Owning a gun is a big responsibility. If you don’t handle it properly and safely, you put yourself and others at risk.
Here are 10 essential gun safety rules you should follow:
1. Never point your gun at anything you don’t want to shoot
It’s tempting to put your guard down when you know your gun’s not loaded. But don’t. Treat your gun as if it’s always loaded and never point at anything you wouldn’t want to shoot. That way, you minimize the chance of a dangerous accident.
In most cases, pointing the gun down at the ground or up toward the sky will be your safest bet. Just be mindful of what’s there before you do.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire
As another safety precaution, keep your finger off the trigger unless you’re about to shoot. This way, you won’t release the trigger by accident. It’s good trigger finger discipline.
3. Know your target and what’s behind it
You should always know your target and what’s behind it. This is true whether you’re at a gun range or out in nature. Either way, you need to ensure your bullet won’t hit something it shouldn’t.
This is basic situational awareness. Not checking what’s behind your target is reckless and may put others’ lives or property at risk.
4. Learn how your gun works
Every gun is different. So familiarize yourself with how yours works before using it. For example, handguns and rifles require different methods of loading, unloading, carrying, and handling.
Study your owner’s manual to learn how your firearm works, and don’t shoot it until you have a complete understanding.
5. Don’t load the gun until you’re ready to use it
Keep your gun unloaded by default. When you’re ready to fire, open the action, inspect the chamber, and load the gun as instructed by the manufacturer.
When you’re done shooting, unload the gun and keep the ammunition in a safe place, separate from the gun. That way, it’s less likely to be used against your will.
6. Wear eye and ear protection
Guns are loud—so loud that they can cause hearing loss if you’re not careful. So wear ear protection. You’ll be glad you did.
Also, get shooting glasses to protect your eyes from ricochets and other objects. And have any spectators do the same.
7. Never handle a gun while drunk or high
This should go without saying, but never handle a firearm if you are drunk or on drugs. Being impaired dramatically increases the risk of an accident.
8. Regularly maintain and clean your gun
It’s easy for guns to accumulate dirt, grease, and oil. But this can prevent them from operating correctly and safely.
So make sure to clean your gun regularly. This will help clear the barrel of any obstructions. But remember to double-check that the gun’s not loaded before you start cleaning.
9. Don’t rely on your gun safety
A gun safety switch is meant to keep your gun from accidentally firing. But it’s not 100% accident-proof. Even with the safety switch turned on, any strong enough blow or jar could activate the firing mechanism.
So don’t rely on the safety. Treat your gun as if it could be fired at any time. A gun safety can’t replace common sense.
10. Don’t alter or modify your gun
Don’t alter or modify your gun unless you’re qualified to do so. Changes can make the gun more dangerous, void its warranty, or even ruin it altogether. Only allow an expert to make adjustments to your gun.
11. Store your gun in a secure place
Lastly, store your gun in a safe place where it’s inaccessible to unauthorized users, including children, guests, and criminals.
You can use a gun safe, cabinet, vault, or another storage case. Anything to keep your gun out of reach from others. And remember to store the ammunition in a separate location to minimize the risk of a gun accident.
Following these gun safety rules will help prevent injuries, lawsuits, and even death. If you are involved in a gun crime, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Otherwise, stay in control of your gun at all times. If you can do that, an accident is much less likely to happen.