These rules should be introduced before you ever pick up a firearm, and should be used not only on the range, but anytime you handle a firearm. Sometimes people need to be reminded, especially when it comes to firearm safety and proper handling. I never realized how often most people forget about the 4 Rules of Gun Safety especially when they’re not at the range until I started working at a local gun affiliated business. I’ve lost count of how many times people swept me with their firearm, only to dismiss my reaction by saying, “Oh, it’s unloaded.”. No, that doesn’t make it better or excuse the fact that you didn’t follow the rules. So, here’s a small reminder continue these practices not only at the range but anytime you handle a firearm.
Rule #1- Treat all guns as if they were always loaded
You see, even though you checked and cleared your firearm (and double or triple checked it), you have just walked into our shop with a loaded firearm. At least, that’s what the person behind the counter is thinking when you pull out that firearm and start pointing it at them. Even if you walk into a shop or up to the line at the range with the firearm in the locked and chamber open position, you need to treat that firearm as though it’s loaded. The person beside you, should treat that firearm as though it’s loaded. We treat the firearm as though it’s loaded even if everyone has been able to verify it has been cleared. There is no exception to this.
Rule #2- Never point the muzzle of the gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy
Yes, even though you may have just cleared the firearm with Rule #1, you still should not point the muzzle of that gun at anything or anyone unless you are willing to destroy what’s on the other end. Why? Because Rule #1 just told us that we should treat the firearm as though it’s always loaded. Keep that muzzle pointed down and away from any body parts. Keep this in mind when you are moving the firearm from one hand to another. Muzzle awareness, or always being mindful as to where your muzzle is pointed, has always been drilled in by firearm instructors I have worked with..
Rule #3- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot
Now, I’m going to take this one step further and tell you not only should you keep it off the trigger, but you should also keep it outside the trigger guard. This is also known as a “high index”. This is good practice for a couple of reasons. It keeps those around you safe because everyone can see that the trigger and the trigger guard area are completely unobstructed. It keeps you safe because it helps eliminate accidental discharge since your finger is completely away from the trigger. This should be practiced often so that you commit it to your muscle memory. This way, no matter what firearm you pick up, your finger automatically goes into this “high index” position.
Rule #4- Be sure of your target and what’s behind it
You wouldn’t think this rule applies in your local gun shop, but it does. Let me tell you why. When you forget to follow Rules #1 and #2, and you point that firearm at the shop employee, you’re also pointing it at what’s behind them. When you quickly move that gun to the side of them because you noticed their reaction, and are now pointing it at the wall, you are also pointing it at the person behind the wall. So, even though these people are not your target, you have just made them one.
If you happen to be the person that needs a gentle reminder about the rules, don’t get upset or defensive with that person next to you at the range or shop employee when they react to having a firearm pointed at them. Don’t try to defend the action by telling them the firearm is unloaded. These rules are in place to keep everyone safe. They serve as a reminder that you are in possession of a deadly weapon, and you should always treat it as such. These rules should help you build the foundation for good habits on and off the range. I cannot stress how important it is to commit these rules to memory, follow these rules each time you go to handle a firearm. If you happen to see someone mishandling a firearm, or not following the rules, this should be the one time you are not afraid to be impolite and say something. You deserve to feel safe, as much as those around you deserve to feel safe.
Everyone has there view points on firearms but the only thing that stays the same across the board are the 4 Golden rules. –
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