June is National Safety Month and while the National Safety Council provides many resources on topics to keep you and your family safe, I wanted to talk a little bit about gun safety. I have always wanted SMT to be a resource for those who might be new to shooting and who can also share and learn from my experiences. I have talked about my apprehension and anxiety when it came to shooting for the first few times and a lot of that had to with not being comfortable handling a firearm. When I first went shooting with the husband and we started renting guns, I vaguely remember signs posted about the gun safety rules. The most I remember was that the range officers kept urging us to always point your gun down range. It really wasn't until the husband was serious about getting his own firearm and then we took a class that it really was emphasized. Now that I am firearm owner I realize how important these safety rules are and must be part of the fundamentals that EVERYONE should know - gun owner, shooter, or not. It's just best practice and that knowledge doesn't hurt.
The decision to own a firearm is personal and comes with the ongoing commitment to safety and responsibility. Being a responsible gun owner means you must always be handling your firearm safely at all times. It's easy to say that you know the rules but it's also important to be reminded and to continually practice gun safety.
While most of you may know these rules I want to educate the newcomers, the apprehensive, the curious, and those that need a good reminder about the rules for firearm safety. The following are the four universal rules when it comes to firearm safety and should be adhered to anytime you are handling a firearm.
RULE ONE: Treat all firearms as if they were loaded. Just because the firearm might be cleared/unloaded (meaning there is no ammunition in the gun) doesn't mean you can treat it like a toy. By living the mindset that all guns are loaded means that the rest of the firearm safety rules will naturally fall into place and that the potential of accidents are minimized. The absence of ammo shouldn't give you permission to engage in unsafe practices with your gun.
RULE TWO: Never point the firearm at anything you are NOT willing to destroy. Remember you are handling a deadly weapon and in any instance whether you are cleaning it, practicing your at-home dry fire, or showing it to a friend always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. You never want to point the gun at something your aren't willing to destroy and/or potentially kill.
RULE THREE: Always keep your finger OFF the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot. Despite what the movies might show, the trigger is not a place to rest your finger. Your finger should be placed above the trigger alongside the barrel until you have your target in your sights and the have made the decision that you are going to shoot your firearm. Your target is where you are pointing your weapon and what you plan to shoot when the trigger is finally pulled.
RULE FOUR: Know your target and what is beyond it. You must always be sure of your target and the surrounding area. What is above, below, to the left, to the right, and what is behind it. You need to be conscious of where you bullet will land.
Even though these rules are being discussed during National Safety Month they are year round rules that should be applied every single time a firearm is being handled.
Gun Safety & Kids
While it's important as an adult to know the four gun safety rules it's also extremely important for parents to talk to their kids about gun safety. There are a few great programs available to help parents educate their children on firearm safety. These programs aren't about promoting firearms but instead are available to help kids understand what to do if they find a gun and to help parents start the conversation with their children.
The National Shootings Sports Foundation created Project Child Safe to promote firearm safety and education. They have a ton of resources and kits you can download for parents who are also gun owners to help ensure responsible gun ownership as a parent. They also put together an educational video for parents to help you start the conversation with your children regarding firearms safety.
The National Rifle Association created The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program back in 1988 as a gun accident prevention method to teach kids four easy & simple rules to follow if they ever come across a gun. In 2015, they upgraded the program to include guides for parents, a revamped cartoon style video featuring Eddie Eagle and his Wing Team, a kids specific website, and lots more information.
Whether you are a parent that doesn't own a firearm or doesn't have the desire to own one doesn't mean that other parents don't. Educating your child on what to do if they come across a gun should be just as important as teaching them what do in case of a fire or an emergency. Providing kids with the right information can help prevent accidents. Children will be naturally curious about firearms and may be tempted to "play" with them as they do in their video games or toys so starting the conversation early and often will give them the knowledge they need so they know what to do. While it is a bit intrusive and might be uncomfortable, don't be afraid to ask the parents of your child's play date if they own any firearms are they stored securely.
I don't have any children but I am curious to know for readers that do, at what age did you start talking to your kids about gun safety?
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on my opinions and for informational use only. I am not an expert in this field and any items/services/products/advice mentioned in these posts should be used at your own discretion, in accordance with your local & state laws, and you should follow applicable manufacturer’s instructions. You can read more about my privacy & disclosure policies here.