Gun Safety: There are No Second Chances

When you make a mistake with a gun, the results can be devastating. The vast majority of accidental firearm fatalities come about as a result of poor gun safety and slack discipline.

There are a few very simple steps you can take to develop a high standard of gun safety. However, it's important that you always remember that there's no such thing as a safe firearm. They are weapons with huge potential for harm, and should always be respected as such.

Gun Safety: There are No Second Chances

I gave credit to the Wood Carving Tools

The Gun is Always Loaded

This is one of the first gun safety lessons that every person hears when they first interact with a firearm. It doesn't matter whether you've checked a thousand times, removed the bolt or switched on the safety. A gun is ALWAYS loaded, and should absolutely be treated that way- There are far too many sad stories of firearm incidents where the shooter assumed the gun was not loaded, or that there were blank cartridges loaded. It's very easy to follow this one rule, however you must ensure that you always follow it. There are no exceptions. A gun is always loaded.

Always Maintain Barrel Safety

Never point the gun at something that you don't want to shoot. A simple rule, yet so often ignored by amateurs (and even some experts) when working with firearms. Point your barrel in a safe direction, either up or down (preferably down), at all times. This rule is very simple, but often forgotten in the heat of the moment. Plenty of people have swung away from a bullseye shot or a great shot while hunting and waved their barrel across their friends. Don't be that guy.

Watch that Trigger Finger!

Unless you intend on pulling the trigger, your finger should not be touching it. Until you are ready to fire the gun, always keep your finger straight, resting on the outside of the guard if necessary. if your trigger guard is removed {as they often are in situations where the shooter may need to wear gloves), you need to be even more careful about trigger safety.

Always Keep the Gun Unloaded.

A simple tenet of firearm safety is ensuring that your weapon is completely unloaded before storing it. Unless you're in a high crime area in a third world country, or an active combat situation, there is no need to keep a fully loaded weapon anywhere in your home. In many countries, regulations stipulate that your ammunition should be kept locked in a separate cabinet to your weapons. At the very least, you should always keep your gun unloaded. We don't need another sad story of a kid finding dad's gun in the bedside dresser drawer and using it to play cops and robbers with their sibling. 

Know Your Environment

If you're taking a shot and you don't know what's beyond your target, you're doing something wrong. Always be aware of your environment, and the potential ramifications of a missed shot. This is a pretty critical aspect of gun safety. The bullet will keep travelling until something stops it. Make sure that your target has a backdrop that doesn't contain other people, a highway, a fuel tank or something equally foolish. Just as importantly, be aware of your immediate surroundings. You don't want to trip over a rock and discharge the weapon into your foot.

Know Your Gun

Buying a gun and heading to the range doesn't make you a pro. Nor does spending years at the range. Until you understand the mechanics of your weapon and its firing and loading characteristics, you're an amateur. Understanding your gun is the first step to respecting it.

Use the Right Gear

Always use proper ammunition for your weapon. Sure, there are plenty of reloaders out there that get by fine for years using their own ammo. However, it only takes one mistake for things to turn nasty. Use the correct ammunition for your gun in the correct manner and you will greatly reduce the risk of something going wrong.

Clean Your Gun

There is no excuse for a poorly maintained weapon. Gun safety starts with maintenance. Always ensure that your barrel is clear of obstructions before loading the weapon. When you're finished with your gun, give it some tender love and care. Taking good care of your gun will instill discipline within your own mind, and will help you to be more aware of the responsibility you carry as a gun owner. It will also help with ensuring that the bullet leaves the rifle when you squeeze the trigger, because you don't want to go through the experience of that not happening.

Don't Trust the Gun

Guns can be fickle. They also have no way of taking care of themselves, so all responsibility comes down to you. if your gun fails to fire, don't assume it won't ever fire and immediately stare down the barrel to search for obstructions. Maintain barrel safety, and unload the weapon carefully. Dodgy rounds do happen, if rarely. When they do, you need to take extra care to unload the gun. Additionally, never, ever rely on a gun’s safety catch to prevent it from firing. These things are not 100°fi: reliable, particularly in older or heavily used weapons. Again, this goes back to the first rule - the gun is always loaded.

Grimm hopped out of his Jeep and was holding his camera and tripod when Deputy Jake Shaw, apparently confusing the items for weapons, fired at Grimm, hitting the photographer in the side.

At the end of the day, there is one thing that you must always remember: the buck stops with you. As a gun owner, or gun user, you must be the responsible one. Even with an instructor staring over your shoulder, only you can take the adequate steps to ensure the highest level of gun safety possible.

Guns are, by their very nature, incredibly dangerous weapons. There have been countless instances of people failing to follow the basic tenets outlined above, and too often the results are fatal. Even if you or your victim survives, the damages from a gunshot wound can last for a lifetime. It's not like the movies. When you get shot, you're down.

Gun safety is YOUR responsibility. Don't forget it. Using a gun is a great privilege, to the extent that it is a right in many nations of the world. However, with that privilege comes great responsibility. Follow these rules, and happy shooting!

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