Firearm Safety Tips

Basic rules for safe firearm handling

  1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
  4. ALWAYS assume the gun is loaded even if someone tells
    you its not.

Safety Rules for Using or Storing a Firearm

When using or storing a gun, always follow these National Rifle Association rules:

  • Know your target and what is beyond.
    Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
  • Know how to use the gun safely.
    Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
  • Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
    Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
    Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
    Guns are loud and then noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
  • Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting
    Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
  • Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
    Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules. If you own a gun be sure to store it in a gun safe, even if that’s a bedside safe, or budget gun safe. If you have a significant amount of ammunition around try storing it in safe made for storing ammo.
  • Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
  • Cleaning
    Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.

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A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.

Firearm Safety

A national study indicates that more than 53 percent of all households in the United States possess some type of firearm. There are in excess of 280 million firearms in the United States. The following tips come from the American Firearms Institute and the National Rifle Association

Children and Firearm Safety

Because of the popularity of firearms, children are likely to encounter guns in their lives. Many do so without parental supervision. Even if you do not own a gun, a child could come in contact with a gun at a neighbour’s house or when playing with friends. Children need to know what to do when exposed to firearms. Unfortunately, they develop the wrong ideas and impressions about firearms from what they view on television. Much of gun use on TV is inaccurate and untrue.

On television, firearms are handled with little safety in mind. Children often see movie stars who seem invulnerable to bullets. The viewing public never sees the tremendous damage a bullet can inflict. One shot can kill. Children need to understand the difference between pretend and real life.

Firearms come in all sizes and shapes. The words “gun”, “rifle”, “machine gun”, “shotgun” and “pistol” create various images among children. Children are curious about firearms and will seek them out naturally. They need to understand that a little gun is just as dangerous as a big gun. They also need to understand the difference between a toy gun such as a cap gun or squirt gun, and a real gun such as a pistol or shotgun.

Children should never handle firearms unless parents say it is all right and then do so only in the presence of a responsible adult. They should never “show and tell” firearms to friends. Children should be taught that if they find a gun or ammunition, they should immediately tell an adult or call the police. If they see someone handling a gun who is drunk or under the influence of drugs, they should leave and immediately call 9-1-1.
According to the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, if a child finds a gun in an unsupervised situation, they should:


Children should be taught to never point any weapon, real or otherwise, at others. This includes BB guns, toy guns, water pistols, darts, toy bow and arrow sets, etc. They should not point a weapon at the TV set, pets, birds or other animals. They should never let someone point a gun at them and should leave if it happens.

Gunshots are not necessarily loud. If a child hears a “popping” sound, the sound of a firecracker, or what appears to be gunfire, they should not go outside to investigate. Do not assume everything is okay. Seek protection and notify the police. Adults who own firearms tend to hide them from their children. It becomes shrouded in secrecy. When children discover guns, they like to mimic what they see on television. They point and shoot. In some cases, a child too young to pull the trigger turns it around, points it at his face, and squeezes the trigger with his thumbs. Many guns are not equipped with a safety lock mechanism, increasing their danger.

Teach your child to shoot

Most kids are interested in guns. Parents should explain firearm use to their children, much like they would with matches – to remove the mystery surrounding it.

Why? Letting a child shoot a gun under adult supervision will teach him or her the immense power and danger of its use. A child will learn to respect firearms, not be misguided by what is seen on television. Children can be taught the basic rules of gun use, even with a pellet gun or a .22 caliber firearm, in a controlled setting.

Adults and Gun Safety

The essentials to proper firearm handling include knowing the basics of firearm safety, being able to void out distractions and being able to concentrate on sight alignment and trigger control. Gun use for self-protection must be a reflex – one brought about through constant practice. We cannot plan what do to in an emergency but we can train ourselves to react instinctively. Use a firearm you’re familiar and comfortable with, not one you cannot control. If you do not feel comfortable with firearms, avoid them, but if there is one in your home know the rules of safe handling.

According to firearms experts, one should not buy a gun immediately after being victimized in a crime. Citizens need to understand that “getting even” with a criminal is not a good reason for owning a firearm. Trying to get even after a crime means that the gun owner will be angry, frustrated, scared, and will be unsafe handling a firearm.

Adults who own guns need to be reminded of the basic rules of firearms and the safe storage of guns and ammunition. Guns are not intelligent; they are a piece of cold steel with the potential to inflict great bodily harm. A qualified gun handler is one who is well versed and trained in the fundamentals of firearms.

Basic rules for safe firearm handling

    • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
    • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
    • ALWAYS assume the gun is loaded even if someone tells you its not.

A firearm should never be left loaded and unattended.
Don’t store it loaded in the dresser drawer. This means that if one wants to keep a loaded gun at their bedside at night, it should be unloaded and put away in the morning in a locked cabinet or safe. If there are children in the house the firearm should be locked up in a safe or locked cabinet.

  • Adults should treat all firearms as if they are loaded all the time, even if the action is open or the clip is empty.
  • Don’t squeeze the trigger to see if it is loaded. This is the most common cause of unintentional gunshot wounds.
  • One should never point the muzzle of a firearm at someone unless they intend to kill or
  • Don’t let the muzzle inadvertently drop or point at others.
  • Don’t handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes over-the-counter cough preparations and allergy medications.
  • Don’t practice with a firearm if you feel ill, have a cold, or have an earache.
  • Guns and ammunition should always be stored separately.
  • Ammunition should be stored in a metal container, such as an ammo box. It should be kept in a cool, dry area with little temperature change. The garage is not a good location because of wide temperature fluctuations.

[Source: 2007 American Firearms Institute, National Rifle Association and the City of Phoenix]

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