- Always treat any firearm as if it were loaded. There’s a saying my dad taught me, “No one was ever accidentally killed by a loaded firearm.” That’s right, it’s the “unloaded” firearm that causes accidents. When handling any firearm, even if someone tells you, “No need to check, it’s unloaded,” check it anyhow and say, “No matter, I always check.” The way to check is simple. For a semi-automatic handgun, first remove the magazine, then rack the slide and lock it in place. Now you’ll be able to visually confirm that the gun is empty. For revolvers, simply open the cylinder and inspect each cylinder.
- Always keep a firearm pointed in a safe direction. Another way of saying this is to never point a firearm at something you are not willing to destroy. When holding a firearm, keep asking yourself “Am I pointing it in a safe direction? If it were to unintentionally discharge, would anyone be hurt?” Some experts say that this should be the very first safety rule because, even if you break all remaining safety rules, no one would ever be injured or killed.
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire. This practice must be formed into a habit and become part of your muscle memory. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and on the frame of your pistol!
- When you shoot, always know what is behind your target. Shooting at an indoor range makes it easy to obey this rule because indoor ranges are carefully designed to prevent someone from getting behind your target. However, before you discharge a firearm in an outdoor range or in a non-range environment, you must always know what is behind your target; otherwise you must not fire. Remember, you own and are responsible for every bullet that leaves your firearm!
The 4 Universal Safety Rules are not the only habits you need to develop and practice in firearms safety. In our USCCA courses, you will learn even more about safe handling and safe storage of firearms. As repetition is the mother of retention, you will leave my classes with the knowledge of how to handle firearms safely.