Most gun owners are very aware of the firearm safety guidelines and expectations. However, sometimes due to distractions, assumptions and bad habits even experienced gun owners make mistakes. Mistakes with a firearm often end in tragedy that is absolutely preventable. Taking the time to make sure you are using proper firearm safety procedures is essential for first time gun owners as well as those that have been around firearms all their life.
The National Rifle Association as well as many gun safety programs provide relevant and up to date information about gun safety. Different areas may require specific training to be licensed to own and handle firearms. This is developed on a local as well as national level and does vary considerably based on the area in which you are located.
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Verify The Gun Is Unloaded
As soon as you pick up any gun it is essential to double check there is no ammunition in the gun. This includes checking the action and the chambers, removing the magazine and verifying there are no cartridges in the gun. If you make this a habit any other oversights in safety will not result in a tragedy.
Always keep the safety engaged on the gun even if it is empty. This is another essential habit to develop when handling your own firearms as well as anyone else’s guns. Be aware of your muzzle at all times.
Know Your Gun
If you do not know how to correctly operate the specific firearm it is important to take a training course or get one on one assistance before attempting to fire the gun. This includes understanding how to load the gun, shoot the gun and check to make sure the gun is operationally safe. It also includes knowing if the gun is in a safe condition to fire and that the gun is clean, lubricated and in good repair. It also means checking the ammunition to avoid injury if the ammunition misfires.
Know what type of ammunition is used in your gun. In some cases you may be able to load the wrong type of ammunition into the gun, creating a real safety hazard for both the user and those around the area.
It is critical for anyone handling a gun to know what they are pointing the gun at even if they have no intention of pulling the trigger. This is known as MUZZLE AWARENESS. This is always a major safety factor that needs to be considered. Never point the muzzle of the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. While you may have a specific target in your sites what could you possibly hit if the bullet was to go through the target or miss is an equally important factor.
Using The Safety
Most firearms will have a safety feature that, when engaged, prevents the gun from firing. Always assume that the gun’s safety is off when handling the firearm and don’t play with the gun with the safety on thinking that it cannot discharge. In fact guns can and do fire with the safety on if the safety fails. If you are always in the habit of assuming the safety is off the risk of an accident is greatly reduced.
Mechanical safeties that are used on guns when stored are also a good option. But, like any other type of device, they can fail so using safe handling precautions is an extra precaution that can save lives.
Store The Gun Correctly
Guns should be stored according to laws and regulations based on your location. Many areas require guns be kept in an approved locking safe with ammunition separate from the guns. It is highly recommended that guns be stored unloaded, particularly if they are not in a locked gun safe.
Guns should be stored in private locations away from highly visible areas of the home or building. They should not be readily available to individuals, including children, who are not properly trained and authorized to have access to your firearms.