firearm safety

The 4 Primary Rules Of Firearm Safety


Handling any firearm requires being familiar with basic safety rules to prevent any unintentional harm from being inflicted on yourself or others. 

There are typically 3 categories of gun-safety rules: 

  1. Unintentional discharge prevention 
  1. Use of firearms in surviving and gunfights 
  1. Use of firearms in confrontations with a criminal 

The first category of rules that help prevent accidents are learned upon the first contact with firearms, usually as early as childhood. The rules in the second category pertain to situations where firing a weapon is legally justified and tend to receive less attention, while the rules in the third category apply to all citizens and are often discussed publicly. 

You become familiar with all these rules through practice and may choose to adopt them entirely or in your own way, depending on the context in which you use a gun. Nevertheless, all the rules regard targets, triggers, loading, pointing, etc. 

Let’s discuss the 4 most relevant firearm safety rules, starting with those regarding loading a gun. 

1. Assume every gun is loaded 

When handling a gun, make sure you check if the gun is loaded before using it. The gun is empty or not loaded if there are no shells or cartridges in it.  

Guns need to be unloaded when they are being cleaned, sold, repaired, practiced with dry fire, etc. but otherwise they might be loaded if they are kept in case there is a need for their use. 

Treating any gun as if it were loaded helps you prevent gun accidents and unintentional firearm deaths. Since gun-related injuries seem to have risen in America and are one of the leading causes of death, ensure this rule is on your mind at all times. 

This doesn’t mean you need to keep your gun unloaded when not using it. You should simply always check for shells and cartridges in it in order not to hurt someone by assuming the gun is empty. 

Keep your shooting supplies in check and in a safe place out of children’s reach. 

2. Watch where you point your gun 

This is one of the most important rules concerning gun use. You need to focus on two major ideas here: 

  1. Control muzzle direction at all times 
  1. Point your gun in the safest possible direction 

Controlling the muzzle requires your full commitment and focus. At first, you might find it challenging, but practice makes perfect. 

The safest direction is based on the idea of never pointing your gun at anything you do not wish to shoot or harm. It is a bit of a flawed concept, suggesting there is a direction that excludes hurting anyone or destroying anything.  

Even if you pointed your gun at the floor, a wall, or a ceiling — you would undoubtedly cause certain damage, but less in comparison to pointing a gun at living beings.  

One of the ways you can practice staying aware of where you are pointing your gun is by imagining a laser beam coming out of the gun barrel and envisioning what it cuts through. 

Of course, the safest way to handle your gun so that it isn’t pointed at something you might harm is to have it holstered or cased. 

3. Don’t touch the trigger before you’re ready to fire 

Putting your finger against the trigger before deciding to shoot can lead to unintentional discharges, injuries, and even death.  

You may feel your finger constantly gravitating towards being placed on the trigger (it’s only natural as a gun is built in that way). That is why maintaining a clear focus and strong awareness of your actions are necessary. 

Once again, continual practice paves the way to the successful implementation of this rule. 

4. Don’t miss your target 

This rule seems quite obvious, but the breaking of it caused by a lack of practice very often leads to firearms mishaps. Firstly, it is not enough just to know your target — you have to be aware of its environment as well. Secondly, if you think you’ve practiced enough, go practice some more. 

As with any rule, practice is crucial and is what differentiates experienced shooters from those prone to inflicting unintentional harm. 


Guns can make us feel safe, but only if we handle them by following the firearm safety rules. Otherwise, using a gun, or simply owning one and keeping it at home, can lead to unwanted consequences that are often irreversible and tragic.  

There are four main rules anyone who owns and uses a firearm should abide by to prevent any unintentional injuries or deaths from happening when handling a gun.  

Apart from the rules themselves, constant practice is required so that the rules are understood and implemented in their entirety. 

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