Five Fundamental Rules of Firearm Safety

  1. Treat all firearms as if they were loaded. The first rule is a mindset rule or life habit rule. If we assume the firearm is loaded, we are much more apt to treat the firearm with the care and respect it deserves. The rest of the rules tell us how to treat the firearm is if it was loaded.
  2. Always point the muzzle of the firearm in a safe direction. Never point the firearm at anything you do not want to destroy. If something comes out of the muzzle of the barrel, it will hit whatever is along a line extending out of the barrel. Handguns especially are easy to point in the "wrong" direction because of their short barrel and easy fit to one hand. Muzzle control is a learned conscience skill. We must be aware of where the muzzle is pointing and well as where lives are positioned.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to shoot. Just holding a handgun will not make it fire. One needs to pull the trigger to allow the firing pin to move forward. Since humans have a grip reflex, when startled or threatened, we tend to clench our hand and if our finger was on the trigger the gun could fire. Only when the target threat had been identified and the decision to shoot has been made, should the finger be placed on the trigger and pulled to fire the gun. This trigger control is also a learned conscience skill.
  4. Be sure of your target, in front of and beyond your target. We must be aware of our surroundings well enough to make sure that innocent lives are not threatened. Bullets may pass through the assailant. Near misses are not acceptable especially if there are people in close proximity to the assailant. Once the bullet leaves the gun, it cannot be called back. We must have the skill and confidence that we can affectively stop the threat without harming innocent people. There can be no collateral damage.
  5. Always maintain control of your firearm. There are three parts to this rule. First, the firearm must be in control while it is in your hand. The grip must be strong and secure. Recoil management is necessary for a follow-up shot. If you cannot manage the recoil for a second or third shot without re-establishing the grip, then switch to a lighter recoiling gun. Three or four well-placed shots in three seconds is an acceptable goal. Second, the firearm must be in control while you are carrying it. The holster must provide enough retention so as not to lose the gun with whatever your activity level is or could be. The gun must always be on the person. A gun in a jacket or purse is not being controlled if the either is not in contact with the gun's owner. We must protect our firearm from falling into the hands of the wrong person. Third, the firearm should be stored in a secure place (locked up) when not being used for defensive purposes. One does not store a firearm in a dresser drawer or unlock bedside cabinet. Access of firearms must be prevented for children, mentally incompetent, criminals and those who do not know how to safely handle a firearm, which could be just about anybody.

Faithfully following the above rules should prevent any negligent discharge as well as not allowing the firearm to fall into the wrong hands. As a responsible law-abiding citizen who chooses to carry a firearm for protection, it is our duty to abide by these rules.

Other organizations, businesses and institutions may list other firearm safety rules. For example, the NRA includes "Keep the firearm unloaded until you are ready to use it." It is a great rule and certainly should be followed. A stored firearm SHOULD be unloaded. A firearm that is kept "ready to use" should be loaded, otherwise it is not ready to use. So, as mentioned in Rule #5, a firearm kept in its loaded condition in a dresser drawer or night stand is not being stored and still needs to be kept under the control of its owner.
Another rule commonly expressed is that "Alcohol and firearms do not mix." This is also a good rule for it falls under Rule #5 in that a person is not under full control of the firearm and decision making process especially if that person has been consuming alcohol or any other drugs, even prescription and over the counter drugs that may alter reflexes, mobility, and the decision making process.
A person should also know how the handgun functions and where and how any mechanical safety features that may exist.

Posted by Fred on December 3, 2013