- Always Assume Your Gun is Loaded While Handling It.
- Only Aim At Your Intended Target.
- For safety's sake, think of each bullet as a little bomb.
Whether it’s for sport or protection, the moment you become a gun owner, you become responsible for safely carrying and using a firearm. Below are safety tips that every gun owner should know before they make the purchase.
1. Always Assume Your Gun is Loaded While Handling It
Unless this is truly your first rodeo when it comes to gun safety, we can assume you’ve heard not to keep it loaded. A safe gun owner assumes the day will come when handling a weapon he or she just knew was unloaded – until, one day, it isn’t. That’s why it’s best to build the habit of handling a gun as if it were loaded, all the time.
The gun you assume to be unloaded might have been handled recently by someone less careful, perhaps without your knowledge. Many other accidents are caused by owners’ assumption that everything is fine so long as the weapon is safetied. But your safety can wear down. Assume your gun is loaded and make operating under that assumption a habit.
2. Only Aim At Your Intended Target
Older movies and TV shows show people doing some things with guns that look comical today. They gesture at each other with their barrels while talking, or use them to scratch their heads or lift the brim of their fedoras. You don’t see this much in modern movies, but unfortunately it still happens in real life. Don’t be one of these accidents waiting to happen. Keep your barrel pointed at some neutral object such as the earth until you really mean to shoot at your target.
Don’t forget about what’s behind your target, either. Bullets don’t just stop in mid flight when you want them too, after all. They carry up to a full mile after firing.
Don’t underestimate penetrating power, either. Even in today’s movies, we’re used to seeing people hide from gunfire behind almost any sort of object, including ordinary plywood or plaster walls. In real life these things won’t usually stop a bullet.
3. Don’t Use Drugs or Alcohol While Shooting
Shooting is a recreational sport, and as such it can be a celebratory occasion. It’s a wonderful way to get together with friends and family. Occasions like this can naturally involve beer or other spirits, or various drugs. Just remember that unlike a lot of other recreations, shooting involves the use of lethal weapons. Keep your head clear, and make sure everyone you’re with does as well. This doesn’t just include obvious intoxicants, but any prescription medication. Even strong coffee might juice you up for a dangerous half-hour till your pulse rate stabilizes. While on this point, it might be worthwhile to recommend not using drugs or alcohol while cleaning or otherwise handling your weapon even while all alone at home. You might be a perfectly stable person, but once under the influence, there’s no telling where a chemically-induced mood swing might lead you.
4. Watch Out for Misfires
With misfires, the key is to wait. Don’t start opening the gun, inadvertently pointing the barrel in some random direction. Definitely don’t turn the gun around and look down the barrel, wondering what got stuck in it. There’s a particular sort of misfire to watch out for: a delayed firing. Your gun will fire, just not at the moment you pulled the trigger. Give it half a minute or so after squeezing the trigger before pointing the barrel at anything other than the target or your pre-selected neutral object. Only then can you consider it safe to investigate what went wrong.
Remember that this is a problem that can be minimized by cleaning your weapon frequently and thoroughly, to the point of disassembling and reassembling it so that you can thoroughly clean each part.
5. Safety and Ammunition
For safety’s sake, think of each bullet as a little bomb. It isn’t just dangerous once it’s fired. It’s already dangerous, containing a smokeless propellant and a percussion-sensitive primer mixture all ready to go “boom.” Accordingly, proper storage is essential. Don’t keep your ammunition anywhere where the temperature will reach or exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a temperature easily reached inside a car, where it can reach 172 degrees on a hot summer day.
Further, the old adage “keep your powder dry” exists for a reason. Store ammo where it won’t be subject to seepage, either from water or any other liquid. This a key source of “squib shots” and misfires. Keep your ammunition stored in the manufacturer’s original packaging, which includes information you’ll need about safe handling, transport and storage.
Don’t simply keep ammunition out of children’s reach, keep it out of reach of anyone who isn’t trained in its safe use. Finally, don’t store ammunition in your gun itself. Your first line of home defense is your alarm system, not a loaded pistol kept under your pillow.
Before you become a gun owner, it is imperative that you become familiar with safety precautions.