your habits will influence your motions. It will be your habits that determine how safe you are.
Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy
Whatever a bullet hits at velocity; it’s going to damage. People and objects need to be clear of the barrel at all times. If the barrel isn’t pointing at someone, it’s impossible for them to be injured in the case of an accident.
The rule applies to every single action you take with the firearm. Setting up to shoot at a range, loading, reloading, shooting, showing clear, and evening putting the gun down have to be intentional.
That means always pointing the gun downrange, and away from people. That means pointing it at the ground or in the air if the area is busy. Long guns especially should only be pointed either straight up or down in addition to never being loaded until they are going to be used.
This comes down to habit too. You need to learn situational awareness. When that gun is in your hand, you have the potential to damage whatever the barrel is pointing at. If you are in the habit of never pointing it at someone in the first place, they will be in much less danger if an accidental misfire ever occurs.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target, and you have made the decision to shoot
One flick of your finger is all it takes to set a gun off. It is only a couple of pounds of pressure that stands between a gun firing or staying silent. That being said, guns do not go off by themselves. They are not activated by without your input.
When you are holding a firearm, you are responsible for it. You decide when it goes off. You need to develop your situational awareness and make an informed decision about whether or not you want the possibility of the gun going off. Always keep your trigger finger straight and resting along the side of the firearm until you are ready to shoot.
People who are new to guns will often have the habit of picking up the gun with their finger resting on the trigger. It feels natural, but you are opening the door for accidents. Along with your trigger finger, keeping the safety on until you are ready to shoot is paramount as well. You want to be confident that the gun will not go off until you intend it to.
Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
As you are responsible for when the gun goes off, you are also responsible for whatever the gun hits downrange. There is always the possibility that you will miss your target, and the bullet will go flying into the background. A bullet also has a lot of energy, and will often go through whatever you are aiming at.
You need to develop the situational awareness to know what you are aiming at and what is behind it. A bullet can travel for miles if it doesn’t hit something. You need to be sure that it won’t hit anything you don’t want it to hit, and you need to be sure that the bullet will be stopped before it encounters anything it shouldn’t. That’s why you can’t shoot in cities. That is why shooting ranges have embankments or have you shoot into a hillside.
This is also why shooting at night is also discouraged. When it’s dark, you still need to see what you are aiming at. That’s why having a light mounted onto your gun is important if you are going to be shooting at night.
These four rules are simple and effective. They work best when they become a habit for you. Following good habits that include safe handling of a gun at all times is the best defense you have against any accidents. Almost all mishaps occur because one of these four rules wasn’t followed.