The 4 Laws Of Firearm Safety

Anyone who handles firearms of any sort ideally knows the basics of gun safety, but you'd be surprised at how many accidents occur because someone thought that the rules didn't apply to them. Here are four universal gun safety "laws," which should be followed at any and all times while handling.

Treat Every Gun As If It's Loaded

treat every gun as loaded

Chances are everyone has heard this one dozens of times, whether from more experienced people while learning about firearms such as parents, hunter's safety instructors or firearms instructors at some point. There is a reason for it, which is because it's just good for staying safe.

While it is true that guns don't kill, but rather people pulling a trigger, it's beyond obvious that the risk posed by unsafe handling of firearms is grave. If aimed at a living target, bullets can do damage that may never be undone, including everything from crippling injury to rendering them non-living. This potential must be respected at all times.

That's really the key to gun safety, whether it's these four universals of gun safety, or other more specific areas, such as carrying. A carry pistol should be secured at all time, with a good holster and a good gun belt.

Treating a gun as if it's loaded, even if you know it's not, reinforces respect for a gun's capability to harm yourself or others. Furthermore, if you don't know if a firearm is loaded or not, treating one as loaded precludes a horrible accident caused by acting as if a loaded gun is not.

Never Point It At Something You Don't Want To Shoot

shoot only when you mean to

Another way to phrase this is to never aim or point at something you don't intend to shoot. The idea is that the muzzle should never be directed toward anything that you don't want a bullet to hit, be that an inanimate object or, more to the point, a person. Pointing a gun at someone or something in a cavalier fashion is not safe.

The idea is assume that a gun could go off at any time. While this is clearly not the case at all times, you want to take the precaution that it is, just in case it does. Accidental discharges happen, which is why the phrase "accidental discharge" exists. It's a thing because it happens. Therefore, you don't want anything or anyone valuable to potentially be in the line of fire.

Some people reading this probably took hunter's safety at some point. You know how instructors tell you to never pull a gun toward you by the muzzle? This rule would basically be what they're on about. The rules of safety apply equally as long gun or handgun tips for safe handling.

Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger...Unless You're About To Shoot

keep finger off trigger

You ever hear about the guy who accidentally shot someone because he had his finger on the trigger when it shouldn't have been? I heard that guy was a careless moron who ought to be taken out back and beaten with a hose. If you accidentally shoot anything or anyone, you are too.

Read that bit earlier on where it says a bullet can seriously damage things, be they living or otherwise? Same deal. You shouldn't put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire, largely because of what might happen if firing occurs before you're on target.

Keep your finger away from the trigger unless you know you're about to shoot. It's just a good idea.

Be Sure Of Your Target

practice aim

Lastly, be sure of the target that you intend to fire at. This means not only to be sure of the target itself, but also what's around it and behind it. Be aware of the entire proximity of the target.

Just like hunter's say not to fire on a deer unless you know there's nothing or no one in danger behind it, the idea is that you should be aware of where your bullets are going to go before you shoot.

This also involves respecting what your ammunition is capable of. Different rounds do different things. Full metal jacket rounds are some of the heaviest and slowest-moving projectiles, but they also penetrate deeper because they aren't made to expand. At moderate distances, they go through things.

That's why self-defense rounds and the better hunting rounds for rifles are expanding bullets. The projectile splits open and mushrooms once it enters the target, which is important for two reasons. Firstly, the this induces a greater amount of trauma than a through-and-through, so the person or creature making the threat - or the soon-to-be delicious quarry - is more likely to drop, and do so sooner. Also, anything or anyone behind it won't be hurt, because the bullet stays lodged where it hits.

Really, the idea is to keep the destructive potential inherent to firearms in mind. You'll be better off, as will anyone and everyone around you. That kind of mindfulness is something that everyone could use a bit more of.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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