It's becoming a regular bit of news of late, accidental shootings and misfires that are ending lives and causing irreparable damage to families across our great nation. I for one, am a big supporter of the Second Amendment, and believe it's everyone's God-given right to protect their own, but I will say this. It needs to be done safely.
In your home, you're responsible for how your guns are kept, how they are handled, and it's your responsibility to teach your kids what it means to safely handle a firearm. And once you start bringing them out, whether it's for a session at the shooting range or to head out on a hunt, it's critical you're being safe with your guns. Don't make one of these mistakes with your firearm, it could just have a fatal consequence.
Never point your gun at anyone
Or perhaps I should refine this slightly, and say that you should never point your gun at anyone, unless you are 100% willing to destroy and kill them. Mistakes happen, like misfires, or mishandling of a firearm, and they can go off. The trouble comes when they accidentally go off, and you had it pointed at your foot, or a friend. When your gun is in your hands, it should only ever be pointed in one of three safe directions.
- At the ground by your feet.
- At the sky above your head.
- At whatever target you want to shoot.
These are all safe directions, because even if your gun were to go off, it's highly unlikely that it will hit and injure anyone. Of course, you do have to think about what may be beyond the walls of your home, or on either side of your floors or ceiling (especially if you live in an apartment complex or a two-story home), as bullets will penetrate the walls or floors of a house. And you don't want an unexpected casualty.
Look past the target at what's beyond
Especially when you're hunting, it can be easy to become so focused on your target that you fail to scan the surrounding area. Once you've pulled the trigger and your gun has fired, the shot is gone. You can't call it back and the last thing you want is to look up and think "oh no." Before shooting, you need to know what's beyond your target, and make sure the bullet has no chance of hitting anything else.
To give you an idea why this is a problem…
- A bullet from a 9mm handgun can travel up to 2,400 yards
- A bullet from a .22 rifle can travel up to 2,000 yards
- A bullet from a 30-06 rifle can travel up to 5,720 yards
- A bullet from a 44 Magnum can travel up to 2,500 yards
Now imagine you miss your target. Whatever is behind it, will be on the receiving end of the bullet you've just shot. In fact, you may not even need to miss. If you do a clean "pass through" shot, the bullet is going to keep travelling, right into whatever is behind. You need to make sure there is nothing behind that can be hit, before you pull the trigger. Because a bullet can keep travelling, and destroy not only the target, but what's behind.
Never rest your finger on the trigger
Because of how most firearms have been designed, the most comfortable place for your finger to rest is on the trigger. It's natural, but it's not right. Now most people will justify it saying that the safety is on anyway so it doesn’t matter, but let me tell you this. The safety is a mechanical switch, and they have been known to fail.
Resting your finger on the trigger incredibly dangerous. If you slip and press the trigger without the safety, your gun will go off. If the safety happens to fail, the gun will go off. You should only ever have your finger on the trigger when you've consciously decided to shoot your gun, you've flicked the safety off and you're bringing it up to take your shot. Otherwise your trigger finger should be extended straight, resting along the trigger guard.
Store unused guns unloaded, in a locked gun safe
If you're not using a gun, you need to unload it. Of course, this becomes a challenge if you're like me and you carry pretty much at all times, so I'll refine this slightly. If you're not carrying it, the gun needs to be unloaded. If it's a backup defensive weapon, like the handgun in your glove box, or the pistol under your coffee table, you need to be…
- Comfortable the safety is on and functional
- Certain there is no round in the chamber
- Confident no children or other people can access it
Many people will tell you that a loaded gun has no place in a vehicle, and while I agree to an extent, (you should never drive around with a loaded shotgun in your trunk, the bumps on the road can be enough to chamber a round and set it off), if you've got firearms on your person as a means of self-defense, you will lose precious seconds loading these if the situation ever calls for you to draw and fire. It's not practical to store these unloaded, but it is your responsibility to ensure your firearms are kept out of reach of children or any other unauthorized users.
When you're a gun owner it's your job to ensure your firearms are safe at all times. That's what you agree to, and what you owe to your family when you bring deadly weapons into your home. So, make damn sure you're being safe with your guns, and don't make any of these mistakes. They could have terrible consequences.