October 31, 2013 --
As a child one was told over and over not to play with matches, don’t play with knives, and don’t play with stray animals.
So by the time one becomes a teenager it is almost instinctive to follow these basic rules. But as a child a lot of people didn’t learn basic firearms safety, now those same people own firearms.
Owning a car does not make one a professional race-car driver any more than owning a firearm makes one a good and safe shooter.
Firearm handlers should treat firearms with respect for their destructive capabilities and never play with them.
The following four rules should be exercised, not only by a first time firearms owner, but should be a part of every owner’s handling practices.
First: Assume every gun is loaded. Whenever you pick up a firearm immediately engage the safety device if possible.
If the firearm has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition.
If one does not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the firearm alone and get help from someone who does; always ask the owner first.
Second: Control the muzzle; analyze your surroundings and point the gun in a safe direction.
If the firearm goes off it will destroy whatever the muzzle is pointed at. Never point a firearm at oneself or another person.
Third: Trigger finger, keep one’s finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
The trigger guard helps to prevent unintended discharges of the firearm.
When holding a firearm, rest one’s finger on the trigger guard or alongside the firearm.
If one is not ready to fire, do not touch the trig-ger.
Fourth: Target, be sure of the target and what lies beyond. Be absolutely sure to identify the target without any doubt.
Equally important, be aware of the area beyond the target. This means observing the prospective area of fire before a shot is taken.
Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first, shoot second.
To help you remember these four basic rules, think of ACTT:
Assume it is loaded
Control the muzzle
Target and beyond
Although these are the basic rules, one of the most important safety precautions that one must consider when owning a firearm is storage.
Store firearms so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store firearms.
A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration.
Firearm storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the firearm(s) are available.
However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into firearm(s) can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe firearm handling and the observance of all firearm safety rules.
The National Rifle Association recommends that firearm owners should always keep their firearms unloaded until they are ready to use.
This is particularly important when storing firearms at home.
Keeping firearms unloaded at all times will help prevent accidents and injuries, even if it accidentally fall into the wrong hands.
It’s also good practice to store ammunition separately from firearms.
For more information, call 229-639-5249 or visit www.nssf.org/safety/basics.