Every year, there are a number of accidents that occur with firearms that could have been prevented if everyone followed some simple and practical gun safety practices.

In the dangerous world we live in, firearms are necessary, and they save countless lives by protecting people from criminals and even dangerous animals. Still, accidents do happen, however, these needless tragedies can simply be avoided by following only a few rules and safety precautions. Everyone should know what the rules for handling guns safely are and if they come in contact with firearms, even briefly, follow them.

The 4 Rules of Gun Safety

There are four basic rules to gun safety instituted by the United States Marine Corps.

Please take a moment to read, understand, and commit to memory these simple gun safety rules for your protection and the safety of others. There are other safety precautions that are recommended as well, but these four rules should be followed at all times when dealing with any firearm in any situation.

1. Treat Every Weapon as if it is Loaded

Loaded gun

Image via Tenicor

Make sure that your mindset is vigilant for this rule above all others.

If you treat your gun if it is loaded, even when you believe it is not, you can avoid most gun accidents that occur. If you are handling your weapon as if it were loaded, even if it accidentally discharges, most injuries and death will not result, as the weapon will not be pointing at any living being.

Make sure that up until you prove that the gun is unloaded, checking immediately before performing actions such as gun cleaning, storage, or maneuvering, you treat the gun as if it were loaded at all times.

2. Never Point Weapon at Something You Don’t Intend to Shoot

This practice is also known as “muzzle discipline.” The first rule allows for the possibility of the gun being loaded and for potential accidental discharge. This second step assures there will be no injury or death in the event of accidental discharge, because the gun will not be pointed at a target that is not intended, avoiding risk altogether.

3. Keep Your Finger Straight and Off Trigger (Until Prepared to Shoot)

The practice of keeping your finger off the trigger until you are preparing to shoot is also known as “trigger discipline.” A shooter’s finger may be suddenly pushed or jolted into a firing action upon the trigger by any of a host of factors including but not limited to: involuntary spasms, being knocked by an object, person, or animal, losing balance, or lack of attention at critical moments.

4. Keep Weapon Safety on Until Prepared to Shoot

Make sure the firearm you are using has a working safety mechanism, and check the weapon to make sure the action of the safety is free and operating correctly. When you are not directly using the gun to shoot with, keep the safety in the on position and check frequently when moving the gun or relocating it. If gun falls or is jolted or bumped, check the safety every time there may be a question if there has been a potential release of the safety mechanism.

Other Gun Safety Tips to Follow

There are also a few other rules people like to follow when they are using, handling, or around guns. Some of them are used by professionals and are used every day by countless experts who handle guns. Here are a few rules of thumb that everyone should adopt into their gun safety regimen:

  • Always keep gun muzzle pointed downwards. This simple practice will assure that in the event of accidental discharge, the gun will fire into the ground and not upwards where it can strike people or animals unintentionally.
  • Always keep gun unloaded until ready to fire. Practicing this step will also aid in preventing most accidental discharges, as a gun that is not loaded cannot fire. Still, treat every gun as if it loaded at all times, even when you are sure it is not.

Gun Safety Instruction

For those who desire to learn all there is about gun safety, taking a gun safety course is a great idea. There are gun safety classes offered in many areas, and those who are preparing to come in contact with or use firearms can be fully prepared for the elements of basic and advanced gun safety by taking them.

Check with gun clubs, firearms dealers, or hunting associations in your area, and they will be glad to help you find places to get hands-on instruction on the finer points of gun safety. Practice in real-world situations can result in a full understanding of exactly what to do to achieve gun safety.

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