Gun Safety: The Most Important Thing in Firearms
**ALWAYS POINT THE MUZZLE IN A SAFE DIRECTION**
This is probably the most important safety rule. There would hardly be any firearm accidents if everyone practiced this rule. Never point your muzzle at something you don’t intend on shooting. At an outdoor shooting range, for example, the safest direction to point the muzzle when not shooting is likely at the ground.
Always maintain situational awareness of your surroundings and which direction your muzzle is pointed towards. Be in complete control of which direction you are facing at all times when holding a firearm. Remember that a safe direction means somewhere in which a bullet cannot strike anyone or anything of value, including ricochets and points of penetration like walls, glass, and ceilings.
A GUN SHOULD BE UNLOADED WHEN NOT IN USE
This is also a very important rule. There are many situations that may accidentally discharge a firearm. Someone else may not be aware that a gun is loaded when they decide to handle it. Firearms should be loaded when you’re ready to shoot at the target range or a designated shooting area.
Unload your firearm when you’re finished firing. You shouldn’t store a loaded gun in a car, building, or storage place (Concealment Tables work well). Don’t handle a loaded gun when performing awkward actions such as running, jumping, or climbing a fence or ladder.
Nobody should ever assume a gun is unloaded. Whenever you hand a firearm to someone, make sure to open the action and visually check that there isn’t any leftover ammunition in the chamber.
NEVER SOLELY RELY ON THE GUN’S SAFETY MECHANISM
The “safety” on a firearm is a mechanical device that can malfunction at any time, so never assume the gun won’t fire if the safety is “on”. Some guns, like certain HK Firearms, or Kel Tec Firearms, may not have safety options, this opens up a whole different can of worms.
The safety is merely a backup measure to common sense and proper firearm handling. Moreover, the safety may be switched “off” when you think it’s “on”.
Even if the safety is “on”, any sufficient force can accidentally discharge the gun without the trigger being pulled. So be careful to rest a loaded gun somewhere that it won’t fall or slide from its position.
KNOW YOUR TARGET AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
Don’t shoot unless you know precisely what you’re round is going to hit. You can’t control your shot after you’ve fired a gun. Make sure you don’t endanger anyone or anything beyond the target. Bullets of all rifle calibers can travel very far. Just be aware of anyone or anything that may be beyond your target and don’t fire at anything that moves or makes a sound.
USE CORRECT AMMUNITION
Read the instructions and manuals that come with your firearm and ammunition. Guns are designed and tested to standards based on specific ammunition. Cartridges of different caliber, gauge, or pressure can damage your firearm and cause injury. So be sure the ammunition you’re using matches your firearm’s specifications.
Discard of ammunition that is wet or has been submerged in water, as well as damaged or substandard ammo. Always examine your cartridges before loading your gun.
HANDLE YOUR FIREARM WITH CAUTION IF IT FAILS TO FIRE
Your gun may fail to fire when the trigger is pulled. When this occurs, point the muzzle in a safe direction and open the action while keeping your face away from the loading breech. Carefully unload the ammunition and discard it in a safe manner. Just remember, your gun is loaded when there’s a cartridge in the chamber and it can accidentally discharge at any time.
WEAR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT WHEN SHOOTING
It’s highly advisable to wear protective glasses and earplugs or earmuffs. Excessive shooting noise will damage hearing without protection, and eye protection will guard against debris, falling shot, and firearm malfunction. It’s advisable to wear eye protection when cleaning your gun too. There are many available options for personal protective equipment that can be found at any sporting goods store or online, so there’s no reason to go shooting without them.
CLEAR OUT THE BARREL BEFORE SHOOTING
Simply make sure that the barrel is clear of any obstructions such as dirt, mud, snow, oil, or grease before firing. It’s best to use a cleaning rod to clear out the barrel, but sometimes you can just blow through it to dislodge small debris. In the worst case scenario, small obstructions can cause the barrel to bulge or explode.
Once you feel ready to be safe with firearms, you’ll want to pick something reliable:
Check out our Guide to Popular American Handguns
Gun Safety With Kids
If you’re a parent, it’s crucial that you consider the safety of your children and understand the guidelines discussed in this article. You need to talk to your children about gun safety. As a parent, you play an important role in fostering safe practices within your household or anywhere a firearm is used near children. Repetition of lessons and safety procedures is key to getting your children to remember gun safety. It’s very possible that your child can come in contact with a firearm in your house, a neighbor’s home, when playing with friends, or during any circumstance that’s out of your control..
Remind your children to stop and consider the safety lessons you’ve taught them whenever they encounter a firearm.
Remind them to never touch a resting firearm that they may encounter. A firearm at rest is unlikely to fire if it’s not disturbed. Of course keeping your firearm locked away in a safe or some sort of firearm concealment furniture is a much better option than leaving it out. Just the same, they should know.
Remind them to run away or leave the area that they encountered the firearm. This will diminish their curiosity and temptation to touch the firearm.
Remind them to find an adult and report what they’ve discovered. The adult should be trustworthy, like a relative, teacher, or neighbor.
As a parent or guardian, you need to make sure that unloaded firearms stay out of reach of anyone who isn’t supposed to handle them. It’s also very important to store ammunition separately from firearms. Make sure your children understand the dangers associated with a real gun. By enforcing these guidelines, you are doing your part as a responsible parent who ensures the safety of your children.