Firearms safety is the unique combination of gospel and controversy. While the 4 basic rules (though they are often worded differently, depending on the source) are universally recognized as gospel and while we will touch on them as a refresher, we won’t debate or harp on the nuances of the various phrasings. I think we all can agree with the basic intent. See? We all CAN just get along…
The 4 universal rules of gun safety are:
- Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
- Be sure of your target and what is behind it. These rules provide the basics of firearms safety, but there are numerous other things you can do to enhance your safety. We will cover a few of those and give a short discussion on them.
- Clear the weapon when you pick it up or it is handed to you.– Clearing the weapon is a simple way to verify that the weapon is unloaded and as safe as it possibly can be. In the service, you are handed your weapon from the arms room with the bolt or slide locked to the rear, and (if your armorer has half a brain…) he has already checked the chamber when he drew it from the rack. But even then, you should check the chamber to ensure it is empty and no magazine is in the weapon. In the civilian and LEO communities, this is not always the case. It is best that you clear the weapon as well, and then maintain the safety laid out in the 4 basic rules.
- Don’t rely on your weapons safety.– Many modern handguns do not have manual safeties so this is a moot point. When Glock first hit the market this created a veritable firestorm of controversy. Many seasoned instructors argued that this was more of a training issue than a safety one, and I agree with them. The ultimate safety, as taught to me by a crusty old CW4 from the Special Forces is your brain. It is connected to the finger which is the ultimate safety. We all remember this iconic line.
“This is my safety sir.”-Norm Hooten, Blackhawk Down. And he is right. No matter what weapon you are using, the safety is simply an added precaution. Ultimately, “Keeping your booger hook off the bang switch is the best safety of all.” Thanks Chief!
3. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually in Use.– And here is where we begin some of the controversy. While overall I agree with this premise, stored firearms are best left unloaded many people will say that ALL firearms are best left unloaded. Well, what about my home defense and duty weapons? I would argue that this is largely dependent on your lifestyle and household situation. Do you have kids? Roommates? Frequent visitors? Everyone has to evaluate their unique situation and make the best decision for themselves on this part.
4. Use the correct ammunition for your weapon.- Seems like common sense, right? Well, it’s not, and it gets us deeper into the controversy. The obvious issues are when you fire a round in one caliber, through a weapon chambered in a different caliber, you get bad things to happen. If you are lucky, you won’t cause serious damage to your weapon, or you. Here are some images of possible results.
And this is a disaster waiting to happen!
But then there is the issue of people saying you cannot shoot 7.62X51 NATO ammo in a 308 or 5.56 in a .223. Well, we will be doing an article on this and the realities of doing so from a mathematical standpoint in the near future. But the best practice is, use the right ammo.
5. Be sure your barrel is free from obstructions.– While this also seems like common sense, you would be amazed… While the likelihood of getting an obstruction going from the home to the range is pretty tiny, with hunters in the field this is not the case. While getting to your stand, hide, or whatever it is shockingly easy to pick up an obstruction that may be tiny but could have disastrous results, like these. These are a semiauto shotgun, 30.06, and an 870.
6. Always wear eye and hearing protection.– Again, seems like common sense, but how many videos have you seen where some yahoo hands a lady or kid a weapon (usually with other painful results because the guy giving it to them is an idiot, to begin with) and they don’t have on any eye or ear protection? How many videos have you seen where a shooter was wearing eyes and ears and it saved their sight or even death? Just do it.
There are many more that we could give you, and will over the coming months. But these are some basic ones that can make your life much easier and healthier. We hope these help someone, and if you have a tip, please drop it in the comment section!