Every year thousands of people, from children to adults, are injured or killed due to improper use, handling, or storage of firearms. Not only does this not have to be so, it is often being used as ammunition in the fight to strip away our unalienable right. Firearms misuse and mishandling have always been one of the forerunners of the push for restrictive gun laws and until we can get every gun owner to be more cognitive of the basics of firearms safety and use it will continue to be. Of course this is entirely worthy of it owns article but I digress and will get back to the subject at hand.
We can get all technical and go into deep deep details about each item but for this piece we are just going to highlight them in a short sentence or two.
First, The Four Basic (and Most Important) Fundamental Rules of Firearm Safety:
- ALWAYS Treat Every Firearm As If It is LOADED and READY to Fire. Even if the magazine is out or the cylinder looks empty, always assume a cartridge could still be chambered
- ALWAYS Point the Muzzle in a Safe Direction. Never point a firearm at something you aren't willing to destroy either purposely or by accident.
- ALWAYS Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until You Are READY to SHOOT. If you are NOT ready to kill or destroy whatever it is you are going to be pointing at, your trigger finger should be off the trigger and outside the trigger guard and pointed straight until you are 100% sure of what you want to kill or destroy it.
- ALWAYS Be Sure of Your Target and What is BEYOND It. Always assume the bullet will go through your target and hit what is behind it and even behind that.
Other Very Important Things to Be Safe and Responsible with Your Firearms
- ALWAYS Wear Ear and Eye Protection. Guns are Loud, Very Loud. Even a .22 in the wrong setting can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage or loss. Malfunctions can and do happen... it's not a matter of if but when. Be prepared and always assume there is a chance of a catastrophic malfunction or chance for debris or bullet fragments that could blow back in your face.
- ALWAYS Know Where Your Firearm Is and Who Can Access It. If your firearm is not going to be physically on you somewhere... SECURE IT. This one is always a hot debate among owners. The simple fact is that if you have children anywhere around, secure it (it is now Nevada Law). Even if you don't have children around secure it if you leave your home (and even if you are home). Plenty of stolen firearms end up in the wrong hands because they were stolen and plenty of firearms owners have had their own gun used against them.
- NEVER Leave Your Firearm Alone in the Car. Just like leaving it unsecured in your home when you leave, it is the perfect opportunity for someone who shouldn't or can't get a firearm to get one. If ultimately you have no other choice and you must... make sure you use a safe designed to be used in a vehicle and that it is properly hidden and secured to the vehicle.
- ALWAYS talk to your kids about firearms (even if you don't have any). Teach them about them, teach them how to use them, and teach them to never touch them unless absolutely needed for self-defense. Lay down some strict ground rules on when and how to do so. BE CLEAR to them how dangerous they are and what happens when they are improperly used. They are not toys and not for show or tell and that no one (even their bestest friend) needs to know you even have them.
- ALWAYS Know the Ins and Outs of Your Firearm. Learn how it operates, learn how it works/operates. Learn how and when to clean and maintain it.
- LEARN Proper Grip, Stance and Sighting. Holding your firearm correctly while using the right stance and knowing how to properly aim for targets at different distances is key to properly using your firearm.
- LEARN When to Properly Draw/Use Your Firearm. Knowing when you should legally draw your firearm will not only keep you out of jail but can save your life and the lives of possibly innocent people.
- LEARN to Use Your Firearm While Under Duress. Shooting at the range and shooting to save your life, the life of a loved one, or the life of someone else are completely different situations that invoke completely different physical and emotional responses that greatly differ from when shooting at a static target at the range. Breathing, Nerves, Movement and more all change when faced with different and highly stressful situations.
- ALWAYS Ensure You Use the Proper Ammunition for Your Firearm. Using the wrong cartridge can have devastating consequences.
- BE WEARY If You Pull the Trigger and Nothing Happens or Your Gun Sounds Different From Previous Firings. Delayed Discharges (aka Hang Fires) or Squibs are Deceiving and Can Be Deadly. If your Firearm seems to fail to fire and it has not clearly malfunctioned, wait several seconds before moving your muzzle off target. If it fires but sounds more like a firecracker than an explosion, CHECK YOUR BARREL. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT Look down the muzzle of the barrel... Remove the barrel or Upper Receiver (If possible) and look up the barrel (from the chamber side to see if you see light on the other side. If not you most likely have a bullet stuck in the barrel (aka squib). Firing down a barrel without a bullet stuck in it will have a devastating consequence.
- ALWAYS Use a Holster for Your Pistol. Leaving the trigger out in the open is asking for trouble while not having it tightly secured to you asks for even bigger trouble. Having the trigger out in the open, especially while in your pocket or in waistband, leaves it open to be engaged by accident. Same can be said if leaving it out laying around. A holster with proper retention and with proper clips (or other way to secure it to your body) negates the chances of your firearm falling out or being easily stripped from you.
- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED You Use a Sling of Some Sort for Rifle and Shotguns. Using one means not having to set it down on the ground or standing it up where it can be grabbed, kicked, or stepped on. It will allow to use both hands without having to fumble with it and will keep it securely connected to your body.
There is so much more we could probably list but these are some of the most important that we think every gun owner should know and follow. I am sure we may have missed one or two but I am sure some of our more experienced owners and firearms instructors who follow us may chime in and fill in what we missed. We will gracefully update this article as they do or ask us to.
Until Next Time... Remember...
Be A Safe and Responsible Firearms Owner
Be Prepared | Be Informed | Get Trained | Stay Trained | Have Fun!