With the timeliness of self defense discussions and the way that firearms are an integral part of most prepping discussions, I have been a little more gun-centric with my posts and videos than I initially planned. I am perfectly fine with being heavy on self defense because it is one of the potential survival situations we will face in our lifetimes. I cannot, however, with good conscience continue the reviews and skill posts and videos without offering some basic safety rules. Along with these rules, we should also make sure we secure our guns when we aren’t in physical control of them. You can watch two videos about securing your firearms on my YouTube channel here and here.
Are There Really Safety Rules In A Gunfight?
The adage that has been handed down for years is that there are no rules in a gun fight. The sentiment is solid but the real truth is that there are rules. We should never quit trying to survive a violent encounter that we can’t escape, but we also cannot try to win “at any cost” in self defense scenarios because the cost might be an innocent person’s life. Safety rules surrounding firearms vary based on the location and variables you face. You may be at a range who has additional rules to make things safer for the shooters there. You may feel that you need to enforce stricter measures on yourself because of others in your household. Those are fine, but the four safety rules I am about to present will make sure that you do not cause an unintended injury with a firearm in your possession no matter the activity you are engaged in.
What Are The Four Firearms Safety Rules?
The following rules are universal and should apply to any type of shooting we do, be it hunting, competition, plinking, or self defense.
Rule 1: Treat Every Gun As If It’s Loaded
This rule lays the groundwork for other rules. By assuming that no gun is unloaded, we are setting ourselves up for safety by respecting the potential damage that can be done if we handle any firearm in a careless manner.
Rule 2: Never Let The Muzzle Cross Anything You Aren’t Willing To Destroy
The muzzle is the end of the gun’s barrel where the bullet or shot will exit. That means that anything the muzzle is pointed at is at risk of being destroyed by the gun if it fires. This is why everyone recommends performing any loading, unloading, or other necessary manipulations of any gun be performed while the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. The “safe direction” is relative to the situation. Pointing a firearm down would normally be considered a safe direction, but consider if there were people on a lower floor than you in your home or apartment. Would they be injured if you shot through the floor? Up is often considered a safe direction, but what if someone is upstairs above you? Also consider that everything that goes up must come down. There are many injuries and deaths each year from celebratory gunfire in the air during fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Picture a laser extending a line from your muzzle through whatever it crosses and use that as a guide to what direction would be the safest in any given situation.
Rule 3: Know Your Target and What Is Beyond It
Let’s continue to consider the “laser” idea I mentioned in the last rule. Bullets are acted on by many forces that we cannot control once they have left the barrel, however we must make sure we control everything up to that point. We must first be sure of our target. This applies to all shooting, however, in a personal defense situation is critical to identify the target. Many people are injured or killed every year by being mistaken for a home intruder only to be an unexpected family member coming in unannounced. No person would want to bear that guilt. Knowing what is beyond our target is of equal importance. Bullets can zip through a target, be it an animal, a human, or a paper target at the range. We are still fully responsible for that bullet even if it passes through the intended target and strikes something or someone beyond it. In a defensive scenario we may have to fire our weapon at an aggressor in a crowded area. Picture the laser again. Standing level with them and shooting at the center of the chest means that the bullet could pass through and enter another person’s chest directly behind them. To avoid this may require us to move to one side or to or squat down to have the angle of our shot go up through the aggressor and above the crowd or individuals behind them. This is where mental exercises and dry fire training can help sharpen our skills. You can read more about Dry Fire Training Here.
Rule 4: Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until You Are Ready To Fire.
While guns are man-made and subject to failure, it is an absolute rarity to find that a gun fired on its own without manipulation of the trigger. It is not uncommon to see situations where shooters have an accidental discharge while drawing or holstering a pistol. These instances are almost invariably caused by the trigger being pressed either by the eager shooter’s finger, or by something getting in the trigger guard while re-holstering the pistol. To alleviate this safety issue, we must keep our trigger finger out of the trigger guard and extended until we are on target and have decided to shoot. Any sooner than that and the stress of a self defense situation could cause us to squeeze the trigger to early and miss, or worse, injure someone else. To reduce the chance of a discharge when we re-holster our weapon, we should make sure that the path into the holster is clear of garments or debris and stop if we feel any abnormal resistance in the holster.
Final Thoughts On The Four Gun Safety Rules.
The purpose of these rules is to reduce the likelihood of an unintended injury or death by someone with a firearm. In fact, you have to break almost all of these rules simultaneously to have an accidental injury or death occur, however these rules do not slow our reaction down. With regular training and practice we can keep our skills sharp and minds focused and react with speed and precision while processing and deciding what action to take. Building a solid foundation in the aforementioned safety rules will guarantee that we have the most control of our firearm possible.
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