The Four Basic Rules of Firearms Safety

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.
  4. Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.

These are the four universal gun rules. They were compiled many years ago and taken up by all the gun organizations that I know about. The versions may be a bit different but the intent is the same. Let’s break these down one by one:

All guns are always loaded.

There have been so many instances that someone gets shot and the shooter invariably says, "but the gun wasn't loaded”, or “I didn’t think it was loaded”.

If only he had known rule number one. All would be well and he would not have to relive that terrible moment in his mind time after time.

It is true that all guns are not actually loaded all the time. However if we apply rule number one and always check to verify the condition of the firearm as if it were loaded, these preventable accidents would not occur.

Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

We all know the devastating effects a gun can have. So, unless you are willing to destroy something or in cases of emergencies you need to stop an immediate threat, never point your muzzle because whatever it points at is in jeopardy.

Index. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.

To index means to take your pointer finger or index finger and put it to the side of your firearm alongside the frame. It is close by the trigger at the ready but not engaged until needed. This keeps it out of harm’s way with no unintentional discharges if you trip or bump or have a reflexive action. This is safe.

Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.

If you are going to shoot, understand that a projectile may go through an object, or perhaps you could miss entirely. Whatever the case, the object behind will be struck. Let’s say a burglar was armed and making his way down the hall in your direction, You, of course would have every right to defend yourself and your family in such a situation. This is exactly why you made the purchase in the first place.

If you miss or if the bullet hits the intruder and passes through, it will keep its course until it runs out of energy. A wall of sheetrock is not much protection. Hopefully there is no one in the next room. Your bullet may travel even further, entering a window in a neighbor’s yard.

So, knowing what is behind or beyond your target is the key. Being safe in everything that we do in our actions and thoughts keeps everyone around us safe.