27 Apr 10 Golden Rules of Gun Safety
Firearms have the potential to be dangerous. That’s why safety should always come first when handling a gun, and it’s in every gun owner’s best interest to take the “Golden Rules” to heart. We are reviewing those critical safety rules, and providing some additional information as to why they are so important.
Rule #1: Keep That Muzzle Pointed in a Safe Direction
This is a fairly simple concept, but it’s worth mentioning that accidents can happen. While the risks are relatively low, the potential for injury that could result from an accidental discharge is great.
With that in mind, you should always keep your gun’s muzzle pointed in a “safe direction,” and not allow it to point at anything you don’t intend to shoot. By “safe direction,” we mean one that would not allow for anyone to be hit by a projectile in the event of an accidental discharge, so you’ll have to get into the habit of knowing where your muzzle is pointing at all times, and always treat your firearm as if it is loaded.
Rule #2: Keep Your Firearm Unloaded When You Aren’t Using It
Unless you’re in the field or at the target range and ready to shoot, you should keep your gun unloaded and secure. Unloaded, by the way, means completely unloaded, with no ammunition in either the chamber or magazine. Never store guns while they are loaded, and be sure to keep your guns and ammo separately to avoid any mishaps.
Don’t assume that a gun is unloaded, even if you were the last person to use it — you should make it a habit to inspect firearms to ensure that they are empty whenever you hand them to someone and keep the actions open when they are not in use to maximize safe handling.
Rule #3: Don’t Just Rely on Your Firearm’s Safety
The safety on your gun is designed to prevent accidental discharges, but it’s mainly intended for unattended storage, and not meant for you to rely on while handling. It’s a good supplement, but you should stay vigilant and do everything within your power to minimize human error. That means keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, avoiding the trigger when loading/unloading your firearm, and refraining from pulling the trigger when the safety is “on.”
Rule #4: Know What You’re Shooting at and What Lies Beyond
Before you take a shot, you should be sure of both your target and what’s behind your target, as bullets can travel a long way and have the potential to pass through your target and strike what lies beyond. There’s a possibility for accidental injury if you fire without doing a proper visual assessment (for example, shooting reflexively at a noise or movement), so always check first, and be sure there’s something behind your target to stop your projectile’s movement.
Rule #5: Take Care With Ammunition
Simply put, you should always use the correct ammunition with your gun. Read your owner’s manual carefully so you understand what sort of ammo is and is not compatible with your firearm, and refrain from using improper loads. Inspect every cartridge you load into your gun, as using the incorrect ammunition comes with the risk of destroying your firearm and causing serious bodily harm.
Rule #6: Be Cautious in the Event Your Gun Fails to Fire After a Trigger Pull
Let’s say you pull the trigger on your gun, intending the shoot, but nothing happens. In this scenario, it’s time for you to exercise an extra dose of care, as there’s an increased potential for risk (remember, with a cartridge in the chamber, your gun is still ready to fire and could do so catching you unawares). Referring back to our first rule of gun safety, keep your muzzle pointed away from unintended targets, and keep your face clear while following the next steps. You’ll need to place your safety “on” and open the action on your gun. Then you’ll need to unload your firearm and dispose of that unfired cartridge in a safe manner.
Rule #7: Always Wear Your Protective Gear
Guns are loud. Beyond that, though, when you’re shooting, there’s always the possibility that gunpowder residue, debris from the field, or ruptured cartridge cases could damage your eyes. To avoid the potential for harm here, you should always wear protective gear, in the form of shooting glasses and ear plugs to guard your vital senses. Wearing eye protection extends beyond just firing your gun; you should also wear your shooting glasses when cleaning or disassembling your gun to protect against springs and cleaning agents from damaging your eyes.
Rule #8: Ensure Your Barrel is Clear Prior to Shooting
Obstructions in the barrel of your gun can cause it to fire improperly, and even lead to increased pressure within the barrel causing it to explode, resulting in injury. The appropriate countermeasure is to habitually clean your gun prior to firing, and checking for any blockages that could result in accidental injury. If, when firing your gun, you feel that something is “off” (weak firing, strange noises or recoil), then stop firing immediately and (safely) check that you don’t have anything obstructing your barrel.
Rule #9: Don’t Alter Your Firearm and Don’t Forget About Maintenance
Firearms can be complex in their design. Because of this, you should avoid modifying the mechanics of your gun, else you void the warranty and make it unsafe to fire. Leave the alterations and repairs to professionals, and remember that in addition to refraining from tampering with your firearm, you should have it inspected regularly, as you would any other delicate machinery. You guns can wear just like any other devices, and routine servicing will help maximize their lifespan.
Rule #10: Familiarize Yourself With How Your Gun Works
Guns differ in their designs, and some possess intricacies that may not exist on others, so it’s up to you to get to know your firearm in detail. Before you fire any gun, be sure to go over how you should handle, carry, load, and unload it safely. Your instruction manual will be of great benefit here, and you should make it a point to learn as much as possible about any gun you intend to shoot before you use it.
Shooting is a fun hobby, and one that you can enjoy safely — provided you observe the proper rules. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the critical tenets of firearms handling we’ve laid out above, and consider some hands-on instruction to get yourself comfortable with operating a gun correctly. For more information on the latter, feel free to drop us a line at Bellevue Gun Club and learn more about the range of training and classes we offer for those looking to hone their firearms knowledge.