Firearm Safety

IMAGE "I didn't know it was loaded!" are tragic words often uttered after a gun accident. Accidents with firearms are usually avoidable. By learning and applying the basic safety rules for proper firearm handling and storage, you can avoid the pain, agony, and potential loss that result from a gun accident. Becoming more responsible with firearms begins with education. No one should have a rifle or pistol in the house unless they have been trained in how to use it—and how not to use it.

The Basics of Firearm Safety

Firearms education should include a number of basics: Classes are not necessarily just for the person who will be firing the weapon. It is a good idea for anyone who may come in contact with the gun to take a safety class. Children should be taught the basics, especially if they are going to be around the weapon. They need to learn that guns are not toys, and that the damage they can cause is permanent. Many states and municipalities certify gun instructors. Your local police department may have a list. Be aware that states with right-to-carry laws require a minimum number of hours of education before issuing a right-to-carry permit. Keep your rifle or pistol where no one can get to it who is not supposed to get to it. That means locking it up. There are a number of ways to do that. Options include:
  • A gun safe.
  • Keeping it in a locked attic or basement. It is also possible to keep it in a drawer or cabinet that can be locked.
  • A trigger lock, which resembles the locks used on the dial on rotary telephones. If the weapon has a trigger lock, it cannot be fired without first unlocking it.
  • Locked trunk. If you have to transport the weapon, keep it in a locked trunk, and never leave it unattended or unlocked in your car.
Think long and hard about keeping a loaded weapon around the house. People are rarely hurt or killed by an unloaded firearm. If there is no ammunition in the gun's chamber, clip, or magazine, the most that could happen by improperly handling a firearm is inadvertently dropping it on your foot.If you must must keep a loaded gun in the house, make sure children cannot get to the loaded weapon to play with it or fire it accidentally. If you are planning the purchase of a new firearm, consider buying one with a built-in indicator that the firing chamber is loaded. This can alert you to the risk that a supposedly unloaded gun may discharge unexpectedly. Practice as much care with your ammunition as you do with rifle or pistol. Keep bullets and magazines secured. This means locking them away in a location away from where guns are kept.

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