Some people believe we have every right to own any types of firearms we want. Others think guns should be banned.
For most of us, we fall somewhere in between these opposing sides. While the average citizen may not need a rocket launcher, we have the inherent right to protect ourselves, our families, and our homes.
Furthermore, target shooting, competitive shooting, and hunting are engaging hobbies that require firearms. Regardless of why you own a gun (or want to), one thing remains the same, you must follow the basic firearm safety tips.
Firearm safety rules are in place to protect the user of firearms, as well as the people around them. Mishandling a weapon could lead to serious injuries or even death.
We want to ensure you know how to safely handle your weapon. Keep reading for the top 10 gun safety rules.
1. Assume Your Firearm is Loaded Every Time You Pick It Up
One of the most important firearm safety tips is to treat every weapon as if it were loaded. In other words, every time you pick up your weapon, assume there is a round in the chamber. Even if you personally cleared the weapon and locked it in a safe only you have access to, this rule applies.
Treating your weapon like it’s loaded will prevent unnecessary accidents. We have all heard stories of inexperienced and irresponsible gun owners pointing their “unloaded” weapon at a pet, a person, or object. When they pull the trigger, and the weapon turns out to be loaded, and their life changes forever.
This is equally important for responsible gun owners who are taking out their firearm to clean it or prep it for a day at the range.
2. Keep the Safety Engaged Until You’re Ready to Fire
When at the range, hunting, or in your home, your weapon should always be on safe. The safety switch of your firearm will lock the trigger, which can prevent accidental discharges.
The only time you should take the safety off is when you are about to fire. Whether you’re staring down the sights at a deer or at a paper target, this is when you can remove the safety.
Prematurely removing the safety could result in accidentally firing the weapon. However, it’s important to note that there are some types of firearms that don’t have safety switches. We don’t recommend these for new gun owners.
3. Learn and Apply Trigger Finger Discipline
One of the most engrained firearm safety tips learned by military and law enforcement personnel is trigger finger discipline. This is the habit of keeping your trigger finger straight and off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
This rule helps prevent accidents and injuries. Untrained and inexperienced firearm handlers will immediately put their finger on the trigger of a weapon when picking it up. If there is a round in the chamber or the safety is off, this could spell disaster.
When we trip, cough, sneeze, get surprised, or otherwise react instinctively, our grip tightens on whatever we’re holding. If you’re holding a gun with your finger on the trigger, it will result in an accidental discharge.
4. Implement Muzzle Control
Firearms are relatively simple. You point the muzzle at your intended target and pull the trigger.
While the mechanics of shooting and the skill required to fire accurately with the many types of firearms are much more intricate, the fundamentals are simple. As such, implementing muzzle control is one of the most basic firearm safety tips. In essence, don’t point your weapon at anything other than what you intend to shoot.
Often referred to as “lasering,” lack of muzzle control can be incredibly dangerous. Not to mention, there’s no faster way to upset someone than by pointing your firearm at them. It’s also a good way to get kicked off of a gun range.
Executing muzzle control is a key practice in respecting the people around you, as well as the power of your weapon.
5. Always Be Sure of Your Target and What Lies Beyond
Different types of firearms serve different purposes.
For example, a .22 caliber pistol is mostly for target shooting and small animal game (rabbits, prairie dogs, etc.). Conversely, a .308 hunting rifle has the power to propel a bullet several hundred yards and take down large game (like moose and bear). You also have .223 AR rifles, shotguns, and a wide variety of pistols in different calibers.
No matter what weapon you’re firing or what you’re shooting at, you must be sure of your target and what lies behind it. For example, if you’re hunting on someone’s land and fire a shot at a buck with the person’s home in the background, it could end terribly. The same goes for target shooting, bird hunting, etc.
This is a particularly important lesson if you plan to carry a weapon for self-defense. If you discharge your weapon at someone in self-defense and end up shooting an innocent bystander, their injury or death will be on you.
6. Keep Your Gun Safely Locked Away When Not In-Use
Now, let’s talk about safe firearm storage. We recommend buying a locking safe for your firearms, even if you only have one. This is paramount if you have children or other people living in the home.
While glass gun cabinets are aesthetically appealing, they don’t offer much in terms of security. If someone were to break into your home, they could gain access to your guns by breaking out the glass face.
If you are going to keep a gun out for easy access for home defense, make sure it’s somewhere secret and out of reach of children. We also recommend using a slide locking mechanism. Think “bike lock” that goes through the magazine well and slide of your weapon.
7. Always Use PPE While Shooting
One of the most practical and obvious firearm safety tips is to protect yourself while on the gun range. This means using the necessary PPE.
First, you need eye protection for shooting. This will prevent gun powder residue, empty casings, dirt, and other debris from getting in your eyes and obstructing your vision. Furthermore, the hot brass casings ejected from a pistol while firing in succession could cause serious damage if one hit you in the eye.
You’ll also need ear protection to protect your hearing while firing all types of firearms. While you may feel like this step is “optional,” we assure you, it isn’t. Shooting firearms without hearing protection can certainly lead to hearing damage.
You can find all the shooting PPE you need, including shooting gloves, knee pads, and other tactical gear at Wing Tactical.
8. Properly Clean and Maintain Your Weapon
If you haven’t noticed, the better you take care of things, the longer they last and the better they function. Your car needs oil changes, your home needs various repairs and maintenance throughout the year, your body needs exercise and proper nutrition, etc.
Firearms are no different. After shooting your weapon, you need to take the time to clean it out properly. This will remove gun powder residue, dirt, and any other debris it picked up while hunting or shooting at the range.
Get a gun cleaning kit that includes barrel rods with the appropriate adaptors for your barrel size. You also need a cleaning agent as well as gun oil to keep your weapon functioning smoothly.
9. Master the Mechanics of Your Firearm
One of the most important firearm safety tips is to master the mechanical functions of your weapon. The better you know your weapon, the more efficiently you’ll be able to operate it. This includes:
- Loading magazines
- Charging rounds into the chamber
- Releasing magazines
- Removing rounds from the chamber (without firing the weapon)
- Activating and deactivating the safety
- Clearing gun jams
The mechanical functions of the weapon will depend on the type of firearm you have. Obviously, shotguns operate differently from pistols, and ARs operate differently than hunting rifles.
The importance of practicing these functions with your weapon cannot be overstated, particularly if you’re carrying the firearm for self-defense. In an adrenaline-packed moment of panic and danger, you’re not going to be able to think clearly. These movements and functions must be second nature.
10. Enroll in a Gun Safety Training Course
Finally, we highly recommend investing in gun safety training. Watching YouTube videos and reading articles are great ways to increase your knowledge. Yet, having a professional teach you firearm safety tips in person has profound benefits.
They can analyze your technique and enforce some of the topics mentioned in this article. For example, many people don’t even realize it when they aren’t implementing muzzle control or trigger finger discipline. An instructor can bring those things to your attention so that you can begin to build better weapon handling habits.
Furthermore, most gun safety training courses also include live-fire days on the range. Here, the instructors will be able to teach you the fundamental shooting techniques, such as stance, grip, trigger finger placement, sight alignment, and more.
Are You Implementing These Firearm Safety Tips?
As you can see, owning a firearm isn’t a decision one should make lightly. Failure to follow any of the firearm safety tips listed above could have devastating consequences. We aren’t trying to dissuade you from buying a firearm, just do so with the intention of being a responsible gun owner.
And if you’re looking for more safety tips, hobby ideas, or other life advice, you’re in the right place. Stick around and browse through some of our other articles to find more helpful and insightful information. Our blog was created for people like you.