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Firearms Safety 101 | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Firearms Safety 101

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.

Firearms Safety
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.

Gun Safety Rules1)      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.

Seth Belt

Seth grew up in Southern Arizona before joining the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, Seth was an anti-narcotics operator and an anti-submarine operator for 5 years. He was lucky enough to travel to many of the Central and South American countries, as well as visiting many South East Asian nations and islands. One of Seth’s greatest joys from his time in the Navy was teaching new Sailors firearms education and safety. After leaving the Navy in 2010, Seth returned to Arizona and had a rough time learning how to be a civilian again, often working jobs that could barely pay the bills. After going to school, Seth became an Emergency Medical Technician in the Phoenix Valley, where he now lives with his wife and son.His areas of knowledge cover military, firearms, and emergency medicine.
Seth Belt
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11 thoughts on “Firearms Safety 101

  1. Good article Seth. I teach the NRA Basic Pistol Course in Southeastern Connecticut. I use a toy gun and start out by placing it in the student’s hand and observe their handling of that toy. Right there is where I start laying the foundation of proper handling. It is important to get those techniques correct fro the start. The human brain seems to want to remember what it learns first ( an aviation training concept) so getting it right from the start is important. Remarkably, once you practice the correct safety techniques it becomes easy to do as long as you always make yourself focus on paying attention when you handle firearms. From what I’ve read and studied, distractions are often the cause of breakdowns in following the safety rules.

    1. Thanks, David! The use of dummy guns or toy guns is a great point. When I taught firearms for the navy, we used those red and blue guns to work on 75% of what they needed to learn. With the availability of toy guns that shoot plastic BB’s, you can 90% of the training. A friend of mine tapes a laser pointer on and then tapes it to the bottom of the toy gun. If the laser hits something it shouldn’t, the student gets push-ups. Thanks for your input!

  2. Great article. I passed it on to a prospective new shooter. I would like to add one correction if I may. I’d change the first sentence from:

    “It is wonderful to live in a nation that allows its citizens to own and operate firearms.”

    to:

    “It is wonderful to live in a nation that recognizes our unalienable right to own and operate firearms.”

    The U.S. government does not ‘allow’ me my 2nd Amendment rights. They merely recognize them.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the article and found it worth sharing. One of the other commentors (and author on this site) made similar remarks about the recognition of the right to carry a firearm and I have to agree with you both. It would have been better to write that it is recognized by our government that we have this natural right, vs our government giving us this right. Thank you for your input and thank you for sharing this piece with others

  3. When I began teaching my daughter to handle firearms, it was at the most basic level. Actually, she got her started helping clean them, learning the parts – after having safety drilled into her extensively. I used the NRA’s Eddie Eagle DVD and to this day she can recite the rules both to that and for proper firearms handling. Since she is only 11 now I continue to sit in the truck and have her repeat the rules of safe handling every time before we shoot, whether at a range or outdoors. Her gun handling is safer than many of my supposedly more experienced friends (some of whom I won’t shoot with anymore because of that).

    I agree, David, muscle memory/habit is extremely important. I look at the way I was originally taught to shoot as a cautionary tale – although nothing bad ever happened, it could have. Proper training is a must, and I’ve probably taken it to the nth degree with my daughter.

    I love reading your firearms pieces, Seth, anything about guns I stop to read. I do want to add two things, though. Although I understand the safety remark you’ve got for your number three, as someone who owns quite a few Glocks, I do think the real safety is your finger, and keeping it off the trigger (your number four). I know several people who fail to respect or care about their backstop, just assuming their rifle round won’t accidentally hit the wrong thing as it travels its ballistically allowed number of miles through a field/forest/whatever.

    The one other thing I’d say is our Second Amendment rights are not “allowed.” As James Madison penned it, our rights “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It’s a centuries-old, unalienable right, not a treat our government “lets” us have because they’re feeling gracious today. I know what you meant; there are certainly countless examples of countries where firearms are banned (and one might note the bad guys still get them and the not-as-ingenious bad guys just find creative ways to kill the unarmed law-abiding citizens). But it is absolutely our right, one being slowly chipped away at, which is disturbing to see.

    I’m hoping you have some more gun pieces coming along here, I’ll be keeping an eye out!

    1. Loved what you said, Katherine, about 2nd Amendment Rights!!!!! I might look into providing the Eddie Eagle video to my adult students for their NRA class.

      1. It’s a great learning tool, honestly I can see applications for it not only with kids but with adults who aren’t gun savvy and/or don’t care to be. I kept my DVD and I’ve used it with my daughter’s friends (with parental permission, of course). They’re about as likely to see an uncontrolled firearm around my home as a snowball in Hades, but it really is a valuable lesson.

        Seth, thank you, it’s nice of you to say re: my bio. It’s definitely more than a job, it’s my passion.

    2. Thanks Katherine for the support. You brought many great points. Knowing what is next to and beyond your target is very important. I own a Springfield XD so keeping the safety on is not an option for me as well, thus the trigger finger comment. Those four rules are straight out of the Navy firearms training pub and are designed for the M9 and the 1911, so I guess updating them a bit for guns like the XD and Glocks is in order. Perhaps changing number three two being aware of the targets surroundings and lumping the trigger finger and safety together?

      It makes me happy when I hear of parents who teach their children about firearms and how to be safe with them. Double that for women who understand that shooting is not a “man” thing.

      As for the right to own firearms, you are 100% right. It is every persons right to be able to defend themselves with the best tool available and not up to the government to decide what those tools are. I am just happy to live in a nation that was founded by people who felt the same way. Now, if we can just get back to that line of thinking, increase firearms education, and restore these rights to the whole country, that would be great.

      Thanks again for your awesome words. After reading your bio, they mean a lot to me. I hope to have a new article up about shooting nest week. I hope you like it!

      1. I think the NRA rules are the best to follow. They apply just about anywhere; at the range, in your garage when cleaning, when teaching a gun safety class, when you carry concealed away from home, etc.

        The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:
        1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
        2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
        3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

        If I prepare my gun for home defense or concealed carry – I load it then because it is “ready to use” from that point on. All other times, I empty it by clearing it and checking it empty.

        There is kind of a fourth rule, which applies when doing controlled shooting at a range:
        “rule” 4. Know your target and what is beyond.

        If I’m at the range, this rule applies. If I am defending my life, I will not hesitate, unnecessarily. I might try to find other options however, if I am in a crowded mall, theater, etc. But even then, priority is to stop the bad guy and limit the damage he can cause.

  4. I saw a typo in mine and started hunting for “edit” myself. Ah well. I do love the NRA teaching way; I’ve been a card-carrying (yep, I really have it in my wallet lol right next to my CPL) member for many years. I, myself, would not have the patience for full-time instruction, so I think it’s impressive it’s something you do. I know I myself don’t make the easiest student, and I was thrilled when I found one that was a good fit (a long time ago). Disappointed the NRA kids event here was canceled this fall, I’d been looking forward to it in a one-time instructional capacity (they needed volunteers). More power to you, David, teaching. Not something I could do!

  5. It’s really good that more people have started to enroll in firearm safety classes, it will really help this country. More woman in particular are learning how defend themselves and those around them with a firearm. The more people participate in this kind of thing, the safer this country will be, and the more fun we will be able to have with using recreational firearms.

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