1. Always Keep The Muzzle In A Safe Direction
This rule is the primary rule of gun safety; if it is never pointed at anyone, it can’t hit them, no matter if all other rules are broken. If you’re on a gun range, a safe direction is downrange, and either up, or down, or both, depending on the range’s rules. If you’re carrying a rifle or a pistol around, it’s the same; down or up.
When I travel, I like to point the gun away from me in the car, and I sit it down facing away from me in the hotel. You shouldn’t walk in front of a gun you are not sure is unloaded when it’s lying there, and you definitely should never wave the muzzle around, causing it to point at people. When done in a wide arc, it’s called “sweeping” and is very poor form that will get you asked to go home.
It’s a seriously important rule that is number one in the NRA and CMP books. This is an inversion of the second of the classic 4 Laws of Gun Safety that says “never point the gun at something you are not willing to destroy.”
2. Always Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot
This is rule two for the NRA, three for the CMP, and four for the Classic Laws. Ever see the video of someone re-holstering a Glock with their finger in the trigger guard, or carrying it Mexican-carry and grabbing at it if it gets loose a la Plaxico Burress? They shoot themselves, and, if anything is more embarrassing than someone else shooting you, it’s shooting yourself.
When handling a gun, you should never have your finger inside the trigger guard unless you mean to be firing, or possibly firing, immediately. If you’re building your firing position and getting your natural point of aim on the firing line, have your finger on the trigger. If you’re going to dry fire a gun, check that it is clear, double check it is in a safe direction, then apply your finger to the trigger. If you’re holding someone at gunpoint, keep the gun on him, put your finger on the trigger, and watch his hands for sudden movements.
The rest of the time, keep your booger hook off the bang switch, and this goes double for any photography of you with weapons. As an aside, in today’s day and age, I don’t recommend being in photos, especially on social media, with guns, due to PC cultures and SJWs.
3. Always Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use
This is rule 3 for the NRA, and an inversion of the first of the Classic Laws “the gun is always loaded.” An unloaded gun is a safe gun, because all that will happen with an accidental firing is a dry-fire, instead of a discharge.
Obviously, leave your home protection and carry guns loaded, and load when appropriate while hunting and at the range, but, otherwise, treat the gun with the same respect due a loaded gun.
Other Rules And Guidelines
- Be sure of your target and what is behind it. This is the third of the Classic Laws.
- Use an empty chamber indicator. This is the CMP Rule 2, and means to use a chamber flag on an open action to show it’s locked open when not being fired on a firing line.
- Use hearing and eye protection. Good plugs, or muffs (or even both) and safety glasses or side shields on eye glasses are always recommended. Obviously, in case of hostile action, you may not have time.
- Know how to operate the gun. Read the damn manual, and make sure it is in a functional condition that is safe to use, as in not filthy or dirty.
- Use the correct ammo. Use ammo that is the correct caliber or type for the gun, and that isn’t too powerful. Use commercial ammo, unless they’re your reloads and you know what you’re doing (or reloads from someone you trust that knows what they’re doing).
- Don’t drink or use drugs prior to shooting. Put this up with “driving or operating heavy machinery.”
- Store guns safely and securely. Unloaded, clean, and locked up.
- Use a good holster that covers the trigger and the safety (if applicable.) Remember Stranahan’s first law of concealed carry.
- Don’t shoot something that will ricochet the round back at you. Steel targets that can’t swing will do this. Be sure to be at minimum safe range for steel, as well, which is usually 25 yards for pistol and 100 yards for rifles.