The right to possess a firearm comes with important responsibilities. Following gun safety rules is essential any time you use your weapon whether this is at the range, while hunting, or for self-defense. There are four universal rules that originate from Jeff Cooper, a United States Marine who founded the American Pistol Institute (API) and created the modern technique of handgun shooting. In addition to these, there are many other rules that are also important to be aware of when handling a firearm.
Here are some of the most essential gun safety rules:
The Four Universal Rules of Gun Safety
All guns are always loaded
Assume that a firearm is loaded at all times, even if you are pretty sure it isn’t. The goal is to practice good habits whether a gun is loaded or not so it becomes second nature. It’s also important to keep in mind that people can be forgetful and it’s better to be safe in case a gun you thought was unloaded really isn’t.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
Muzzle awareness is a must while handling a gun. You should always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction. This includes the basic principle of not pointing the gun at yourself or others. Additionally, following this rule means you need to consider whether or not a bullet is likely to ricochet off a surface. New shooters may make the mistake of accidentally pointing the muzzle at their own arm or hand while drawing a gun from a holster, so this is another factor to be aware of.
Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target
Your finger can move unconsciously if you are startled, so it is essential to keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This is trigger discipline and is an important habit to develop from the start of your training. Many media depictions of firearm use show individuals failing to follow this rule, so first-time gun owners are sometimes unaware of its importance.
Identify your target, and what is behind it
You should know what you are shooting before you put your finger on the trigger and make sure that this is in fact your intended target. In addition, you need to know what is behind your target in case you miss or if the bullet passes through and continues its trajectory.
Additional Gun Safety Rules
Store Your Firearms Properly
Make sure that unauthorized persons do not have easy access to your firearms. A gun safe is a great way to accomplish this.
Use the Correct Ammunition
Using the wrong ammunition for your gun can damage the weapon and put you in danger.
Wear Eye and Ear Protection
The sound of a gunshot is loud enough to cause immediate and irreversible damage to your ears and eye protection prevents powder or ejected cartridges from hitting your eyes.
Know Your Weapon
Read your gun’s owner’s manual and make sure you fully understand how it operates. You should also practice with it regularly at the shooting range.
Researching gun safety is a great place to start, but working with a professional can be even more effective. Consider taking a concealed carry weapon (CCW) class or completing another form of firearms training to develop your skills and learn more about safety.
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