Here are just 20 safety measures all gun-owners need to know to avoid both negligent and accidental tragedies. (Trigger warning: many of the videos used as examples in this post depict unsafe gun handling practices and may not be suitable for work. Click at your own risk.)
1. Keep your finger off the trigger.
Keep your finger straight, off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you’ve made the conscience decision to shoot. Most modern firearms will not fire, even when dropped. Guns don’t fire by themselves. Exaggerate your finger away from the gun when reholstering.
2. If you’re running with a firearm and slip, exaggerate your finger.
And be careful of the muzzle.
3. When in doubt, use the external safety selector if there is one.
It’s a good idea to activate an external safety when not using your firearm, but especially when you’re moving. (Don’t activate the safety during reloads. Doing so would ingrain a bad range habit and take away valuable time in a lethal situation. That’s when being too safe could become unsafe.)
4. Never try to catch a gun that is falling.
Let it fall.
5. When crossing a fence line, put the gun on the ground.
Place the barrel horizontal with the barrier and away from you, cross the fence, and then grab the gun again. Another option is to hand the firearm to another person who has already gone through or over the fence.
6. Never point the muzzle of your firearm at anyone or anything you do not wish to kill or destroy.
7. Treat all guns as if they’re loaded.
Doing so will help ensure safety. Even if the action is open and you “know” the gun’s unloaded, still don’t put your finger on the trigger and don’t point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to kill or destroy. (Yes, I said that again, but repetition…)
8. Keep the action open unless you’re going to shoot the gun or carry it for protection.
Open the action when handing a gun to another person. (Close the action for long term storage to avoid wearing the spring down.)
9. Ensure you have a quality backstop when you shoot.
Know your backstop and beyond. Remember the possibility of over penetration and consider all options of where a stray round might go and whom it might hit.
10. Be absolutely sure of your target.
Have positive, absolute identification before shooting and be careful of what and who is surrounding your target. When in doubt, don’t shoot!
11. Maintain good weapon retention.
This includes not letting anyone near your firearm that doesn’t have equal or better training than you do.
12. Kids need to be carefully supervised around firearms.
At the proper age, they should be taught a healthy appreciation and respect for guns.
13. Be very careful about pulling the trigger during disassembly.
Some firearms, like Glocks, for instance, require pulling the trigger in order to disassemble and clean.
14. Pull the trigger only when pointing the gun in a safe direction.
A safe direction is anywhere that if a round were discharged, would not cause any human injury and only minimal property damage.
15. Before pulling the trigger for dry-fire practice or long term storage, be absolutely certain the gun is unloaded.
Physically and visually inspect the chamber and magazine tube, clip or mag well. Have someone else there to double check you, if possible. Open the action multiple times and verify more than once that the firearm is empty and that no live ammo can be accidentally loaded.
16. Safest place possible direction is usually down, but not always.
Sometimes, if you’re in an elevated position, aiming or pointing down may be covering (a.k.a. flagging) a “friendly”. In that case, keep your muzzle pointed elsewhere.
17. Don’t engage in horseplay and don’t mix drugs (even some prescription drugs) or alcohol with firearms.
All bad combinations.
18. Follow the manufacturers recommendations and guidelines.
This includes firearms maintenance, lubing, using the right caliber, and so forth.
19. Be careful which guns and what ammunition you choose to shoot.
Some guns (really new or really old) may need to be inspected by a certified professional prior to being shot, and it may be best to avoid using some ammunition, despite the price. Also, be careful when reloading (but that’s really another list).
20. Be in charge of your safety.
Have the confidence to speak up if something could go wrong.
21. Wear hearing and eye protection whenever you shoot.
For all gun-owners, common sense safety should go without saying, because it’s spoken about so often.
Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time professional in the art of self-defense and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training. Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.