Gun Safety Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

A major part of responsible gun ownership is understanding the various rules and regulations designated for your firearm. These standards are put in place to keep you and others around you as safe as possible. 

With so much fine print to understand, it can be tricky to know exactly what to do, and what you should not do. 

Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive guide to the most important gun safety rules. Read on to discover the proper protocols to follow. 

1. Learn Your Gun

Gun education and gun ownership go hand-in-hand. Before you begin using your gun, take the time to familiarize yourself with it. Learn exactly how it operates, and how its basic parts work. 

You should also understand how to safely open and close the gun’s action, as well as remove any ammunition from the magazine. These are basic facts, but they could save a life. 

While your gun should include a mechanical safety device, never assume that it’s working. These components are not foolproof, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. Instead, take it upon yourself to practice safe gun handling at all times. 

If you need help navigating the ins and outs of your gun, reach out to an expert before moving forward.  

2. Know the Right Position

The top rule mandated by the National Rifle Association (NRA) is to always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction. Notice that the NRA does not specify exactly what that direction should be. 

This is because the “safest” position will be different depending on your circumstance. In some instances, it’s safest to point the gun to the right. Other times, it may be necessary to point it to the left. 

Use common sense to gauge where you should point your gun to avoid harming anyone around you. 

3. Treat It As Loaded

The devastating deadly shooting that occurred on the set of the movie “Rust” in 2021 shone a spotlight on one of the most important parts of owning a gun. Always treat a firearm as though it is loaded, even if you know for a fact that it is not. 

If you grow accustomed to this practice, you’re less likely to make an avoidable mistake in the future. Firearms are incredibly serious weapons and it’s critical to respect them and treat them as such. Never play with them or point them at anyone, and always assume that the one you’re holding is loaded with ammunition. 

4. Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger

When shooting a gun, it’s important to handle the instrument correctly. The most important thing to keep in mind? Do not place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 

When you’re holding it, you can rest your finger beside the frame, keeping it straight and leaving it outside of the trigger guard. You can touch the trigger when you’re ready to fire, but not a moment before. 

There are various supports and mechanisms you can use to ensure you’re firing your gun correctly. For instance, the best AR15 fixed stock can help you ensure accuracy each time you pull the trigger.

5. Keep It Unloaded

One of the most important gun safety tips is to keep your firearm unloaded until you’re ready to shoot it. This applies to all types of guns, in every situation. Even if you store a gun in your home for personal protection, it’s best to keep the bullets securely locked up in a different location. 

This way, you can help prevent an accidental shooting if someone, such as a child, finds the firearm. Then, when it’s time to load the gun, make sure you’re doing it the right way. 

If you’re unsure how to open the action or inspect the chambers for bullets, do not manipulate the gun further. Instead, find someone who knows the right steps to follow, and allow them to handle the gun instead. 

6. Identify the Proper Target

When it’s time to shoot your gun, you should be absolutely sure that you have identified the correct target. Yet, don’t just stop there. It’s important to also check the area beyond your target. 

Any of these areas could potentially come into your line of fire.

There should not be any people in your perspective, and you should be confident that your target is the only thing in your sight. Keep in mind that anything you point your gun toward could become destroyed, so it’s imperative to think first and shoot second. 

7. Protect Your Eyes and Ears

Even the smallest guns can produce a deafeningly loud sound. Always wear the proper ear protection when handling yours. Shooting your gun without covering your ears can lead to hearing damage over time. 

At the same time, it’s also important to protect your eyes with special shooting glasses. The gun could emit hot, dangerous gasses when it fires, along with small pieces of debris. 

In addition to outfitting yourself with the proper safety gear, also provide these accessories for any spectators who might be nearby. The risks are also present for them, and they should keep themselves covered, too. 

8. Use the Right Ammunition

Only load your gun with the exact type of ammunition that it’s built to support. Depending on the type of firearm you have, this might include:

  • Cartridges
  • Shells
  • BBs
  • Pellets

Check the barrel of your gun to see the correct type of ammunition to use. If this information is not located there, you should also be able to find it printed on the box that your gun was packaged in. Some firearms also have ammunition information stamped on their cartridges. 

9. Perform Regular Maintenance

An old or outdated gun is unsafe to use. Just like your car or computer, this device requires routine maintenance to make sure it’s in safe operating condition. If you pull one out of long-term storage, don’t assume it’s ready to use.

Older guns can have a host of cleanliness issues that could impede their safety and usability. Over time, moisture and dirt can accumulate inside their components, which could affect their operability. If there was any type of grease or oil in the gun before it was stored, those substances can harden and solidify over time, which also causes a safety hazard.

As a gun owner, you should understand how to safely clean your gun, and the proper way to store it. These two steps can go a long way toward keeping your gun clean and operable. To extend the lifetime of your gun and keep it in solid working condition, always clean it after each use. 

If you’re unsure at all about your gun’s safety or operability, always ask an experienced gunsmith to take a look at it. If you assume it’s working and a malfunction occurs, the consequences could be significant. 

10. Do Not Shoot While Under the Influence

It should go without saying, but you should never use your firearm if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you have consumed any type of substance that could even slightly impair your normal mental or physical state, stay far away from your gun. 

11. Know What to Do After a Failure

What should you do if you pull the trigger on your gun but it fails to fire? If this happens, don’t automatically pull the trigger again. Instead, hold your shooting position and stay there for several seconds. As you do so, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times. 

When the seconds have passed, you can safely and carefully unload the gun. 

12. Store Your Gun Safely

You must know how to store your gun so it’s out of reach for anyone who could use it dangerously. There isn’t one exact spot that’s always best to use. Your specific situation will dictate which location is ideal. 

As you browse the gun market, you’ll find that there are many different types of gun safes and storage devices that you can use. You can also purchase special locking mechanisms that attach directly to your firearm. 

While these mechanical devices might seem convenient, such built-in safeties are not failproof. You should not rely on them to keep your gun from firing when not in use. 

Regardless of where and how you store your gun, even the most secure location cannot take the place of following the proper gun safety rules. Teach these rules to everyone who may use or come into contact with your gun. Safety education is the most important and effective way to prevent your firearm from causing unintended harm. 

Follow These Gun Safety Rules 

Being a gun owner comes with great responsibility. Once you understand and follow these basic gun safety rules, you can feel confident that you’re using your firearm the right way. 

If you’re unsure about any aspect of firing, cleaning, or storing your gun, always reach out to an experienced gunsmith before proceeding. Countless accidents occur each year because owners assume they know how to use their guns and proceed against their better judgment. 

Interested in learning more about how to stay safe and live your best life? Check out the rest of our Lifestyle guides!

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