There are approximately 393 million guns owned in the United States. Every one of those firearms has the potential to be dangerous. That’s why it’s so important every gun owner and gun user should understand critical safety rules when using a firearm.
Whether you’re a new gun owner or you’ve been shooting for years, there are several rules everyone should follow to keep themselves and others safe. Read on to learn more about the basic gun safety rules that save lives and prevent injuries.
The Importance of Following Basic Gun Safety Rules
Having a firearm on hand in case of an emergency or for hunting has clear, obvious advantages. Each year, an average of 38,000 Americans die from gun violence. Following a strict set of safety rules can prevent death and injuries.
One of the best ways to prevent injuries and death is arming yourself with knowledge. Familiarize yourself with all of the rules below to ensure you have as safe an experience as possible.
Enrolling in a gun safety training course is another great way to practice gun safety and learn more about how to use your gun in a safe way.
1. Keep Muzzle Pointed in Safe Direction
Of all the basic gun safety rules, this should be your number one concern. When you point a gun at a target or object, it means you are shooting with the intent to destroy. At that point, you should have checked your weapon, donned safety gear, loaded the gun, turned off the safety, and are fully ready to aim and shoot.
Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, such as down at the floor, prevents accidental discharge and injury. Unless you plan to shoot, never point your gun at anything.
What if the gun isn’t loaded? It’s best to treat every gun as if it were loaded, even after checking for bullets. Make it a habit to point a gun downwards and away from anything you don’t intend to shoot so it becomes second nature.
2. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not in Use
Unless you’re in the field or on a shooting range and are ready to fire, your gun should remain unloaded. When you’re finished shooting, unload your gun immediately and double-check the chamber and magazine for any bullets.
Remember to keep a loaded gun within sight at all times and try to keep it in your hands at all times. This will lessen the risk a child or adult picks it up and discharges it.
When storing your gun, it should be unloaded even if it’s locked away in a safe. When storing a gun, make sure it is locked in a cabinet that no one else can access, especially children. Try to store ammunition and guns in two separate locked safes as an added level of precaution.
3. Always Wear Eye and Ear Protection
Think about the last concert you went to. The music was probably pretty loud. Gunshots are almost 30% louder and the sound is coming from a much shorter distance away. Continued exposure to gunshots causes hearing damage which should be avoided at all costs. Earplugs and noise-canceling headsets are both great investments to make if you plan on shooting frequently.
Falling shot, target chips, powder residue, and cartridge cases can all rush towards your face when firing a gun. Always wear protective glasses to keep these objects and residues from harming your eyesight.
4. Treat All Firearms As If They Were Loaded
When it comes to dealing with firearms, it’s best to act like you’re dealing with a loaded gun even if you just unloaded it and checked the chamber. Accidents happen and being over prepared can save lives.
When handing another person a gun, always treat the gun as loaded. Point the muzzle downwards and never put your finger on the trigger. Avoid sliding a gun across a table or tossing it to a buddy or into a case. The force could cause the gun to fire.
5. Keep Your Finger Off Trigger Unless Ready to Fire
Your finger should never touch the trigger unless you are 100% ready to shoot. It’s easy to get startled and accidentally pull the trigger when you aren’t aiming at a target.
To avoid this unfortunate scenario, keep your trigger finger straight and outside of the trigger guard at all times. Keeping your finger away from the trigger also lets others around you know that you are not about to shoot and that it is safe to approach.
If you plan to run, jump, or climb it’s best to unload your gun. Your pants, a stray branch, or other objects could pull on the trigger. Even if you store your gun in a holster, take extra precautions if you find yourself needing to run or climb.
6. Be Certain of Your Target and What is Behind It
Unfortunately, humans don’t have the power to stop a bullet in mid-air. Before shooting a target, assess your surroundings. Are there any people walking around the woods where you’re hunting? Did a pet or friend wander behind your target?
Before you pull the trigger you need to be 110% sure your target is the only thing your bullet could possibly hit. Bullets can break through a target, ricochet, and beginners will often miss targets. Therefore, it’s necessary to make sure your shot has a clear endpoint just in case.
Before you pull the trigger make sure the area is still clear of people, animals, and objects that you should not harm.
7. Don’t Rely On Your Gun’s Safety
A gun’s safety is there for an extra layer of protection. It should never be the only precaution you take. There’s always a chance a safety could fail. If your finger is on the trigger and the safety fails, you could accidentally discharge the weapon and injure or kill someone.
View your gun’s safety as a supplement to your practice of handling a gun safely. To avoid harmful accidents, get in the habit of immediately turning the safety on as soon as you stop shooting. Always maintain control over the gun and be careful where you point the muzzle even if you think the safety is on.
8. Always Use the Correct Ammunition
Every firearm is designed to shoot a certain caliber bullet or type of ammunition. Using the wrong size or type can cause the gun to malfunction or misfire. These types of accidents can cause major injuries or death, so it’s important to know exactly which caliber bullet your gun needs.
Your owner’s manual and information found on ammunition boxes will help to ensure you’re using the right ammo. It’s also important to make sure you load the ammunition the correct way.
Follow the instructions in your manual or seek the assistance of a professional to be as safe as possible.
9. Familiarize Yourself with How Your Gun Works
Get to know your weapon as thoroughly as possible. Know how to load it, turn the safety on and off, disassemble, reassemble, clean, its range, and what type of ammunition it requires. The better you know your weapon, the safer you’ll be.
Different brands of guns will have different features, making it necessary to get used to each one. Handguns will require you to practice a certain grip. Rifles may have more accessories, like the AR 15 foregrip, that take time and practice to master.
If in doubt, consult a professional and practice until your actions are safe and you’re comfortable performing them. Most gun shops offer introductory classes to help you understand your firearm, teach you proper form, and show you shooting range etiquette.
10. Don’t Neglect Cleaning or Maintenance
Each time you fire your gun, residues collect in every nook and cranny. A clean gun prevents parts from sticking and possible malfunctions. Disassembling your gun to clean each part after every shooting session is a good practice that will also help you get more familiar with your gun.
If you regularly clean your gun and it begins to misfire or have other problems, you can eliminate residue buildup as a cause and diagnose the problem faster.
Which Basic Gun Safety Rules Did You Already Know?
Now that you know how to handle a gun and are an expert on basic gun safety rules, we hope you enjoy a safer experience every time you shoot. Following these simple rules will not only keep you safe but everyone else around you as well.
Want more super helpful articles? Be sure to check out more of our blog posts! We share new posts multiple times a month. To stay up to date on a variety of interesting topics from technology to healthcare to technology, bookmark our page today.