Firearm Safety: 8 Rules for Safe Gun Handling

Gun safety continues to be a hot topic around the world. It seems like another mass shooting appears on the news every week in this country and around the world. No matter where you stand on the topic, everyone can agree that firearm safety is something that needs to be taken seriously.

Handling a firearm is a serious responsibility. Whether you are a new or an experienced gun owner, anyone who handles a gun must know how to operate it with safety in mind. Both gun operators and those around them can be at risk for severe injury or even death if they do not follow the proper safety precautions. 

When you are handling a firearm, there are universal safety rules that must be followed to minimize the risk of an incident. In this article, we will highlight eight cardinal rules of gun safety that can keep you and your family safe.  

The Cardinal Rules of Firearm Safety

Always assume a gun is loaded. Why? Because assuming a gun is not loaded is precisely how many gun-related accidents occur. Even if you are sure there is no ammunition in the chamber, you should always visually check to verify. Responsible gun operators will always unload a firearm when not in use.  

Don’t point your gun at anything you do not want to shoot. Accidental shootings can be significantly reduced if operators take care to point the muzzle away from people, animals or anything they do not intend to kill. If a discharge does occur unexpectedly, there will be a higher chance of avoiding serious injury. It is critical to keep in mind what is beyond the trajectory of a bullet. Whether a purposeful shot or not, bullets can travel through walls and floors, ricochet and cause injury to other people.   

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Prevent accidents by making it a habit to keep your finger resting on the side of the gun, rather than on the trigger. This one habit alone can help you avoid accidental discharges that result in injury.

Keep your gun maintained and serviced. You probably wouldn’t go on a road trip with a car that hasn’t been serviced in years. So, why would you use a gun that hasn’t been adequately cleaned or maintained? If you are unsure of how to do this yourself, consult a professional gunsmith to inspect, clean and adjust your firearm.

Never leave your gun unattended. Do not risk a child, inexperienced family member or criminal taking possession of your firearm. Have a system in place for securing and storing your gun. Taking extra precautions can mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Wear eye and ear protection. Whenever you shoot a gun, take precautions to protect yourself. Some of the most common usage injuries from shooting a firearm include hearing loss and eye damage. Guns are very loud and repeated firing without ear protection can lead to severe hearing loss in the future. Firearms also emit particles and gas that can cause injury to your eyes and vision loss.

Use the correct ammunition. Guns are not meant to be used with just any type of ammo. Check the owner’s manual or the barrel of the gun to learn which kind of ammunition should be used with your firearm. Using incorrect ammo could result in damage to the gun or injury to yourself or others.

Never use a gun under the influence of any substances. The misuse of a firearm can result in serious consequences. Under no circumstances should a gun be used by someone who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other substance that impairs judgment. Even the most experienced gun users can make a mistake when drugs or alcohol cloud their thinking.

Firearm Safety is Your Responsibility

No matter if you are at the shooting range or in your home, safety should be your number one priority when handling or operating a firearm. Besides following these cardinal rules of firearm safety, many hunting and shooting classes are available to teach you how to be safe when using a firearm. It is your responsibility to know how to operate your gun and keep it secure for the safety of yourself and your family.   

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