Firearm Safety Rules: The Basics

Gun Shop Vancouver WA

two handguns and bullets on displayBasic Rules of Firearm Safety

Post updated on October 6th, 2020

When approached correctly, target shooting and hunting are very safe activities. It’s a matter of always being mindful of the rules of firearm safety.

While some of the firearm safety rules listed below may seem like common sense, this advice is meant for complete beginners. However, it is designed to also serve as a refresher for everyone else interested in safety rules for firearms.

If you have any questions about this material or anything else on our website, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the firearm experts at Sporting Systems.

We sell new and vintage guns in Vancouver, Washington. We’re the only gun shop in Southwest Washington that combines guns, training, transfers, and exceptional customer service in a friendly and positive environment.

Now let’s take a look at some of the basics of firearm safety rules. We’ll go over safe gun handling, rules of gun safety precautions, and how gun owners should safely store their firearms and guns.

Basics of Firearm Safety

Never point a gun at anything or anywhere that you don’t intend to shoot.

Of all the basics of firearm safety rules, this is perhaps the most basic of all basics. Still, in moments of carelessness or distraction, some people lose their focus and jeopardize the safety of others. This problem most often manifests itself when people are loading or unloading and cleaning their firearms.

If you are pointing your weapon in a safe direction, an accidental discharge will hopefully do little more than startle everyone, and become a learning moment. When choosing a safe direction, you must also take into account the possibility of a bullet ricocheting or penetrating a barrier.

Never put your finger on the trigger until your gun is pointed at your target.

This is probably just as important as the first rule, but it’s likely an even more common mistake. Having your finger on the trigger or even simply through the trigger hole is a mistake that many amateurs and first-timers make. Unfortunately, it can also be a deadly mistake.

Do not place your finger on the trigger or even touch the trigger of your weapon until you are fully aware of the direction in which your weapon will discharge. And obviously, don’t pull the trigger until you know your target, are ready to fire, and your gun is pointed in a safe direction, taking into account what’s behind your target. (More on this below.)

Always assume your gun is loaded.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first two firearm safety rules on the list. Even if you are absolutely certain that your gun is clear, you should maintain a mindset that it is loaded. Always behave as if your gun is loaded. Doing so trains your mind to automatically consider the possibility every time you handle a gun and the potential moment when you might be mistaken.

Even well-seasoned gun handlers have human moments of feeling overconfident or distracted, so get in the practice of treating every gun as if it’s loaded. In fact, this tried-and-true rule of firearm safety is as old as weapons themselves.

In a 1913 book titled “The A B C of Rifle, Revolver and Pistol Shooting,” Ira L. Reeves writes, “There is just one answer to the question, ‘Is your gun loaded?’ and that is, Yes. The incorrect statement of a condition of your firearm of which you or no one else is certain is preferable to possible fatal injury to yourself or someone else.”

Unload weapons when they aren’t in use.

Another good practice that should become a habit. With the exception of guns you rely on for self-defense, there is no good reason to have a weapon loaded when it’s not being used. If you rely on a weapon to defend your family, and you have children who you worry about accessing your firearm, store your guns by placing them securely in a lockbox.

Understand your target.

At first glance, this rule may sound puzzling. Here is what you need to consider: What is the nature of the target? Will your bullets pass through or possibly ricochet? What is behind your target, and if a bullet passes through it or misses your target, will it pose a danger to a person or property?

Keep in mind the distance your bullet can travel, and what is possibly in its path, often out of sight. Similar concerns apply to hunting. Unless you see your target, don’t shoot. For instance, in hunting, don’t assume a rustling bush or sound is the deer you saw moments ago.

Sporting Systems: Your Vancouver Gun Shop

One final note: Please remember and understand that this is just an introduction to firearm safety rules. Stay tuned for a deeper discussion. In future posts, we’ll discuss how to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe while handling firearms.

We write often at the Sporting Systems blog. Keep an eye out for pieces on shooting ranges, shooting glasses, and more. (Regarding shooting glasses, always wear eye and ear protection when using firearms and ammunition.)

And as we mentioned above, please get in touch with Sporting Systems with any questions. We serve the greater Vancouver, Washington, area. We can also provide specialty items to other parts of the great Pacific Northwest, including Spokane, Boise, Seattle, and Pendleton.

As residents of this beautiful part of the country, we remain deeply committed to our community and to our neighbors. We’re also proud sponsors of Ducks Unlimited, which has helped conserve 14 million acres of wetlands. We’re also sponsors and life members of RMEF.


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