It is wonderful to live in a nation that allows its citizens to own and operate firearms. On any given day, you can swing by your local gun store and pick one up with a few boxes of rounds and go have a great day at the range. The only downside to that is the lack of education built into the system. In many states, there is no need for you to become certified as a safe user of firearms before you can buy one. Combine that with what is seen in T.V. and movies, and many first time gun owners end up with a tool they know little about, which when we talk about guns, can be very dangerous.
So, what are some things to make sure that you and your family are safe, should you choose to own a firearm? The first thing every gun owner or shooter should know are the four firearms safety rules. There are variations of these four rules, but the basis and effect is the same.
1) Treat EVERY weapon as if it is loaded. It does not matter if you checked the gun, your friend says they unloaded it, or anything else. EVERY gun should be treated as loaded. If you do, then you will never be the guy/gal who says “Oh… I didn’t know it was loaded….”
2) NEVER point a weapon at ANYTHING you are not willing to destroy. When a bullet goes down range, it has a tendency to damage whatever is in its path. If the weapon is pointed in a safe direction, this limits the damage the bullet can do. This rule, however, is usually the hardest to follow for new users.
3) Keep the safety engaged until ready to fire. You should never count on the safety to always work; however, it is an additional safety feature that should be used and should remain engaged until your sights are fixed on the intended target and you are ready to fire.
4) Keep your finger clear of the trigger until ready to fire. The ultimate safety is your finger not pulling the trigger, so keep it straight and along the receiver, outside of the trigger guard, until you have sights on the intended target and the safety has been switched off.
If you follow these four rules, the odds of you accidentally shooting something you did not want to will be greatly reduced.
Storing Your Weapon
Ok, now you know how to handle a firearm in a safe manner. But what about storage? When the gun is not in your physical control, it should be locked away from children, thieves, and anyone else who may cause unwanted damage with such a powerful tool. There are a number of different types of safes and locks to accommodate just about any home or situation. Every gun owner should take full advantage the variety of options and be sure to have at least one.
When transporting a firearm, little is changed from storing it at home. If you are not using a particular weapon as a concealed carry gun, truck gun, etc… it should be locked up and secured whenever you transport it. The action should be locked open or have a chamber flag installed. This serves two purposes. Reason number one is that if you have to make a stop for any reason, your firearms will be as safe as possible while in the car. The second reason is, should you get pulled over by the police, it lets them know that you are simply transporting those firearms and it is unlikely that you mean to cause harm.
By following these rules and avoiding complacency, you will be able to enjoy shooting without the risk of accidental shootings.