Ten Basic Gun Safety Rules
Russ Chastain 05.16.17
When it comes to guns, I think everyone agrees they can be dangerous. In some ways, that’s exactly the point of firearms, but most of the time, guns can and should be used in ways that cause harm to no one. Here are my rules for safe gun handling. You’ve seen some of them before, but I disagree with NRA on some key points.
1) Always Point a Gun in a Safe Direction
What else can I say? This one explains itself, and is the most important of all gun safety rules. As Dad told me when I was learning, “Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to shoot.”
2) Assume That Any Gun, Any Time, is Loaded
Your buddy hands you a gun, tells you it’s not loaded. What should you do?
Check to see if it’s loaded!
If your buddy is offended, maybe it’s time to find some new friends. Always check, even if it’s a gun that you believe that you handled last and you “know” it’s not loaded. Check it.
3) Don’t Touch the Trigger Unless You’re Shooting
It’s called trigger discipline, and it’s vital for safe gun handling: Unless you are firing a firearm, your finger should be OUTSIDE of the trigger guard. When you are carrying, fondling, caressing, loading, unloading, or looking down the sights of a gun, keep yer nose-pickers off of the trigger — always.
4) Know What You’re Shooting At
Before you fire a gun, be aware of where your bullet is going to travel — before, during, and after it hits your intended target. Do not get lax about this. Bullets often travel long distances, so you should strive to have a good, solid, safe backstop beyond your target to stop your bullets .
5) Get to Know Your Gun
You need to know how to run your gun. Loading and unloading are just the beginning. You need to know how to make it safe, how to deal with a jam or other malfunction, how to grip it, etc. Don’t step up to the firing line without knowing how to use your firearm; and if you are unfamiliar with it, it’s also wise to have someone nearby who is familiar with it.
6) Don’t Shoot at Hard Surfaces (Including Water)
What’s that, you say? Water isn’t hard? Well, that’s where you’re wrong; water is mighty dense, and bullets fired at the surface of any body of water are likely to glance off and fly on, rather than penetrating its surface. Of course, things like pavement, metal, rocks, and even hard wood can do the same. Bullets fired at them can be wildly unpredictable, and might even fly right back and hit you or bystanders. Don’t do it.
7) Don’t Rely on Safety Mechanisms
Many guns have switches, plungers, and/or levers on them, called safeties. Do not rely on them to make your firearm safe. The use of a safety is no substitute for safely handling a firearm, and be aware that some guns (largely Remington bolt-action rifles) have been known to fire when the safety is switched off! It’s a great idea to use a safety, but a bad idea to put your faith in it.
8) Load Your Gun
Even the NRA has long put forth the notion that your gun should be empty until you are ready to fire it. Folks, that’s nonsense.
When you’re hunting or defending your life and property, you don’t have time to pussyfoot around loading your gun. It needs to be ready to rock and roll all the time. So load that shootin’ iron and handle it safely.
9) Use the Right Ammo
This is a no-brainer, but people can be pretty gullible. Just because a cartridge seems to fit into your gun doesn’t make it safe to fire! The ammo you use needs to be suited to your particular firearm, and that info is probably marked on your popper. If in doubt, seek the advice of a qualified gunsmith (not the snot-nosed doofus behind the ammo counter who doesn’t know 45 Automatic Colt Pistol from 45 Colt).
10) Pay Attention!
Hey, a day at the range can be a lot of fun, and it’s easy to get distracted when you’re having a good time. This is when many mistakes with guns are made, and nothing ends fun faster than a negligent discharge, especially if it hurts or kills someone.
Keep your mind on what you’re doing, and don’t hesitate to correct other folks who might be getting careless. Their gun-handling affects you and everyone else around you, and in the end their goal is the same as yours: To have a good time and make it home safely without causing any harm.