How to handle a firearm safely

Posted on 17th Sep 2018

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced “a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shows that 101.6 million Americans—40 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older—participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. The survey illustrates gains in wildlife watching—particularly around the home—and fishing, with moderate declines in the number of hunters nationally. The findings reflect a continued interest in engaging in the outdoors. These activities are drivers behind an economic powerhouse, where participants spent $156 billion—the most in the last 25 years, adjusted for inflation”.

With 101.6 million Americans getting ready for the Fall hunting season around the United States, it is important to implement firearm safety to avoid accidents and harm to self and others.

Here are the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety:

  1. Watch muzzle
    Keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times. This is the PRIMARY rule of gun safety.
  2. Firearm respect
    Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun. It might be loaded, even if you think it isn’t.
  3. Target awareness
    Know your target and what is in front of it and all around it. Check out your backstop. Don’t shoot at water, flat or hard surface.
  4. Trigger Guard
    Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot which will prevent an accidental discharge. When holding a gun, rest your finger alongside the frame and outside the trigger guard. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  1. Check your barrel and ammunition
    Make sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions, and carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
  2. Unload firearms
    Make sure to unload firearms when not in use. Leave actions open, and carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.
  1. Point only when shooting
    Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot. Avoid any horseplay with a gun.
  2. Don’t jump, climb or run with a loaded firearm
    Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.
  1. Store firearms and ammunition separately
    Store each in secured locations beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
  2. 10.No alcohol around shooting
    Avoid alcohol and mind-altering medicines or drugs before and during shooting.

Enjoy hunting and stay safe!

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How to handle a firearm safely

Recently firearm safety has been a topic of much discussion across the Internet, in part due to the recent press Remington received regarding people injured when a rifle discharged while pointed in an unsafe direction. When working with or around firearms, safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Colonel Jeff Cooper first codified the “Four Rules of Firearm Safety” which are:

Rule 1 : All guns are always loaded. Rule 2: Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Rule 3: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. Rule 4: Be sure of your target.

These rules have been amended and modified over the years, and the principle remains the same. Let’s go over them one by one and discuss what they mean and their importance.

Rule 1: All Guns Are Always Loaded

This is probably one of the most controversial rules, as it is obvious there are times when a firearm is not loaded. Some people have modified this rule to read, “Treat all guns as if they are loaded” or even “Always know the condition of your firearm.” However you choose to word it, the principle remains the same: Treat a firearm with the respect it deserves, assuming it is loaded until proven and verified otherwise. Furthermore, always respect others around you by acknowledging that they probably do not know whether a firearm is loaded or not.

Rule 2: Never Let the Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing to Destroy

Along with Rule 3, this is one of the most important rules. Abide by this rule, and even if you ignore the other rules, the chances of something getting injured, hurt, or destroyed are much diminished.

Almost every injury or death that has ever resulted from the accidental discharge of a firearm could have been avoided if the muzzle had been pointed in a safe direction.

How to handle a firearm safely

How to handle a firearm safely

What is a safe direction? Generally, a firearm muzzle should be pointed towards the ground, downrange or, at a minimum, away from where people are. Some say it is safe to point a muzzle towards the sky or ceiling, such as when carrying a slung rifle or shotgun and, in general, this is true.

Always remember that what goes up always comes back down and when a firearm is discharged into the air, it is possible someone could be killed or injured or property destroyed when the projectile lands.

Rule 3: Keep Your Finger off the Trigger Until Your Sights Are on the Target

This rule, along with Rule 2, is one of the most important rules of firearm safety.

Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard. I’m going to repeat this once more: Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire. Though the possibility exists, the chances of a firearm going off without the trigger being pulled are astronomically slim. The number one reason a firearm discharges is because the trigger was pulled. By following this one simple rule, you can virtually eliminate the chance your firearm will discharge when you did not intend it to.

Rule 4: Be Sure of Your Target

Many people modify this rule to read, “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.” Why is this so important? It’s very important because you are responsible for every bullet fired by a gun you are in control of until that bullet comes to a stop.

Bullets do not always stop after they hit your target. You may be sure that your target is a deer; do you know what lies beyond the deer? Even if you land a solid hit on your target it is not only possible, it is likely, especially when hunting, that your bullet will continue down range for a considerable distance until gravity eventually pulls it down to earth.

If you are firing against an earthen berm or other backstop, you need to know it will reliably stop the rounds you fire into it. Know your firearm, know where it is aimed, know what your target is, and what lies beyond your target.

These are the four basic rules of firearm safety. This article covers basic firearm safety when working with or around firearms, and don’t forget other safety aspects such as safe and secure firearm storage.

It is your responsibility, as a gun owner, to handle firearms in a safe manner. You also need to keep your firearms stored safely and securely.

Have a safety tip? Share it in the comment section.

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  • Intro to Firearm Safety

About the Author

Avid outdoorsman who loves to spend his time fishing, hunting, and golfing or just about anything outdoors! If he can’t make it to the woods or water, chances are you can find him walking his dogs. Follow Alex P. as he tackles questions, and read his reviews of todays new products!

    Firearm Safety

Intro to Firearm Safety

Shooting and hunting can be extremely fun and is by far one of the safest sports you can become involved in because firearm safety is everyone’s responsibility. In this guide, we will go over the basic safety rules and best practices to ensure you have a fun and safe experience with firearms.

Whether you intend to participate or observe, you need eye and ear protection. You can usually borrow or rent them if needed, but investing in quality, comfortable eye and ear protection makes the overall experience much more enjoyable. The eye protection should be ballistic-rated, and the ear protection can be ear muffs or earplugs. However, the best ear protection for recreational shooting is electronic hearing protection since it still allows you to hear safe background noises, such as people talking or range commands, without difficulty.

The basic rules of firearm safety work best as a system. Even if you fail to follow one, the others should still prevent an accident. Starting from when you remove a firearm from a safe or case to when you’re putting it away, following these rules will keep you, and those around you, safe.

4 Rules of Firearm Safety:

Treat all guns as if they are loaded.

The only way to be 100% sure a firearm is unloaded is to check for yourself. Even after you have checked the chamber and magazine, no one else around you can tell if the gun is loaded or not. By treating the firearm as if it was loaded, you will inherently have more respect and intent for how you are handling the firearm.

Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy.

Even when you know for a fact that a firearm is unloaded, it is still very uncomfortable to have one pointed at you. In the worst case scenario that a firearm is unknowingly loaded and is discharged, you avoid doing damage by ensuring that the firearm is pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.

Flinches or reflexive squeezes can happen. By keeping your finger away from the trigger, you drastically reduce the chance of an accidental discharge. While mechanical safeties are highly recommended and should be used, they can always fail so do not count on them alone to prevent an accident from lazy habits. Be intentional with your finger placement and movement.

Be sure of your target and what is behind and around it.

You should always be able to clearly identify your target. Far too many accidents result from people shooting at a noise in the dark or what they thought was an animal in the woods. Similarly, whether you miss or if the bullet passes through the target, you can end up hitting things around or behind your target. You need to be able to clearly identify what is behind your target and what is within close proximity to it.

By wearing protective gear and following the 4 Rules of Gun Safety, you can have a fun and safe time hunting, range training, or during any other shooting activities.

Our West Coast correspondent, a longtime gun owner, breaks down the dos and don’ts of keeping a firearm in the house.

How to handle a firearm safely

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You did it. You just joined the ranks of the millions of Americans who own a gun. I’ve had years of experience handling firearms — as part of my work in the military and law enforcement, recreationally, and for home defense. For many people, however, the novel coronavirus has been the catalyst for purchasing a first weapon. I want to be clear: Buying a firearm isn’t the same as stockpiling toilet paper. And it’s a grave — potentially lethal — mistake to simply toss a powerful weapon under a mattress or prop it up in a garage.

Owning a gun introduces real risk. States with high rates of ownership experience significantly more accidental shootings , which often injure or kill children. Numerous studies show that access to firearms increases the odds of suicide. And a gun’s introduction into a home with domestic violence can have fatal consequences. (In fact, there are already reports of shootings with guns purchased during the coronavirus sales surge.) People who purchase firearms incur a share of responsibility to help mitigate these risks, and learning as much as you can about proper safety and the operation of your weapon is paramount.

Under ideal circumstances, you’d have time to research and contemplate your purchase. But we don’t live in ideal times — and now you’ve got a new gun in the house.

Handle your weapon with extreme care

  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle of the firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Don’t place your finger near the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • Always identify your target — and what lies in front of and behind it.

No matter what type of gun you have or what scenario you find yourself in, these rules are your Bible. Your Old Testament of safety. They will never fail you — and can save you from accidents that unfortunately happen all too often .

Store your gun safely

If you lined up for a gun in response to the coronavirus crisis, you bought a weapon for self defense, and you want to be able to quickly access it in an emergency. But the reality is: You won’t have eyes on your weapon at all times. Research shows that in 70 to 90 percent of youth suicides, unintentional shootings , and mass shootings , the person pulling the trigger used weapons belonging to family or friends. Plus, unsafely stored guns can present an opportunity for thieves .

The good news is: You can have ready access to your weapon, while simultaneously placing a barrier between your gun and people who shouldn’t be touching it. Find a safe or a lock , and practice accessing your weapon.

Read the manual

Operating a gun isn’t as simple as plugging in a new television. Guns are not always the most intuitive. Firearms come in a variety of models, with different purposes. They also break down and malfunction in a plethora of ways. So, sit down and read the manual. Carefully. There are a ton of YouTube videos out there with instructions on how to use your gun, and also how to break it down. You probably have time on your hands these days, anyway.

Clean your weapon

Guns, unlike cars, are not sold ready to “roll off the lot.” If you bought your weapon new, you may notice a thick greasy coating . This grease is for packing purposes, and typically attracts dirt and muck, which is less than ideal for firing. It’s imperative that you remove this gunk, and keep your weapon clean for the foreseeable future. This job is infinitely easier with a cleaning kit .

Train with it

There’s a big difference between casually firing off some rounds with a new weapon, and actual training. I always extol the virtue of finding a solid, experienced firearm instructor and seeking their guidance. But training doesn’t stop there. Proper firearm manipulation — reloading, drawing, and clearing — are acts that are also crucial to firearm safety. Dry-fire practice can be an effective training supplement, allowing users to grasp these concepts in the comfort of one’s home, away from distractions and live fire. Such training can be done safely. Just make sure the gun is unloaded before handling it. And then check it again — just to be sure.

This brief beginner’s guide to proper gun handling will help you become more confident and effective with your chosen firearm in any circumstance.

Gun Handling for New Gun Owners

Using a gun isn’t really as simple as “point and shoot.”

In reality, how you handle a gun can affect how safe you are with a firearm, whether or not you’re ready for a hunting trip, and your overall accuracy.

To Load or Not to Load

Should your gun be loaded or unloaded?

A good general rule of thumb is that, unless you are about to use the weapon or you are conceal-carrying a pistol, your weapon should be unloaded at all times.

This prevents misfires and the types of accidents you read about on the internet, where some average joe assumes his gun is unloaded and accidentally shoots his toe off.

In fact, that leads us to another important point: always act like every gun is loaded, even if you are 100% sure that it’s not.

That’s because you can never be 100% sure that a firearm is totally unloaded, and practicing good firearm safety relies on this cornerstone.

Barrel Direction

In league with the above points, every responsible firearm owner will keep their barrel pointed at the ground at all times unless, again, they’re about to take a shot.

This goes for hunters, target shooters, and even people in self-defense situations. If you raise the barrel at your target, you must intend to shoot.

How to handle a firearm safely

Never swing your barrel around willy-nilly, even if you think the gun is unloaded. Remember, it may not be!

The ground is the ideal place to aim your gun since a bullet fired in the air can (although it’s unlikely) come down at an angle and injure or kill somebody far in the distance.

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How well do people know about gun safety? Every gun owner pretty much knows how to handle their firearm in a safe manner, yet the potential for danger cannot be ignored.

Gun Safety Practices To Prevent Gun-Related Accidents

Gun safety among all others has to follow strict rules to ensure no one gets hurt. Even when you’re around people who are knowledgeable and skilled in firearms, these rules are non-negotiable. Whether you’re hunting with a friend, in the firing range, or any place where a gun is doing work, the appropriate manner to deal with a gun still holds true. A little mistake can be deadly, and as soon as the bullet exits the muzzle, there’s no stopping it. It can mean yours, or someone else’s life if you’re not careful.

1. Always Assume The Gun Is Loaded

Make it a habit to check the chamber especially when you just held a gun. Do this when you take something out from your gun safe, or when another person hands you over his firearm. He might insist the gun is not loaded, but double check anyway just to be certain.

2. Gun Must Always Be Pointed In A Safe Direction

The muzzle of a gun should be pointed upwards or down at the ground. For whatever reason of accidental firing, nobody gets a direct hit within at least a radius of a mile. Your gun should only be pointed at a target you’re willing to shoot.

3. Finger Off The Trigger

I’m guilty of this mistake many times in the past. My finger was always rested lightly on the trigger every time I’m holding a handgun, which should not be the case unless you’re ready to shoot. Gladly, I quit the habit once and for all.

4. Don’t Rely Too Much On A Gun’s Safety Mechanism

Setting your gun into safe mode using its safety lever or locking mechanism doesn’t mean you could just point the gun at anyone. Treat it simply as an added safeguard. You’ll never know if this part of your firearm is faulty, so don’t put a hundred percent of your trust in it.

5. Be Familiar With Your Gun’s Mechanical Characteristics

Knowing how your gun works will also help reduce the risk of unwanted accidents. Like for example, you have a semi-automatic handgun and you took the magazine out. You have to know how to double check if there’s one more bullet in the chamber.

6. Make Sure To Use The Right Ammunition For Your Gun

There have been cases where a 9mm ammo is loaded into a .40 caliber magazine. It accepts the wrong ammo and even gets chambered inside the gun ready for firing. This mistake blows out the case which is not good for the gun, and certainly dangerous for the shooter.

7. Clear The Gun Barrel From Obstructions Before Shooting

Proper firearm maintenance is always necessary. Make it a point to always clear the barrel from any blockage before using your gun. This could cause the barrel to burst due to a spike in pressure.

Watch this short video about gun safety:

Learning how to shoot a gun is a very satisfying skill to learn for first timers. However, being able to pull the trigger and hit the target isn’t all that matters. The shooter must practice discipline to protect himself and others from unwanted circumstances. As long as you respect these simple rules, you’re ready to own a firearm.

What do you think of these gun safety tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Think you’re ready to own your first handgun? Take a look at these 36 best handguns you will ever need!

So you’re wandering around the street on a beautiful day and look down to see a pistol just laying there on the open ground. Sure, you know how to safely handle a handgun. You know to check a firearm to see if it’s loaded. But what do you do now?

Taking custody of a firearm when you do not know its origin is a potentially risky venture.

In all likelihood, there’s a good possibility someone just dropped his or her gun. Sometimes that’s because they use the wrong type of holster.

For whatever reason, if you find a firearm unattended, there’s a judgement call you need to make between taking custody of it and reporting it to police or simply reporting it to police and allowing them to collect it.

The latter option is ideal in any case where there’s little chance of someone else wandering by and picking it up.

A missing gun is important to keep track of because that’s a gun that — if left unattended — could wind up in the wrong hands.

So, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll go over the ‘ideal’ course of action and then we’ll talk about individual judgement calls that someone may have to make if he runs across an unattended gun out in public.

What You Should Do If You Find A Gun Left Unattended

Scenario: Firing Range

If you’re at a firing range and see a gun left unattended, contact a Range Safety Officer and have him or her take custody of that firearm until the owner comes back. While nobody should ever leave a gun unattended at a range, it could potentially happen.

Scenario: Out in public

If you are out in public and encounter a gun left unattended, call the police and inform them you discovered a firearm laying on the ground. Ideally, you want them to take custody of it. You don’t want your fingerprints touching it. You don’t want to move it.

It’s not because the gun will go off. It’s not because people will automatically assume you’re some crazed maniac. The reason is much more simple: you don’t know where the gun has been or what the previous user did with it.

The police will determine all of that.

Wait by the gun until police arrive and explain the circumstances under which you discovered it. In most cases, the police will ask you some questions and then take the gun into custody. It’s their problem now. If the owner left it unattended, he can get it back from them.

Scenario: Inside someone else’s home (or on someone else’s property)

If you see a gun left unattended inside someone else’s home or while on or about their property, just inform them that it’s there. Once they are made aware, it’s their problem. Again, don’t attempt to move the gun or touch it. While I personally think it’s silly to leave guns around a house in plain view and unattended, if it’s not my property and there’s no evident danger, that’s the owner’s responsibility.

Now that we’ve tackled the three places you’re most likely to encounter a gun — in very broad and general terms — let’s talk about less than ideal circumstances.

Scenario: You spot a gun laying on the ground in a place where there is a real chance of someone (i.e. kids) interacting with it OR see a gun laying in the open street where it can be repeatedly run over and hit by traffic.

For this example, we’ll use a public or municipal park during a weekend. People are out and about, running around with their families, and there are kids around. For whatever reason, you have to move it in a reasonable effort to prevent potential harm coming to anyone else.

Before you do anything, call the police. Inform them of the situation and seek their guidance prior to moving the firearm. This lets them know why you would be moving a gun that could potentially be evidence from the scene.

In that unique case, remember: treat every gun as if it is loaded.

Keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Keep your finger clear and off the trigger.

If you can use a handkerchief, cloth, or napkin to keep a barrier between the gun and your hand, that’s an added bonus.

Rack the slide to the rear. If a round was loaded, it will likely eject. Eject the magazine. Visually inspect the chamber to ensure no round is loaded and the barrel is always facing the ground. Keep the slide locked to the rear and magazine well clear. Do not attempt to put the gun into a bag or briefcase.

Remember: you are only moving this gun because it poses a clear and discernible risk to others if left unattended.

Move the unloaded gun to the nearest place that it is not in direct danger. Put it on the ground and wait for police to arrive. Follow their instructions once they arrive.

In conclusion, if you find a gun laying out in public, inform the police and let them handle it.

How to handle a firearm safely

How to handle a firearm safely

Gun safety and firearm control are controversial topics of discussion, but something that we can no longer look away from. The American culture of gun violence has spawned several incidents of shootings where one or several innocent victims have lost their lives.

It is highly debatable whether we need to impart gun education in schools. Since kids require parental consent and approval to sign up for such classes, many such education initiatives have run into roadblocks while being implemented.

Irresponsible use of guns has lead to a large number of deaths. In 2015, on an average rate, 37 Americans were killed by guns every day. On an average, a toddler shot someone about once a week and 19 toddlers have shot and killed themselves in 2015.

It is important that we keep our guns away, safe and secure, and protect our little ones from harming themselves or others. Here are a few reasons why benefits of controlled gun education may actually outweigh the cons.

Analyze Effectiveness of Education

Gun rights activists oppose gun safety education because the entire learning is based on the premise that a gun is something to be feared.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) – supported Eddie Eagle program teaches kids that if they spot a gun they should ‘Stop. Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult’. These are the all-important four rules of gun safety. Kids in classes K-6 are taught that guns are best left alone and they should not try to handle them. But some experts are of the opinion that the more forbidden a firearm becomes, the more curious a child gets.

Marjorie Sanfilippo, a noted psychologist, is of the opinion that children are too young to understand the gravity of situation or consequences of their actions. A study jointly carried out by Marjorie and ABC found that despite education children picked up guns, peered down barrel and played with them. So the best thing to do would be to place firearms out of reach of children.

The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence offers STAR (Straight Talk About Risks) program to K- 12 schoolchildren teaching them about anger management, conflict resolution and the damaging effects of using firearms to resolve conflicts. The point being raised against STAR is that it teaches kids that gun ownership is bad.

Do Not Instill Fear in Kids

Many safety education programs want to make children wary and cautious around firearms. But this may not be the right approach.

Fear makes children anxious, worried and unsure around a gun. When young children are scared they tend to make mistakes. They might try to wrongly handle the gun or try to get it away, leading to mishaps. Also, one third of Americans own guns and many children grow up in homes that have firearms. So it is better if they develop a stable relationship with their tools rather than learn to be scared.

In states with higher gun ownership rates it is necessary that children develop a healthy outlook regarding guns. It is the parents’ duty to help children realize the responsibility that comes with possessing a gun. They should be taught to respect, care for and use their firearms responsibly. And the best way to do this is by parents setting a good example for their little ones.

Teach Your Kids Well

The more mysterious and off-limits a gun is, the more tempting it will be for children, especially boys.

Some schools in Colorado have allowed NRA to impart gun training to middle school kids. It is mainly aimed at giving children an idea about how to deal with firearms, if they ever come across one. Safety is given topmost priority in the training program and children are taught to check whether the chamber and magazine are empty. They are also taught to always point the gun down and in a safe direction, among various other safe handling skills. Kids should absolutely be taught to employ these same safety measures even if they are handling a “bee bee”, paintball gun, or perhaps even an airsoft gun of some kind. This is growing in popularity among our nation’s youth – kids should treat these with the same respect, care, and attention to safety that they would in handling an actual firearm. If you are dealing with paintball accessories and equipment, or airsoft accessories, safety measures are still critical!

Many parents want gun safety to be left to their discretion, just like religion. If you want to teach your kids gun use, then it will be best if you do not rely on the school alone. Get your child a BB gun that will help him or her pick up the right safety habits. Take the child along on short hunting trips so that he watches and learns from you. It is important that your child learns to respect his guns and the game that is hunted. He should be taught to care for the meat and not let anything go to waste. As your child watches you practice excellent safety habits, not waste any part of the hunted animal and treat tools with respect your child will also learn the same.

Be Involved in Your Children’s Learning

Children, especially those in higher grades and middle school, need to be taught conflict management through peaceful means and they should know the untold suffering and pain that a single wrong shot can inflict.

Be involved in your child’s life, both at school as well as outside. Know about friends he enjoys spending time with. Video game violence, bullying and a glamorized gun culture are all equally responsible for driving our kids towards wrong use of firearms.

If you feel that your child is troubled or under stress, talk to him about it and provide whatever support you can. Speak to teachers and to school authorities if you feel that there are serious issues or problems among students. Keep a close eye on the personality of your child to spot any changes.

Little children should know that firearms are not toys and they should not touch them. Your best bet is to keep guns under lock and key, far out of reach of your kids.


Gun culture is an integral part of the revolutionary history of our great nation. If we teach our kids responsible use of and respect towards guns, and keep firearms far out of reach of toddlers and small children, there would not be unfortunate gun-related deaths anymore.