When it comes to hot-button topics in society, there are few that compare to guns. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, there’s no denying that gun ownership is on the rise in the United States. In 2016 alone, the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) ran 27.5 million gun-related background checks, a whopping 4.4 million more than the previous record year. It is estimated that in the US there are 88 guns for every 100 citizens. With guns being so prevalent in American society the inherent risk associated with guns also rises. Potentially, large portions of these gun owners have never been properly taught how to safely handle a firearm. Others who may be considering purchasing a gun for the first time may be nervous because they don't know the proper safety measures.
Thankfully, firearm safety rules are relatively simple and easy to learn and can be summarized in just a few general concepts. One fact to understand is that gun safety is something that is accomplished through layers. Each basic rule is crafted in such a way as to overlap another so that in the event one rule is forgotten or skipped, a different one will help to protect people from harm. Gun safety rules are also useful across the entire spectrum of guns. This means these rules can be applied to a handgun in the same manner that they are applied to a shotgun. So, whether you're brand new to the world of firearms or someone who owns and has fired many different guns, the following gun safety rules will come in useful.
This is where safe gun use begins. Each and every time you pick up a weapon for any reason you should inspect it. Verify that the weapon is on safe, inspect that there are no bullets loaded, and then give the weapon a visual inspection for any sort of flaw or defect that could indicate that the gun is unsafe to use. During this inspection, be sure to utilize all the gun safety rules such as keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction and keeping your finger off of the trigger.
When it comes to gun safety, it doesn't get much simpler than this. When handling a firearm for any purpose? shooting, cleaning, or just inspection, ensure that the barrel is oriented away from people. Following this rule can mitigate a number of potential dangers. For starters, you're going to make those around you feel a lot more comfortable than they may tend to be if you were pointing a gun at them. It also adds to that layer of protection, so if the firearm were to malfunction, or if it was loaded without the user's knowledge, no one would be hurt if it was accidentally discharged.
An excellent caveat to keeping your weapon pointed in a safe direction is this rule: only aim at things you want to shoot. The bottom line is this, every time you transition from a position of safely carrying a gun to actually aiming it at a target you should do so with the understanding that you may be about to pull the trigger. Maintaining this mentality is another layer of protection because it means that before you even begin the act of aiming the gun you are considering the reality that wherever the barrel points is where a bullet will be going.
This rule is, unfortunately, one of the most commonly broken rules, even for experienced shooters. When you are not actively engaged in the process of shooting, your finger should not he on the trigger. During movement and any other time you are carrying a weapon the recommended technique is to keep your shooting finger, or 'trigger finger', extended straight and running parallel along the side of the gun. This method accomplishes two things first, it prevents your finger from entering the trigger assembly area accidentally. Secondly, your extended finger is easily visible against the weapon which lets other people around you know that you are in a non-engagement posture.
A simple reality about firearms is that without ammunition they become nothing more than tools for blunt force trauma. This is an important facet of gun safety because without bullets in the gun nothing gets shot Whenever a gun is not being used it should not be loaded. The last thing you should do after you have finished shooting is to remove all sources of ammunition feed as well as check the gun's chamber to verify that no round seated in the barrel waiting to be fired. Then place the gun in a safe location until it is ready to be used again. In addition to this rule, you should still treat every weapon as if it is loaded. Just because you removed the bullets from the gun it doesn't mean you can break all the other gun safety rules. Keeping these rules at all times maintains those layers of protection that we've mentioned already, as well as helping to build good muscle memory and habits for the times when the gun is operational.
A final takeaway is that true gun safety is more than just a set of rules that you should abide by. Gun safety is a mindset. Knowing the proper safety procedures is definitely important, but what is more vital is that the user prioritizes being careful and takes the proper steps to ensure that both the operator and those around remain safe. Whether you're a hunter, a recreational target shooter or you carry a gun for protection purposes, you are always obliged to take the necessary precautions when using a gun. The right to keep and bear arms is a sacred privilege in the United States and it falls on the shoulders of every person who owns a gun to do their part and ensure there is never any excuse to have that right revoked.