No discussion of firearms is complete unless it starts out with the safety aspects. This is something that cannot be repeated enough. The person with the gun in his hand has the ultimate responsibility for handling it safely.
There are four basic rules to gun safety:
- ALWAYS keep the muzzle of your gun pointed in a safe direction, and keep in mind that if your gun happened to go off it will probably destroy whatever it happens to be pointing at
- ALWAYS keep your finger completely off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. When your finger is on the trigger it means that you are fixing to fire a shot. If you are not going to fire the gun your finger should be outside the trigger guard.
- ALWAYS treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never ASSUME that a gun is unloaded, VERIFY that it is unloaded. If a gun leaves your sight for any reason, check it when you pick it up again.
- ALWAYS be certain of your target and what is behind it. Bullets have a lot of energy and can go through things like thin walls, hay bales used for target stands, and so on. Be certain that if the bullet goes through the target that whatever is behind it will not be damaged. Also be certain that if you miss the intended target there will be no damage to something else in the vicinity.
- Guns are not toys. If you want to play with something, get a toy. If you want to have a Show And Tell with your guns, be very careful with them. Guns should be kept in cabinets or other safe places when not in use, and they should be kept in a holster until they need to be used when they are carried.
- The only absolutely reliable, guaranteed infallible safety is the shooter. Whether the mechanical safety is on or not is absolutely immaterial because the ONLY safety that is worth having is between your ears. If you use your head and pay attention to the previous four rules you will NEVER have a negligent discharge from a firearm, you will NEVER cause any damage with a firearm, and you will NEVER cause anyone to be harmed with a firearm.
- Take an approved safety course. Regardless of how experienced you think you are, regardless of how careful you think you are, and regardless of how long you have been shooting, you can still learn something from a good firearms course. We are all human and we tend to forget things and become complacent over time. Take a course! From time to time, take a refresher course!
- When you pull the trigger, you just bought whatever that bullet hits! It is YOUR responsibility to insure that you do not cause harm or damage with your gun. It is NOT the responsibility of the firearm manufacturer or the government or your daddy, it is YOUR responsibility. If you cannot accept that responsibility do NOT get a gun!
These rules may seem obvious, but keep in mind that EVERY firearm accident that has EVER occurred has happened because someone forgot to pay attention to one of these rules. If everyone with a gun in their hands remembered these rules all the time there would NEVER be another firearms accident.
These rules also apply when you are simply looking at guns that you are interested in purchasing. If the salesman hands you a firearm without first verifying that it is not loaded, check it yourself. If you don't know how to check it, ask the salesman to clear it for you. If he tells you that he knows it is unloaded, then tell him that you would feel a lot better if it was checked. If he takes offense just thank him for his time and go somewhere else. When you raise the gun to aim it, don't point it at the salesman's head or out the window of the store or at anything else you would not be willing to shoot. Keep these rules in mind at all times and you will never have an accident. Forget one of them and you probably will sooner or later.