4 Universal Firearms Safety Rules and Their Importance

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Competitive shooters are constantly drilling themselves on safety. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)

When it comes to firearms safety there are four universal safety rules crucial to follow. These rules ensure no one is injured — or worse — due to a negligent discharge. If you’re new to firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation recommends committing the following rules to memory:

1. Always point a firearm in a safe direction.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

3. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Keep it unloaded until you’re ready to use it.

4. Know your target and what’s around it, including beyond it.

Hang around gun people enough and you’ll hear different variations of these basic rules but, rest assured, they all mean the same thing. For example, a classic twist on rule one is “Never point your firearm at something you’re not willing to destroy.” It’s a bit more poignant for those who need help painting a mental picture.

The 10 C0mmandments of Gun Safety

In addition to the above four universal safety rules, the NSSF offers up six additional rules to follow making up what they call the 10 Commandments of Gun Safety:

5. Use correct ammunition.

6. If the gun fails to fire, keep it pointed in a safe direction. Unload it, then inspect it.

7. Always wear eye and ear protection on the range.

8. Before shooting, ensure the barrel is clear of obstructions. Never look down the muzzle end of a firearm.

9. Don’t alter or modify your firearm and have it serviced frequently.

10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of your firearm.

Remington R1 Hunter

A gun is just a tool and it doesn’t shoot itself. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)

The Importance of Safety

Guns.com caught up with Kevin Michalowski, Executive Editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, to learn why safety rules are so important.

“When you’re handling a gun, they allow you to make sure that you think of these things every time you pick up the gun. It allows you to make sure that you’re doing all the things correctly to ensure that you are safe with that firearm and the firearm is safe in your hands.”

A report from the National Safety Council indicated that unintentional firearm fatalities hit a record low in 2018. Gun industry experts credit safety education, like adherence to the safety rules, as well as safety programs to reducing the number of accidental firearm-related fatalities.

“Guns don’t cause problems. Stupid people cause problems,” Michalowski explained. “They forget, they get too comfortable, they get complacent. We can’t blame that on the firearm. We have to blame that on the person who picked it up and pointed it someplace unsafe and then put his or her finger on the trigger.”

Ultimately it is your responsibility to make sure you are practicing safe handling and treating firearms with the respect they deserve.


Those who train a lot understand the onus of safety is on the individual, not the gun. (Photo: Jacki Billings/Guns.com)


Understanding these universal firearms safety rules and committing them to memory is the best way to keep you and your family safe; but, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Classes, training, and practicing at the range should also be on your regular to-do list throughout a lifetime of firearms ownership.

Committing the four universal safety rules to memory will ensure that you have a lifetime of enjoyment with your firearms. Owning a firearm carries the extra responsibility of being safe. When safety is a priority, everyone wins.

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