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Basic Firearm Safety Tips

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Firearm Safety
The Four Basic Firearm Safety Rules
  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
Handle all firearms as if they are loaded. Never forget that a weapon has the potential to produce serious injury or death in a single instant of carelessness.  Even if you are picking up a firearm out of a case in a store, assume EVERY firearm you come across is ready to fire until you personally observe the chamber and see/feel that it is empty.  If you set an unloaded weapon down, assume it is loaded again when you next pick it up.  The only way to avoid negligent discharges is to make this second nature.  IMPORTANT- simply removing the magazine from a pistol does NOT unload it.  There may still be a round in the chamber that can kill or injure someone.  You must observe the chamber of the weapon to determine if it is unloaded.

Never allow the muzzle to point at anything you are not willing to see destroyed.

Do not point any weapon at anyone, whether it is unloaded or loaded.  There is never a reason to point a firearm at any person, unless they are a threat to your life and you intend to defend yourself. You cannot accidentally shoot someone or something if you never pointed a firearm in that direction in the first place.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
The natural instinct when picking up a firearm is to put your finger in the trigger guard. DON’T! This could cause an accidental discharge if the weapon is loaded. Even if you are at a shooting range with no one around, you should not put your finger on the trigger until your weapon is pointing at a safe target. Almost every accidental shooting could arguably have been avoided by following this one rule alone. This is very important.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Even if you hear a bump in the night, do not fire at anything unless you know what it is, and what might happen if your bullet misses or goes through your target. Also, be aware that bullets may ricochet off of a hard target and go in unexpected directions; sometimes back at you. Ensure what you are shooting at can handle being shot, and that you are not going to injure anyone unless they are an actual threat. Do not use telescopic sights as a substitute for binoculars when identifying persons, animals or objects.

Rules of Accepting a Firearm
When accepting a firearm handed to you by another person:

·  Check that the action is opened before touching the firearm. If it isn’t, ask the person who is handing you the firearm to open it for you.
·  Visually check the chamber to ensure it is empty of ammunition and the magazine is empty or has been removed before touching the firearm.
· Grasp the firearm with both hands, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
· Say thank you to alert the passer to release the firearm.
· Once the firearm is in your control PROVE that it is unloaded and safe to handle.

Firearm Safety Rules for Young Children - Their Four Rules

Children who are generally considered too young to be allowed to handle firearms at all have a different set of rules which can be taught to them:

· Stop.
· Don’t touch.
· Leave the area.
· Tell an adult.

These rules for children are promulgated by the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Program. The point of these rules are not to instill that firearms are bad, only that they are dangerous, and that they should not be handled by anyone not able to understand and practice the Four Rules stated above. Remember children that have toy firearms need to know that they are only allowed to play with their own toy firearm unless they have the permission of an adult.

A Word about Semi-automatics
Most semi-automatic firearms can still be loaded and will fire EVEN AFTER THE MAGAZINE HAS BEEN REMOVED.  Although there are a minority of semi-auto pistols that have "magazine disconnect safeties", the vast majority of semi-autos may have a round in the chamber which can be fired by pulling the trigger after the magazine has been removed.  On semi-autos, you must REMOVE THE MAGAZINE FIRST, and then CHECK & CLEAR THE CHAMBER to confirm that the firearm is unloaded.

Safety and Older Firearms
There are additional safety concerns in dealing with older firearms.
·  It is important to remember that a lot can happen to a weapon over decades of use and abuse, and its always a good idea to have a competent professional gunsmith check out an older firearm for safe functioning before even thinking about shooting it.

·  Always be certain that you are using the correct ammunition for a firearm, and that the firearm hasn’t been converted to another caliber without being properly marked (uncommon, but it does happen). Never shoot modern high-pressure smokeless powder ammunition in a firearm that was originally designed and manufactured for lower pressure black powder cartridges.
·  On older revolvers, the firearm should never be carried with a live cartridge under the hammer. They can fire accidentally if dropped or struck on the hammer spur with the firing pin over the primer of a live cartridge.

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