Critical gun safety rules
Critical gun safety rules
Before we talk about anything else, you must commit to these simple but very important rules:
- Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded until you personally know it isn’t.
- Only point the firearm at things you are willing to destroy.
- Always be sure of your target and what’s behind it.
- Only put your finger on the trigger / inside the trigger guard when you are ready to fire.
Modern, quality firearms do not just fire on their own, even if dropped or bumped. 99.9% of gun accidents are caused by human error. By strictly following those rules, you don’t allow the circumstances where something bad can happen to begin with.
And it’s not the sort of thing where people get more relaxed with those rules as they become more experienced — in fact, the most advanced gun owners are typically the most stubborn about these rules because they know how important this framework is. That’s why you’ll hear old timers angrily call out things like “muzzle discipline!” at the shooting range when someone new waves their barrel in the wrong direction.
It is your responsibility that firearms are safe, secure, and locked away from people or children who shouldn’t get to them. There are 1.7 million children in the US that live in homes with loaded but unlocked firearms. There are often serious legal punishments if you are careless with a gun, like leaving a loaded gun where a small child can access it.
The basic steps and gear you need
If you just want to go from “never had a gun” to “the bare minimum to protect myself and be responsible”, this is a typical set of needed gear and steps to take:
- Read this guide and the best first guns guide so you have general ideas of what you want to end up with.
- Go to a local gun store or shooting range where you can work with a salesperson or instructor to try firing some weapons before choosing which to buy.
- Better yet, go with a trusted buddy who can loan you and teach you with their gear.
- When you buy, the firearm should come with a wire safety lock that loops through the chamber and magazine, making it physically incapable of firing. It may also come with a good-enough storage/carrying case you can use until buying a proper one.
- If you live in a household with at-risk people (kids, suicidal, handicapped), get a lockbox or gun safe to keep the gun and ammo out of the wrong hands.
- Buy ammo. You’ll use at least a few hundred rounds to practice with and get to know your weapon. It’s okay to buy cheaper rounds while you’re learning the ropes.
- Read the manual to learn how to make your specific firearm safe, how to load and unload it, whether the manufacturer suggests any steps for breaking it in, and how to perform a basic “field cleaning” (the maintenance you’ll do after a day of shooting).
- Buy a gun cleaning kit specific to your caliber.
- You’ll need ear and eye protection (unless you wear sturdy glasses).
- Sign up for a local beginner’s class, which can be as simple as a one-hour lesson on a weekend afternoon. If you go to a shooting range outside of an organized class, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- You don’t need to become a gun-slingin’ marksman, but you do need to feel proficient. A chaotic, emotional emergency is not the time to be fumbling with a gun. Spend a few days learning the basics, and try to dust off the cobwebs once a year — shooting accurately and safely is a diminishable skill, meaning it needs a little practice once in a while.