The necessity to be safe while “gun training” cannot be overemphasized …
There are rules. The rules must be followed or people could get hurt. Really, that’s how it is with all aspects of life from the job you have, to raising your children, to driving down the road.
Take, for example, the simple stop sign. If you choose to not follow the rule, or law, while driving and blow through the stop sign, you may have an accident. Of course, accidents aren’t guaranteed to happen, but the rules are put in place to prevent a collision from happening.
Another example, can be found when working on cars. I was a mechanic for a good part of my life. I knew that there was a rule in place that stated: If a car is up in the air, there must be jack stands underneath it to prevent it from falling.
You don’t understand its importance until a jack twists under the weight of a car. Once that happens, you realize why those rules are there. Thankfully, I wasn’t under the car when it came crashing down on the driveway below.
There are rules, or people get hurt. The wonderful world of self-defense is no different. And, in fact, the four rules of firearm safety may even be more important than all the others.
Guns can be used in self-defense, to kill animals for food, for target practice, and to fight wars. Guns can be used to kill.
You’ve likely heard the saying that the firearm is the great equalizer of force. A tiny, old lady can successfully defend herself against a much bigger, younger opponent if equipped to do so.
Before we move on to the main point, let’s look at this in a bit more depth …
The gun by itself does not kill because it, alone, isn’t capable of taking any action. The person operating it is the sole deciding factor of whether or not these weapons will fire a round, whether done purposefully or “accidentally.”
Having said all of that, a firearm is nothing more than a tool, much in the same way a hammer or screwdriver is. In the wrong hands, a gun can be used to harm decent, hard-working people. Yet, so can a hammer, screwdriver, knife, car, truck or anything else you can think of.
On the flip side of the coin, in the right hands, a gun can be used in self-defense to save life much in the same way a hammer or screwdriver can.
Any tool can be used as a weapon to ensure your survival when your life is placed on the line. The gun is nothing more than a tool that makes your job of living and making it home to your family, easier.
Because guns are tools, they are not inherently evil. Using a firearm to hunt is easier than using a speer. Just as it is easier to defend yourself with one, as opposed to a stick.
Because they are an object, they can be used properly, or improperly. They can be used for good, or for evil.
They can also be mismanaged by well-intentioned people. This is one of the reasons why there are rules, and why I’d like you to share this article with everyone you know.
What are the 4 basic rules for firearms safety?
It’s unfair to have an article about the basic rules of firearms safety without mentioning the man who championed them and made them what they are today.
Colonel Jeff Cooper played a huge role in developing much of the firearms training materials, like the 4 basic rules of firearms safety and the varying conditions of carried weapons (which will likely be covered in another article.)
One of the things drilled into me at basic training, and every time I went to the range after that in the Marines, were Jeff Cooper’s rules. I want to take a moment to discuss them with you now, and it is my sincere hope that you share this with all of your friends either as a refresher course, or to teach them for the first time.
It’s that important.
Treat every gun like it is loaded:
Here’s the deal. If everyone always treated the gun they had in their hands like it had a live cartridge in the chamber, never assuming that it was unloaded, negligent discharges would drop dramatically.
Taking it a step further than that, whenever you do anything with your gun, you should always clear it to make sure it is unloaded. Several deaths happen each year because a firearm was negligently discharged when someone began to clean it, assuming it wasn’t loaded.
Taking it yet another step further, I always clear a gun before I hand it to someone else because I’m never sure how much gun training the other person has. Will they treat the weapon like it’s loaded?
A friend’s kid pointed a loaded .22 mag revolver at me once when he handed it to me and I about lost my mind.
I pulled the gun from his hands, emptied the cylinder, and gave him a lesson right there on the spot. The person you’re handing the gun to will likely be grateful that you are ensuring their safety by clearing it for them first.
In fact, whenever I hand someone a firearm, I do so with the action open, so they can have piece of mind that nothing is in there.
Never point your gun at something you’re not willing to kill/destroy:
This is simple, but I see people violating it all the time. If I had a dollar for every time I’d been to a gun store and have been muzzled (someone pointed a gun at me, sighting it in), I’d have a lot of money.
Think about it like this. Guns make killing animals and self-defense easier, right? So, why would you ever want to point something designed to shoot metal projectiles at 1,000 feet per second at something you didn’t, in fact, want to shoot?
Let that sink in for just a moment, and then remember it next time you go “try on” a gun at your local shop …
Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire:
Until your sights are on your intended target, and you want to shoot, your trigger finger (and all other fingers, for that matter) should be off the trigger.
This should be common sense, but it isn’t. Going a step further than the obviousness of this rule, keep EVERYTHING away from your trigger. There have been numerous “accidents” where clothing snagged a trigger, or where a damaged holster tugged on it just enough to send a round through the pipe.
Therefore, let me plug something that I do on a regular basis: check your gear for defects. If you begin to notice that your holster has a hole in it, or the leather is wearing a lot more than you’d like, get a new one.
Your life, or that of someone else, is a lot more important than the $50 you’d spend on a new holster.
Know your target and what’s around it:
I’ve heard it worded like this once, and it really hits the point home — once that bullet leaves the barrel, you own it. This means that if you let a stray shot out and it hits someone else, that person could get injured and hold you responsible.
Of course, that’s only one aspect. You could also kill someone you didn’t intend to hurt, and that will stay with you the rest of your life.
Taking this a step further, bullets can and often do travel through things like walls, and even other people. You need to know what your target’s surroundings are before you pull the trigger.
Here is an example of a shooting competition where the shooter thought the range was clear, and wasn’t:
Guns are tools designed to make a job easier. Whether it is self-defense, hunting, target practice, or anything else you use your gun for, following the basic firearms safety rules will ensure everyone remains safe.
Did I leave anything out? Do you have anything to add? If so, make sure you leave a comment below, to share with everyone. Have you caught up on our SHOT Show coverage yet? If not, you can find all of our videos on the YouTube channel.