common gun safety tips

Gun Procedures and Safety - Why?

Regardless of political, legal or social stances on firearms, there is nothing controversial about understanding and practicing gun safety — without it, lives are lost and innocent folks are injured.


The average gun owner tends to have a firm grasp on these topics, but it's important for both new and veteran gun owners to review the four universal rules of gun safety, how gun malfunctions occur, how and when to clean their handgun, how to keep children safe around guns and how to develop a combat mindset that firmly implements situational awareness.


Stay safe by implementing the tips below. Or, take the gun safety trivia quiz and see if you know some of the most common practices.


The Universal Four Rules Of Gun Safety


Jeff Cooper, praise be, popularized and advocated the four rules of gun safety to enforce the idea that a firearm and what it's capable of should be respected at all times.


The first rule is simple. Always treat a firearm as if it were loaded. If handed a firearm, if unholstering a firearm, if after shooting a firearm, always treat it as if it had the full capability of performing its intended task: lethally firing a projectile out of its barrel.


The second rule is also simple (do you see a trend here?). Never point a firearm at anything you're not willing to destroy. This is of course an extension of the first rule. Directing a firearm's line of sight toward any thing places it in danger of lethal damage.


The carrier's intent and training will ultimately be the cause of a firearm's use, and when it's pointed at someone or something, the gun owner will automatically be a threat to that which they're pointing a weapon toward. Be sure of when and where the firearm is drawn and directed, and why that is happening.


Unintentionally pointing a firearm at someone is called flagging, or a muzzle sweep. This is negligent behavior.


The third rule: be aware of what your target is, what's around it and what's beyond it. Bullets penetrate. That's their job. Some, like hollow points, expand and mushroom upon impact to create a larger wound channel, which shortens the length of their path.


Full metal jacket ammunition will penetrate through the target and that which is beyond it. Movies don't always do a great job of showing that. A bullet can pass through a wall, for example, and penetrate another target.


Stroll through any stock image website and you'll find people breaking rule four. Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire the weapon. No questions about it. Sure, some triggers have a longer and heavier pull that requires more effort.


That doesn't matter here. Until the gun owner is ready to direct their firearm's muzzle at a lethal threat and lawfully dispatch it, the finger should be off the trigger.


These rules are representative of an idea: the gun is controlled and manipulated by our actions, and through those actions are consequences. This is where training and range time comes into play.


Learn to control the trigger pull and the firearm overall with dry fire practice. The wall drill and the balance drill are a couple common methods of keeping the firearm steady, balanced and controlled while practicing firing without ammunition.


Understanding how and why a handgun fires and malfunctions is also an important gun safety measure to prevent unexpected injury.


Avoiding Gun Malfunctions, Negligent Discharges And Hangfires


Gun malfunctions happen. The entire system is a mechanical function between metal and explosive material.


There are common types of malfunctions.


Stovepipes occur when there is a failure to eject the casing from the firearm. A popular way to address this is the tap, rack, bang or tap, rack, and assess method.


A failure to feed ammunition from the magazine into the chamber can happen in multiple ways, often the issue being a faulty feed ramp.


Failure to fire means the firearm did not cycle through the necessary actions to eject the bullet from the barrel. It can happen with dud ammunition. The propellant, for some reason, is not properly or fully ignited. Or the ammunition cartridge is damaged. It can happen with a dirty firing chamber. It can happen with faulty magazines.


If the trigger is pulled and a round in the chamber does not leave the firearm, do not immediately look inside the barrel. This could be a hangfire. The propellant in the ammunition has not been properly ignited or delayed. Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, wait for about half a minute and safely, properly remove and dispose of the round in a secure location.


A squib load is another example of a failure to fire — it's when a round becomes lodged in the barrel and does not leave the handgun. Identifying it may be difficult in the heat of the moment, but the volume of the shot will be severely diminished and there may be a definitive click. A lighter recoil may be felt. Firing more rounds won't just force it out.


Stop firing and strip the handgun to remove the lodged round with the proper method. A catastrophic failure may occur, and if another round is fired it may potentially blow apart the innards of the handgun or otherwise compromise its structural integrity.


It may also compromise the structural integrity of your hand. Don't blow it up.


There are other types of gun malfunctions, like double feeding where another round of ammunition attempts to be fed into the chamber.


Handgun malfunctions may be avoided with maintenance and cleaning.


Another important aspect of gun safety is storage.



Use A Gun Safe To Prevent Unintended Firearm Use


A gun safe is a logical method of keeping firearms out of others' hands and preventing unintentional injury.


Data from 16 states from 2005 to 2012 indicate there were approximately 229 unintentional firearms fatalities of children aged 0-14 over that 8 year period.


gun safety facts

You know what can help keep firearms out of children's hands when you're not in control of them? A gun safe. Fireproof, foolproof, theft-proof, it's an indestructible tool to keep firearms secure and inaccessible to those who shouldn't be using them.


Not to pin the entire subject on child-death rates, but it is a serious consideration. If there aren't any children around, they will also keep the firearms from illegally being used against the owner.


Bottom line: a proper storage method for firearms is necessary. On the body, the storage method needs to enclose and protect the trigger guard to ward against negligent discharge. A good holster can be found for most places on the body.


Just remember: there are no accidental discharges — there are only negligent discharges. They may not be purposeful, but they can be mitigated.


The word "mitigated" is important here. Situational awareness and a combat mindset can help mitigate future conflict.


Situational Awareness And A Combat Mindset Are Gun Safety Methods


situational awareness

What's the best way to resolve conflict and unnecessary injury? Avoid it before it even occurs. Situational awareness is an extension of gun safety.


Gun safety is the proper way to act around and with a firearm to ward against otherwise avoidable firearms-related injury. Situational awareness, then, is understanding and perceiving one's surroundings and the various potential threats moving within and around the gun owner's immediate vicinity.


Properly identifying a lethal threat and the potential need to employ a firearm is a gun safety practice. Improperly brandishing a firearm by misreading a threat is unsafe gun practice.


Developing a healthy understanding of situational awareness is another gun safety practice advocated by Jeff Cooper. He identified four states categorized by color: white, yellow, orange and red. In ascending order, they measure one's awareness and resulting level of preparation for a lethal threat.




This brief overview is a touching stone for best practices. Learn more gun safety tips and procedures with these articles published by Bigfoot Gun Belts:

Jake Smith 

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.

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