Firearms are excellent tools for both personal defense and recreation. Having a good working knowledge of gun safety rules is an part of being proficient. Unfortunately, many web sites and Internet forums default to “humorous” safety tips and rules or worse, things that are simply unsafe. Here are a few gun safety rules and tips to think about as a responsible gun owner. Before we talk about tips you need to know and understand the Four Universal Safety Rules. There are variations on the theme, but Jeff Cooper is generally credited with distilling these down to the key elements to creating a safe gun owner. These apply to any firearm.
Gun Safety Rules
1. Treat every gun as if it was loaded.
Do not ever do anything with an unloaded gun you would not do with a loaded one.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
The bullet will go in the direction the gun is pointed. If you do not have a reason to point a gun at something – Don’t.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Guns do not shoot themselves. If your finger is not on the trigger modern firearms will not discharge.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Not just beyond it, but around it as well. Bullets do not stop simply because you didn’t hit what you aimed at.
Notice, I did not mention safeties. Much of the military teaches keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire. Many modern handguns do not have external safeties. They are all mechanical devices – and like all mechanical devices, they have a failure rate. If you adhere to the four core safety rules, you make a mechanical safety irrelevant.
When using a firearm that has mechanical safety, use it in addition to the four gun safety rules – but don’t rely on it to keep you safe.
Gun Safety Tips:
Gun Safety Tip # 1 – Keep your weapon maintained.
Proper cleaning of a weapon means it shouldl function as designed. Read the owner’s manual and what the manufacturer recommends as far as cleaning products, schedule and procedures. Some guns need more cleaning than others and some ammunition can create more residues. Keep the gun properly lubricated as well. Malfunctions due to improper maintenance, bad ammo or worn parts can contribute to safety problems with a gun.
Gun Safety Tip # 2 – Use the proper ammunition.
Most factory-produced ammunition is adequate for your training purposes. Reloaded ammunition is also an option, but consider the source and reputation of the product. Unlike factory ammo, there are no standard testing or safety criteria for home re-loads. Improper powder loads, bad crimping, and unchecked measurements can lead to poor round performance, squibs and worse.
If you are looking at cost savings as a factor, remanufactured ammunition from a reputable dealer is a safe bet. I recommend making and using your own reloads over a strangers. Again read your owners manual, some manufactures do not recommend +p ammunition and warn that it will increase wear. This may be an important consideration in gun selection and training, especially when considering a defensive carry gun. We don’t recommend your personal ++P home brew for defensive carry as it is a liability nightmare to shoot someone with your own hopped up ammo. From a safety perspective, a catastrophic malfunction from bad ammunition can cause serious injury to both the shooter and others.
Gun Safety Tip #3 – Train properly, develop safe habits
Building proper habits and proficiency is the hallmark of a responsible shooter and gun owner. You must create an environment where gun safety is a habit, not an after thought or decision. Placing your finger on the trigger is a decision. Maintaining muzzle awareness, trigger discipline and situational awareness consistently can only be done with proper practice and realistic training goals. Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent.
If you build improper habits, you will do improper procedures. It stops being fun when a preventable accident occurs. You are the one responsible for gun safety. Familiarity can breed contempt, and I have seen more than a few professionals, military and other wise, do stupid things with guns. Why? Because they take it for granted. Teach your friends and family the good habits you have learned and only train at ranges that promote gun safety.
Load and unload your gun the same way, in the same sequence every time. Do it the point where you can’t get it wrong and build the habit of a thorough inspection of the chamber and magazines well in to the process. That one habit alone would prevent a number of negligent discharges from occurring.
Gun Safety Tip #4 – Store your gun properly
Once you own a gun, you are responsible for gun safety. Period. A gun will not fire by itself, but an improperly stored gun is unacceptable. In some states it is a crime, but it is a moral responsibility of every gun owner to protect their gun from thieves and keep it out of the hands of children. In 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control, there were 62 unintentional gun deaths for children under the age of 14, and 667 nonfatal injuries. Twenty-eight states have laws requiring safe storage, but the implications of a child or criminal obtaining your firearm due to negligence is the owner’s fault.
Understand and be in compliance with the law in your state, but if your state has no guidelines, here are few thoughts. A gun should be under your control or stored properly at all times. Teach your family the rules of gun safety. Children are curious and will find ways to get where they are not supposed. Take away the curiosity, then teach them to respect it – and make sure your guns are secure. Look into programs like the Eddie Eagle program from the NRA for young children and read Teaching Kids to Shoot for more information.
Gun Safety Tip #5 – Wear proper protective equipment
Proper eye and ear protection will save you a lot of pain and suffering later. Ranges should require them to be worn and often provide protection for you. Gunshots can range from 140 to 180 decibels, and levels at which damage to your hearing can occur. Eye protection will prevent brass, particles or lubrication from damaging your eyes. It is particularly important when you are shooting at steel targets where fragmentation of the copper jacket of the bullet can bounce back. Rarely does this break skin, but your eyes are a different story.
Hats with a brim are helpful for both sun protection and the stray piece of hot brass. I do not recommend wearing sandals on the range. Hot brass tends to find the space between your toes as a nice place to land. Long sleeve shirts and pants are a good choice. Gloves can be worn when you’re shooting, especially if you expect to be wearing them when you have to use your firearm – like in the winter. Practice for the conditions you expect to experience.
Practicing gun safety is the responsibility of anyone handling or owning a firearm. Gun Safety should be thought of and practiced continuously. You can never be too familiar or proficient at it. Using tips like these can help you and your family be responsible gun owners.
~ Aegis Academy Staff
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