So, we decided that this might be a good time to go over a few fundamental gun safety principles in the interest of everyone's safety—both gun owners and those nearby. These are the four guidelines you should memorize and follow at all times if you're a new gun owner. Please take a moment to examine these guidelines even if you are an experienced gun owner because complacency can breed unhealthy behaviors. Furthermore, using a gun can actually mean the difference between life and death.
The most fundamental safety guideline is this. There would be almost no weapon mishaps if everyone handled firearms so carefully that the muzzle never pointed toward anything they didn't plan to shoot. That's all there is to it, and your choice.
Never point a firearm at anything that you don't want to get shot. This is crucial when using a firearm to load or unload. As long as the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction, no injuries can result from an unintentional firing.
Given the possibility of ricochets and the fact that bullets can pass through walls and ceilings, a safe path is one in which a bullet cannot conceivably hit someone. The safe direction may occasionally be "up" or "down," but it should never be directed at a person or object that is not the intended target. You should never point the gun at a hazardous target, not even when "dry firing" with an unloaded weapon.
Make it a habit to always be aware of the precise direction in which your gun's muzzle is pointing, and make sure you can maintain control of that direction even if you trip or fall. You are in charge of this, and only you have power over it.
In instances of unintentional shootings, there is one phrase that is frequently used: "I didn't think it was loaded." You may also say, "I was certain it wasn't loaded."
You don't need to think if you treat every firearm you handle—every single time you handle one—as if it's loaded. You will always behave in the safest possible way since it will come naturally to you to do so.
This means that even if you've taken out the magazine (or unloaded the gun in another method, such emptying the cylinder on a revolver), cleared the chamber, and locked the slide or charging handle back so the gun can't fire, you still handle it as if it's loaded and might discharge. This will not only keep you and others around you safer, but it will also help prevent the formation of undesirable habits in you. If you're operating responsibly and safely by treating every firearm—even one you know is unloaded—as if it's loaded, you'll automatically maintain that conduct when dealing with loaded weapons. Since you approach every handgun you handle with the assumption that it is loaded, there should be no difference in how you handle either.
Firearms should only be loaded when you are in the shooting zone, on the target range, or in the field and prepared to fire. Firearms and ammunition should always be stored safely and apart from one another when not in use. You must take steps to keep minors and unauthorized adults from obtaining access to weapons or ammunition.
As soon as you're done, unload your weapon. In or close to a car, truck, or structure is not the location for a loaded rifle. When you're done shooting, immediately unload your pistol before taking it into a car, a campsite, or your house.
Always open the action of a firearm as soon as you handle it or hand it to someone else, and make sure there is no ammo in the chamber, receiver, or magazine by visually inspecting each one. When not in use, keep activities open. Never assume a loaded firearm is unloaded; always double-check! This is seen as a sign of a skilled gun handler!
With a loaded rifle, never climb a tree, pass a fence, or engage in any other difficult behavior. You will occasionally need to unload your rifle while in the field to ensure optimal safety. This is only common sense and a requirement of the fundamental laws of guns safety. Never push or tug a loaded gun toward you or someone else. There is never a good reason to carry a loaded firearm in a holster, a container, or a scabbard. Unload your weapon if you're unsure!
Assume that every firearm is capable of firing at any moment. Any gun's "safety" is a mechanical mechanism that, like any mechanical mechanism, may malfunction at the worst possible time. In addition, the safety may accidentally be "off" when you think it is "on." It is impossible for the safety to replace common sense; it can only be used as an adjunct to safe gun handling. Never handle a gun carelessly or think that simply because the "safety is on," the gun won't discharge.
Never pull the trigger of a firearm until you are prepared to fire. When loading or unloading, keep your fingers well away from the trigger. With the safety set to "safe" or anywhere between "safe" and "fire," never squeeze the trigger on a firearm. Without you ever pulling the trigger again, the gun may discharge at any time or even later after the safety is released.
Never place the safety in a halfway position because a half-safe situation is dangerous. Till you are completely prepared to fire, keep the safety "on."
Any blow or jolt powerful enough to activate the firing mechanism of a gun can cause it to discharge regardless of the safety's setting. Even if the trigger is not touched, such as when a gun is dropped, this can still occur. Never lean a loaded firearm against anything as there is always a chance that it will be jostled or slip and fall with enough force to discharge. Only when the action is open and the weapon is entirely empty can you be assured that it cannot fire. Never, ever depend on the safety of your firearms. The primary safeguards for your gun are you and the safe handling techniques you have mastered.
No one is able to fire back. You have no control over where a bullet will land or what it will hit once a gun has been fired. Shoot only once you are certain of where and what your bullet will land. Make sure your shot won't hit anything or anyone but your intended target. Disregard for others' safety is demonstrated by firing at a sound or movement without being certain of what you are shooting at. No target is so crucial that you shouldn't take the time to be confident of it and where your shot will land before you pull the trigger.
Be careful that a bullet fired from a 22 short can travel more than 1 1/4 miles, and a bullet fired from a 30-06 can travel more than 3 miles. Shotgun slugs have a range of more than half a mile, and shotgun pellets can travel 500 yards.
You should be aware of how far a bullet will go if it ricochets or misses your intended target.
You have the critical obligation to use just the right ammo with your handgun. Read and pay attention to all warnings, including those on the ammunition boxes and in the gun's instruction manual.
A gun can be destroyed and a serious person can be seriously hurt when the wrong ammo is used. It just takes a single round of the wrong caliber or gauge to ruin your firearm, and it takes just a moment to check each one as you load it. Make absolutely assured that the ammunition you are using complies with both the manufacturer's markings on the rifle and the specifications listed in the gun's instruction manual.
Firearms are created, produced, and proof tested to specifications based on factory-loaded ammunition specifications. It can be harmful to use handloaded or reloaded ammunition that deviates from pressures produced by factory loads or from component recommendations listed in reputable handloading books. It can also result in significant injury to the shooter and severe damage to the shooter's firearms. Use only correct reloads; never use ammunition with unidentified components.
It is important to safely dispose of ammunition that has been extremely wet or has been submerged in water. Never use solvents or oil to lubricate ammunition or load it into heavily oiled weapons. Using such ammo could lead to poor ignition, subpar performance, damage to your firearm, injury to you or others, and more.
Make it a practice to carefully inspect each cartridge you load into your rifle. Never use faulty or inferior ammunition; saving a little cash isn't worth the chance of getting hurt or ruining your rifle.