Firearms and ammunition are a common part of many preparedness-minded people’s stocks. However, far fewer preppers take the time to learn even elementary gun safety which could potentially expose them and the people they intend to protect to unnecessary danger. This post is going to cover some of the basics of gun safety, including the “Four Rules” that many enthusiasts have memorized. Even if you have a good deal of firearm experience, I recommend that you take the time to refresh yourself once more: a little safety never hurt anyone!
What Are The Four Basic Rules Of Firearm Safety?
The Four Rules are a simple list of the most basic rules to use your weapon safely. They are used to teach almost every shooter, young and old, and are among the simplest and most important things to know before you ever use a firearm.
The list is as follows:
1. Always Treat Every Weapon As If It Is Loaded.
Some instructors prefer to say that “All weapons are always loaded”, but both basically mean the same thing. Whenever you pickup a rifle out of a safe, draw a handgun from its holster, or load up a shotgun to take it to a range, you always treat it as if it could fire off a shot. The idea behind this rule is to ingrain this attitude so much that even in unfamiliar situations and circumstances with weapons you’ve never seen, you’ll never forget to treat it with the proper gravity and respect it deserves.
2. Never Point A Weapon At Anything You Do Not Intend To Destroy.
That really says it all, doesn’t it? You can’t accidentally shoot someone because “I thought it was unloaded” if the weapon isn’t ever pointed at them. This rule is also good for any shooter who has the bad habit of thoughtlessly “muzzle-sweeping”, or swinging the muzzle of the firearm where a bullet could potentially fire out and hit people, when carrying.
3. Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Beyond It.
Hunters in particular know this rule, as they must be extremely careful to know for certain that the deer or squirrel they’re shooting at truly is a deer or a squirrel. All of the “sorry I thought you were a -” comments in the world don’t help someone who just took buckshot to the chest. Being sure of what is beyond your target is also important, because that bullet isn’t always going to stop when it impacts what you’re shooting at. Is there an innocent person 100 feet downrange? What about a piece of metal that could ricochet a round and cause it to hit someone else? You need to know what will happen once the bullet is fired and it is travelling downrange, or you need to not shoot at all.
4. Keep Your Finger Off Of The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target.
It doesn’t matter if the safety is on or if you’re just trying to get that cool shot for a picture, your finger never gets near the trigger until you are ready to fire and destroy something. Unless you are in a combat zone with enemies all around, you should always be concerned that a muscle twitch, stumble, or shock could cause you to twitch that trigger one time and fire off a shot you never intended.
Additional Safety Tips
Those four rules will do much to keep you safe when holding a firearm, as they all work together to protect everyone present aside from a potential target from being shot. They are not perfect, and you always need to be aware of what is going on around you, but they will do much. However, there are some other helpful tips that can assist you in keeping safe around firearms in other situations as well.
If its not on your person or nearby for protection, it should be in a locked safe. As I have heard many, many times, “I never want to be shot with my own gun”. Thieves and looters can case your home, looking for signs of weapons that they can steal when you’re not present or asleep. A safe won’t stop them forever, but it’s superior to the old “stick it on the top shelf of my closet” method. A locked safe also assists in protecting children and irresponsible/stupid adults from themselves, since they shouldn’t be able to access any weapon in your home without your direct approval.
Some argue that weapons should be disassembled and/or unloaded first before storage. Aside from local, state, or Federal regulations that demand certain storage methods, my recommendation is to choose what is safest in your situation. A weapon that is unloaded or disassembled is not as easily accessed if you need it in a hurry, so take that into consideration before making your final decision. The last thing I will say is that regardless of your decision in this matter to still always treat the weapons as loaded.
Please, for the love of safety, use a holster. I don’t care where you carry on your person, but use a holster. Shoving a gun into your pants is just asking for it to fall, catch on your pants, or somehow accidentally discharge. Rifles and shotguns should have slings or some other method of carrying them if you won’t be able to hold them in a safe position the whole time.
I do not recommend having weapons and children in the home without teaching them the proper respect and safety lessons for firearms. Kids are curious, and it’s much much safer for everyone involved if the child knows that he shouldn’t ever play with guns and what he should do if another child starts behaving unsafely with one. That said, even the most mature and respectful child is still not an adult, so always always always supervise them closely with any weapon including BB guns. Beyond that, take every step possible to ensure that they cannot handle your weapons without having your direct approval. Lock the weapons away securely, and never leave weapons unattended.
What If I Or Another Member Of The Household Refuses To Use A Firearm?
I still recommend learning enough to know how to handle one properly. Even if you do nothing more than pick one up to keep it out of the hands of scum, you need to make sure that you won’t hurt someone else with a firearm accidentally. Furthermore, if down the line someone in your group or family should happen to pickup an interest in using a weapon, you can educate them in safe use. Regardless of your opinions on firearms, you should at least know enough to avoid those who refuse to use them safely. An accident waiting to happen could easily end up being worse than having an actively hostile person among you.