Firearms education and safety are paramount to responsible gun ownership, and knowing/practicing the four basic rules of gun safety will give you the foundation necessary to prevent firearms accidents. While a quick internet search will turn up a plethora of gun safety rules, most experts agree that the same four top the list:
Always Treat Every Firearm As If It was Loaded
Never trust someone when they hand you a firearm and say that it is unloaded. Always check for yourself. The proper procedure to do this for a semi auto pistol is to first point the muzzle in a safe direction, then remove the magazine, and then rack open the slide and lock it open. Many people do not realize that the semi auto can still fire with no magazine, and that a round of ammo is still most likely chambered in the gun even after the magazine is removed. For a revolver, the procedure is similar. First point the muzzle in a safe direction and then swing the cylinder open and empty out any rounds in it. Of course it would be better to hand over, or have handed to you, a gun that is already unloaded and locked open. And please understand that gun safety cannot be over emphasized. Always treat every firearm as if it was loaded, even if you are positive that it is not.
Always Keep the Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction
What exactly is a safe direction? A safe direction means a direction in that the bullet could not possibly hit anyone under any circumstance. In other words, don’t point the gun at anything you aren’t willing to kill. Ever. While this may sound harsh, it is advice that should be well heeded and surprisingly challenging to remember. I’m not talking about pointing a gun to someone’s face like idiots do for “likes” on social media every day. It’s obvious you should never do that. However, have you given thought to the gun in your bedroom laying on the night stand pointed towards your child’s room? Or how you handle your gun on a daily basis when packing and unpacking it? It is easier than you think to shoot yourself in the foot or abdomen, or someone else you love across the room by simply moving your gun from one place to another. Again, gun safety cannot be over emphasized here.
Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until You Are Ready To Shoot
This sounds simple enough. Too bad the hand works like a unit and the index finger seems to make a bee line for the trigger. Every time. Your natural instinct is to do this, and it actually seems unnatural not too. You must make a conscious effort to keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire. There is no way the gun can fire a shot unless you pull the trigger. This is gun safety 101, and I get tired of hearing people in the media misleadingly claim that guns are the problem when negligence is the problem. While I used to have a bad habit of resting my finger on the outside of the trigger guard (not actually on the trigger), I finally found a way to ensure that my index finger always rests straight and high on the barrel of the gun. I simply fashion my hand into a “finger pistol,” then grip and pick up the gun that way. See the image to understand what I mean.
Always Be Sure Of Your Target and What Is Behind It
When you pull the trigger of any handgun, you cannot ever take back the bullet that leaves it. You must not only be sure of your target, but of anything else around or behind it. Most likely, even if you strike the target you are aiming at, the bullet will go through it and keep on traveling. That innocent little kid riding his bike down the sidewalk, the lady pumping gas in front of you, and even the guy at the stoplight across the street could unintentionally be hit by a bullet you fired even if you hit your intended target! Being aware of your surroundings is just as important to gun safety as the handling of the actual gun itself!
While there are plenty of gun safety rules out there, these four definitely need to stay on your radar. When I was young, I would actually recite these in my head before I ever picked up a gun. Maybe that was because in high school back in the mid 80’s we all took a gun safety course along with driver’s ed. The public school actually bused students to the range for live fire practice! I can still remember chanting these four gun safety rules as a group before anyone was allowed to pick up a firearm. My how times have changed. What hasn’t changed, however, is the necessity for these rules. Learn them, know them, and practice them.