Basic gun safety is something everyone needs to practice. By following these five simple guidelines, everyone can safely and responsibly enjoy firearm ownership. Remember, these rules can be applied equally to rifles as well as handguns!
1. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
This rule should be followed anytime a handgun is encountered. If everyone follows this rule, no one will be hurt in the event of an accidental/negligent discharge. Always means just that: ALWAYS!
2. Clear any firearm mechanically, physically and visually inspect for ammunition every time you handle it.
Clearing the firearm verifies the firearm is “unloaded” or “empty” thus making the firearm safe to handle. Clearing an autoloading handgun properly will involve removing the magazine and visually/physically inspecting the chamber for ammunition. With a revolver, the cylinder must be open and inspected for ammunition. This should be done immediately upon picking up a firearm and again before handing it to someone else. If a person is handing you a firearm, expect them to clear it and then you should clear it as well. Even after a firearm has been verified “clear”, it must be treated as if it were loaded.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to immediately shoot.
It is a good idea to instill good “trigger discipline” right from the start. This means shooters are committed to keeping their hand/fingers away from the trigger mechanism at all times. This includes cleaning, transport and routine handling.
4. Know your target and what is around/beyond it.
Before shooting at or near anything, inspect the target and its surroundings. Keep in mind ricochets can occur and bullets may travel well beyond their intended target. A safe target and acceptable back stop are required to maintain a safe shooting environment for not only the shooter but anything/anyone in the general vicinity.
5. Responsible gun owners control access to their firearms.
When not in use, handguns must be stored in a manner that controls access to the firearm. Methods of access control vary greatly, but generally speaking locking the handgun in a personal safe is the most convenient/safe option. Modern options are convenient and affordable, offering almost instant access to your personal safe via biometric, combination, RFID or keyed locks. Remember to also secure your storage container by bolting or cable locking it down in a convenient and secure location. If the handgun is meant for home protection, remember to keep the contents clutter free by only adding essentials such as a spare magazine and flashlight.