Guest Post: Five Back-to-Basics Guidelines for Gun Safety, by Madison Parker

Whether you’re using a gun for home security, hunting, or whether you just enjoy shooting, there are some basic guidelines for gun safety you need to follow. You’ll hear these guidelines in every gun safety course, and you’ll see them printed on the instructions of almost any new firearm you purchase.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of negligent discharges happen because people fail to follow these basic guidelines. It’s always worth taking a few minutes and refreshing them in your mind, just to make sure you’re following them at all times.

Here are five of the key guidelines for gun safety:

  • Don’t point at something you don’t want to kill or destroy. This is essential. About 30 percent of hunting accidents come from self-inflicted injuries. This means that the barrel or muzzle was pointed at a body part. Know where your gun is pointed at all times, and look far enough out to see what might get hit if the gun goes off.
  • Always assume a gun is loaded. You should treat every gun as if it’s got ammunition in the chamber. Get in the habit of treating your guns like that all the time, and you’ll never have to worry about a negligent discharge.
  • Keep away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. The trigger guard is there for a reason. Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you’ve aimed and your gun is pointed at something you intend to kill or destroy.
  • Store your gun safely. Generally speaking, your gun and ammunition should be kept separate. If you intend to use your gun for home defense, consider a gun safe or gun box with a keypad lock that lets you – and only you – get in and get your gun fast.
  • Don’t mix alcohol and ammunition. Never handle a weapon if you’ve been drinking or using drugs. Watch out for prescription medications that can dull the senses, slow your reflexes, or impair your judgment, as well.

Diligently follow these five guidelines and you’ll avoid almost every conceivable gun accident scenario.

(Madison Parker writes on subjects related to home security systems. You can read more on her blog:

JWR Adds: The late Colonel Jeff Cooper also included this rule in his list: “Be sure of your target. Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing.”