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Gun Safety

last updated: March 2, 2013

Basic Firearm Safety

The following are basic safety rules for handling any firearm. They should be followed at all times!

  1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded at all times
  2. Never point any firearm, even if you believe it is unloaded, at anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger unless you are sighted on target (and willing to fire on that target).
  4. Never pass a weapon to another person until either the cylinder is open or the slide is locked open and you have visually inspected the barrel for a round.
  5. Before handling any firearm make sure you are completely aware of its operation.
  6. Never rely on a mechanical 'safety' (e.g. always assume the weapon is 'hot')
  7. If you witness others behaving unsafely with a weapon be sure to report it.
  8. Always use eye and hearing protection when shooting or while around others that are shooting.
  9. Always make sure the ammunition you are using is compatible with your firearm.
  10. Never use ammunition that is corroded or rusted.

Target Related Firearm Safety

  1. Positively identify your target and what may be behind it before firing
  2. Never fire at a hard surface or water to avoid a ricochet.
  3. Never shoot across a road or highway


  1. If a round of ammunition fails to fire keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction for no less than 30 seconds before cycling the action.
  2. If the round fires shortly after the trigger is pulled (what's known as a hang fire) the ammunition being used should be checked immediately.
  3. If the round does not fire at all the ammunition being used should be checked immediately.
  4. If a round emits a quiet 'pop' instead of the normal sound unload the weapon and have it checked by a gunsmith. This is what's called a squib load (when the primer fires but fails to ignite the powder). Firing another round after experiencing a squib load could lead to damage to the weapon or the barrel exploding, causing injury or possibly death.
  5. If the weapon fails to feed another round (semi-auto firearms) it, along with the ammunition, should be inspected by a gunsmith immediately.
  6. If the empty casing fails to eject and becomes caught in the action (a 'stove pipe') the weapon and ammunition should be inspected by a gunsmith immediately.
  7. If the weapon fires after cycling the action, without pulling the trigger (known as a slam fire) the weapon should be inspected by a gunsmith immediately.

Useful Suggestions

  1. Never handle a firearm if you are tired, or impaired in any way.
  2. Receive training before shooting and additional instruction prior to shooting any unfamiliar weapon.