There are quite a few new gun owners and if you are going to handle a firearm there are a few simple safety rules that must be followed. The NRA has rules, manufacturers have rules, heck, everybody has rules. What I would like to do is to give you one rule, let’s call it the Golden Rule, and then the NRA rules for safe gun handling. So here it is, my Golden Rule:
Treat Every Firearm As If It Is Loaded
Simple right? So you unloaded a firearm, now you can point it and pull the trigger. Heck no! The firearm is still to be treated as if it is loaded. If you follow that rule and handle every single firearm as if it is loaded it is impossible to have an accident. Guns do not spontaneously discharge. In the case of some long guns they may discharge if dropped with a round in the chamber, but most of the time the trigger is pulled or depressed by an object and that causes the discharge. So let’s take a look at the NRA rules:
- ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire
- ALWAYS keep the firearm unloaded until ready to use
Let’s break these down a little. If I always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction then even if the gun somehow magically discharged it would not hurt anyone. Since we know a gun cannot magically discharge, if I keep my finger off the trigger until I have my sights on target and I am ready to fire the gun will only shoot at the target. The last rule is key as well. If you are not using the gun, do not keep it loaded. I can see the eye rolls from people thinking about home defense. If you have a home defense gun then have it in a safe, secured location, pointed in a safe direction and ready to be retrieved for use. Otherwise keep them unloaded. An unloaded gun, with your finger off the trigger and pointed in a safe direction can never harm or hurt anyone. To me that boils down to treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
The NRA has some additional safe handling rules copied below.
Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.
Knowing the target and what is beyond is key, if it is not safe to shoot, do not shoot. So treat every firearm as if it is loaded, always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger and always keep the firearms unloaded until ready to use!