ASK THE EXPERTS
GUN SAFETY RULES
Anyone who has been around guns for a while knows the top 3 rulesfor firearms safety. What are the others, and what do all of them mean?
ALWAYS KEEP THE GUN POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION
Remember, anything the front sight passes by can be destroyed so we keep it pointed
away from anything we do not intend to shoot, kill, or destroy.
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL READY TO SHOOT
Better yet, until your sights are on the target. You may be mentally ready to shoot but not
yet have your sights on the target (have you seen holes in the ceiling of the indoor
range?). Accidental discharges are caused by carelessness (knowing better but do it
anyways), and ignorance (didn't know it would happen). I've seen holes in dry fire
areas, holes in ceilings at the range, and witnessed a 44 mag go through 4 walls in A
house. Recently a State Trooper shot himself in the leg following a high speed and
foot pursuit. I don't know the details, but a common relationship is keeping the finger on
the trigger while putting the gun in the holster.
ALWAYS KEEP THE GUN UNLOADED UNTIL READY TO USE.
This means if you are going hunting, don't load until you are ready to hunt. If you are
using the firearm for self defense, load it before concealing it. If you are storing it, keep
it unloaded and the ammunition stored separate. I've seen holes in truck doors from
the inside out, I've seen a police cruiser with a huge hole in the roof from the inside-out,
and I've been on the wrong end of a .45 with the shooter thinking it was unloaded, it
wasn't. He shot it between my feet ruining a new carpet.
KNOW YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEYOND IT, MAKE SURE THE DOWNRANGE AREA
This means you must know what your target is, positively identify it, and make sure
that the background is clear in the event you miss or the bullet travels through the
target. This keeps you from shooting your friend in the face. We all recently learned
that Vice President Dick Cheney shot his friend while hunting. This was a possible
example of not checking your background. This is one reason we keep "both"eyes
open and don't drink a beer before you go shooting. Don't get tunnel vision. I was
involved in a shooting where a city officer took sights on a burglar in a dark area, only
to shoot a deputy who came around the corner in pursuit of the burglar. That was a
shotgun blast 00 Buck.
BE SURE THE GUN IS SAFE TO OPERATE.
This means that the firearm should be fully functional. If in doubt, have a gunsmith
check it out. He should fire it for you as part of that check. I bought a revolver from
a fellow Captain who was retiring. He had carried this fancy customized gun with
ivory 1 piece grips for 15 of his 20 years. When he qualified he would use another
revolver saying he didn't want to wear the customized one out. I sold the revolver to
a new police cadet. A week later he returned it saying it wouldn't fire. Further research
found out the trigger spring tension was only 2 lbs, not enough to dent the primer on a
357 magnum. The Captain had carried this sharp looking thing on duty ... and it
wouldn't fire !!!! Now I always test fire a used gun looking for defects.
KNOW HOW TO USE THE GUN.
This means you have completed a firearms training course for that class of firearm
Shotgun, Muzzleloader Rifle, Rifle, Handgun, etc. Most people take the NRA Training.
These classes range from 10 hours to 14 hours. They are well worth the investment.
Also available is the 3-5 hour First Steps which covers that firearms only.
ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGES are caused by ignorance and carelessness. Ignorance is
"not knowing any better" and this is corrected by education. A former working partner
pulled a .45 Colt Combat Commander semi-auto out of a desk drawer to show me the
new pistol. He racked the slide ejecting a round, released it forward, and dropped the
magazine. He proceeded to walk towards me moving the pistol as if he was clearing
a building. I told him there was still a round of ammo in the chamber but he wouldn't
listen. He got mad and just to prove me wrong he pointed it at the floor between my
feet and pulled the trigger. After he got back from 1 week suspension and paid for the
new carpet in the booking room, he sought guidence on the proper clearing of a pistol.
USE ONLY THE CORRECT AMMUNITION FOR YOUR GUN.
This means just that. A bullet is measured two ways, diameter and cartridge length.
The 9mm, 380, 38, 357, are all within thousands of inch the same in diameter, but their
cartridge length (casing) is very different. Same for shotgun and rifle ammunition.
The correct ammunition should be confirmed with 4 sources: the firearm stamp, the
ammo box printing, the headstamp on the base of the casing, and the manufacture's
literature. Preparing for a class at the range, I heard someone shooting inside the
range. He was the only one there and I saw him clear a .380 semi-automatic pistol.
After he left I set up the range for my class. He left his brass which I swept up, noticing
a handful of casings which were expanded at the top and narrow at the bottom. I picked
them up .... they were .32 ACP caliber. He had fired them in his .380 causing the brass
to expand to fit the firing chamber of his .380. This is a dangerous thing, don't do it.
WEAR EYE AND EAR PROTECTION AS APPROPRIATE.
The reason for the eye protection is to protect them if you have any blow back from the
ammo, or in the event you have a malfunction of the firearm and it blows up in your face.
Some glasses will actually stop a bullet !! The reason for the hearing protection is to
preserve your hearing. Gunshots ring in at 135 decibles or more, causing ear damage.
There are simple plugs, regular ear muffs, or electronic noise cancelling ear muffs.
Following a high speed pursuit and accident with felony suspects, I fired my.357
Magnum from inside the cruiser through the windshield. The noise was very loud but
do to the intensity of the situation I didn't notice it other than my ears ringing. On the
range shooting without ear protection was never done. A .22 caliber puts out a 143
decible noise (over 100 damages the ears). I'm sure most guns are very damaging.
NEVER USE ALCOHOL OR DRUGS BEFORE OR WHILE SHOOTING.
This means no alergy meds, no cold meds, no drinking a beer before you go hunting,
and if you partied hard the night before, the residule effects hang around for long time.
The body burns alcohol at .015 % per hour regardless of exercise or sleep.
Don't drink or take any medications or drugs before going shooting.
GUNS SETTING IN RACKS SHOULD NOT BE ACCESSIBLE TO UNAUTHORIZED
This means guns unattended in any place should not be accessible to unauthorized
people. This is a State Law in most states. YOU are responsible for any damage,
injury, or death of a improperly stored firearm. Lock them up went not being used.
TREAT EVERY GUN AS A LOADED GUN.
This means just that. Until you put your finger in the chamber, see the empty magazine
or cylinder, and ensure the ammo is aside, it assumed to be loaded. Mr. Ron Avery,
noted National Champion Handgunner, says it this way, "Nothing to Feed it, Nothing in
it's tummy, and nothing in it's mouth." Thanks Mr. Avery, it's a great way to remember it.
DRY FIRING: USE AN UNLOADED FIREARM IN A SAFE ENVIROMENT (a HGR Firearms Rule).
This means no ammo in the room. The backstop must be solid to stop a discharge.
The area must be clear of hazards or people, animals, etc. Repeat to your self several
times "this is dry fire". Focus on your goal. When complete, repeat several times "train
ing is complete". Return to Ammo room and load firearm if necessary. Repeat several
times "Firearm is loaded, it is hot and ready to fire". DO NOT RETURN TO DRILL
AREA. A .38/9mm will penetrate 4 plaster walls. Can you afford a mistake like that?
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