Firearms are excellent tools and can be downright fun when used safely. However, these tools can also be very dangerous and even fatal. That is why it is very important to not become complacent and to always obey the rules of firearm safety. Failure to abide by these rules can have serious, or even deadly, consequences.

Rule 1: Always treat a firearm as if it were loaded

This is often the first firearm safety rule to be broken. An unfortunate amount of people have shot themselves or others because they believed the firearm to be empty when it wasn’t. If a firearm is simply treated like it was loaded, negligent discharges can be avoided.

Rule 2: Never point a firearm at something you are not willing to destroy

Mechanical failure happens. Humans make mistakes. The consequences of a negligent discharge can be significant. Therefore it is important to only point the muzzle at items that if they were destroyed, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Safe handling of a firearm is always about knowing where the muzzle is pointed.

Rule 3: Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it

When actually firing your firearm, be it at the shooting range, out hunting, or even in a self defense situation, it is important to know what is beyond your target should you miss. Even 9mm rounds can travel over 1,000 yards – so be sure that your shots don’t pass beyond your target and hit something or someone you don’t want to shoot. Also be wary of ricochets, be it off the ground and over your backstop or off of your target and back at you.

Rule 4: Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot

Though the movies regularly show main characters with their finger clutching the trigger, that is a bad idea as it is an excellent way to pull the trigger when you didn’t intend to. Carelessly wrapping your finger around the trigger is how you can lob a shot over the backstop or even send a bullet through your own leg. Only put your finger on the trigger when your firearm is pointed at the target you intend to shoot – that is called having trigger discipline.

Remember – guns are as dangerous as they are fun. Firearms need to be treated with respect in order to be used safely.