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20 Firearm Safety Tips



20 Firearm Safety Tips

Firearm safety should always be observed, whether you're a novice shooter or a seasoned professional. Make no mistake about it: a gun is a deadly weapon. A single bullet hitting a human being can have such a devastating effect, enough to end that person’s life. Indeed, these weapons are designed to kill or inflict serious physical injury.

20 Firearm Safety Tips

Many would claim that target shooting and hunting are safe sports, which is true. But they can only be harmless if firearm safety precautions are strictly observed. The same can be said about having a gun for home defense. Statistically speaking, the dangers of a gun-related injury or death increase when you have a gun at home. But it doesn't have to be that way if you practice good firearm safety.

While no one can deny you your right to bear arms, you should always consider it a big responsibility. Accidents can happen even in conditions or locations that you assume are safe. Observe these firearm safety rules and tips very carefully to avoid causing harm to the people you originally intend to protect: your loved ones, your property, your rights, as well as yourself.

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction

Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction

This is the most basic safety rule. If everyone handled a firearm so carefully that the muzzle never pointed at something they didn't intend to shoot, there would be virtually no firearms accidents. It's as simple as that, and it's up to you.
Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. This is particularly important when loading or unloading a firearm. In the event of an accidental discharge, no injury can occur as long as the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. Read more

2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger. For the full post, click here.

3. Keep your gun at the minimum level of readiness.

This usually means keeping your gun unloaded when you're not using it. Obviously, if you expect trouble at any moment, your gun should be loaded and ready. On the other hand, you shouldn't leave a loaded gun around the house if it isn't for self defense.
If you're at the shooting range, keep the action open until just before you start shooting so other shooters can clearly see that your gun is safe.
If you're out hunting, keep the gun unloaded until you get to the hunting area. Keep the firing chamber empty until you need to load it, and the action open until you're ready to shoot. (Obviously, for some types of game, the gun has to be ready at all times). See more

4. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.

Accept the mindset to always keep your gun pointed in a direction that would safely stop the bullet should it discharge. At an ADTA event, if you're not on the firing line, your gun should stay holstered muzzle-down, cased, or locked open and pointing down and away from people. If you're on the firing line, your gun should stay pointed downrange, at the bullet trap backstop at the end of the range. If you will be cleaning or handling your unloaded gun at home, find a safe direction ahead of time — bullets penetrate floors, ceiling, windows, and walls. Masonry, a full bookcase, a full freezer, downward (if you're on the ground floor), or even a five gallon bucket of sand may be good options. Continue reading.

5. Be sure you know how your firearm operates.

Read the manual on your firearm, know how to safely open and close the action of the firearm and know how to safely remove any ammunition from the firearm and its magazine. Click here to read the whole article.

6. Always wear eye and ear protectors specified for use with firearms.

Always wear eye and ear protectors specified for use with firearms.

Wear eye protection that is specified for use with firearms every time you handle your firearm for cleaning and maintenance. Wear eye and ear protection specified for use with firearms every time you discharge your firearm. Make sure others in the vicinity of where you will be shooting do so as well. Read more

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7. Always safely store and secure your firearm.

Always safely store and secure your firearm.

Safe and secure storage of your firearm is one of the most important responsibilities of firearms ownership. It is a full-time responsibility. You must always secure your firearm and ammunition separately so that they are not accessible to children or other unauthorized persons. See more

8. Don't shoot at hard surfaces (including water).

Water might not seem like a hard surface, but its density makes it pretty dangerous. It has a tendency to allow bullets and shotgun shot to ricochet (glance off) and fly off in an unintended direction. Not good. Hard surfaces like metal, rocks, and hard wood can do this too – and they can even send the projectile back to the shooter, which can be hard on a feller, because shooting oneself, even indirectly, can be a pretty nasty experience. Learn more

9. Never handle a gun when you are in an emotional state such as anger or depression.

Never handle a gun when you are in an emotional state such as anger or depression.

Your judgment may be impaired. Click here to read the full post.

10. Never shoot what you can't see.

Every year there are numerous deaths because some idiot shot at a sound or a movement. “It sounded like a deer” or “It moved like a turkey” is no excuse to pull the trigger. Continue reading.

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11. Educate everyone in the home about firearms safety – especially children.

Firearms are not toys! Emphasize the danger in, and outside, the home. Give reinforcement training frequently. See more

12. Always check for any obstruction in the barrel whenever there is reason to suspect a blockage.

Bore obstructions are a major source of gun explosions. Read the full post here.

13. Never use alcohol or 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. Continue reading.

14. Avoid threats.

The common-sense rule of threat avoidance: never do anything when you are armed that you wouldn't do if you weren't–i.e. intervening in a robbery, going outside your house to investigate noises, going to tell your drunken neighbor to shut up, etc. Think about leaving the gun behind. If you wouldn't do it without a gun–DON'T DO IT. Call the police, swallow your pride, take the loss–whatever. Don't carry a gun into a potential conflict where you feel you might need it. Avoid the situation. Simple advice, but sometimes difficult to follow. Don't be macho, be smart. Read more

15. Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.

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. Click here to read the whole article.

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16. Never hand a gun to anyone that doesn't understand and abide by these rules.

Once they are holding the gun, it is their, not your, responsibility to handle it safely, but you have your conscience to live with. Learn more

17. Never attempt to load or unload a gun inside a vehicle or building (except a properly constructed indoor range)

There usually is no safe direction to point the muzzle. Continue reading.

18. Never shoot a gun in celebration (the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve, for example).

Not only is this unsafe, but it is generally illegal. A bullet fired into the air will return to the ground with enough speed to cause injury or death. See more..

19. Keep guns away from children.

The safest thing for your family is not to keep a gun in the house. But, if you keep a gun at home, unload and lock it away. KEEP ALL AMMUNITION SEPARATE FROM THE GUN. Continue reading.

20. Always use trigger locks.

Keep the key where you need it, i.e., in reach of your bed, but never next to the lock. See more

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Want to know more? Check out these related articles:

The Basic Rules of Gun Safety

The Ultimate Survival Gun Safe Guide

Badass Hidden Gun Safe List



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  1. R.P.M.

    March 11, 2022 at 10:38 PM

    I guess there needs to be 21 rules to know. All too often this one is overlooked and not thought of especially in a tense or self defence situation but it is very important:

    Never Pull the Trigger without knowing what’s BEHIND your target!

    In the Portland Mall shooting, a CCW owner had a perfect bead on the gunman but, correctly, opted not to shoot because from his line of sight a missed or through-and-through shot could have hit some shopper fleeing the scene down the hallway.

  2. Lauren Adams

    July 13, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    I loved you advice to never hand a gun to someone that doesn’t abide the rules outlined in the article. While shooting a gun can be very fun, they can also be very dangerous. For example, keeping the gun pointed in safe direction is imperative to safety. Sometimes, the trigger can get accidentally pulled. If someone is standing in the way of the bullet, very terrible things can happen.

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