10 Common Gun Safety Errors and How to Avoid Them
Guns go across America. 30 percent of American adults own at least one. Another 11 percent live in a household where someone else owns one.
The sheer numbers suggest that most guns are safe. But any gun can pose a major risk to life and limb. If you own or are planning to buy one, you need to study some gun safety errors.
What are the most common errors that people make? What should you do to avoid them? Where can you go for educational resources for yourself and your family?
Answer these questions and you can avoid injuring yourself through a careless mistake. Here are ten errors you must be mindful of.
1. Assuming the Gun Is Unloaded
Many people remove their clip and assume they have unloaded the gun. But they still have a bullet in the chamber, and the bullet can fire if the trigger is pulled. Many people look down the barrel, see nothing, and assume they have no bullets.
You should remove the clip, magazine, or ammunition from your gun. You should then open up the chamber and remove the bullet inside.
You cannot tell if a gun is loaded just by looking at it. You must open up the chamber in order to tell. Never look down the barrel of a gun, even if you are sure it is unloaded.
Do not carry an unloaded gun on your person. The police do not know that your gun is empty before assuming defensive actions. Store it in a bag out of sight with the safety on.
2. Pointing a Gun Carelessly
Some people point unloaded guns at others as a joke. Others point guns at their heads or at objects.
This is flat-out careless. At a minimum, you will frighten the person you are pointing the gun at. If you point your gun at someone else holding a gun, they can fire on you.
When you are carrying a gun, point it down toward the ground. When you are at a range, point it toward your target away from other people. Never shoot at another target, even ones right next to you.
Always have the safety on your firearm when you are not firing it. Let the people around you know that the safety is on.
3. Not Practicing Trigger Discipline
Many movies show people carrying guns with their fingers on the trigger. This can result in accidentally firing the gun.
When you pick up the gun, put one hand on the grip. Put your other hand over the top of your hand and place your finger next to your trigger. If you need to fire, you can move it quickly and do so.
Position your finger only after you are sure of your target. Get a good sight of where you need to fire and make sure you don’t harm someone else.
You should only shoot at someone if they pose an imminent threat to you. A gunshot wound to the arm or leg can be fatal, so you need to be sure you are at risk. Don’t move your finger so you don’t escalate the situation.
An object can fall onto your trigger and pull it back. Clear the area of any debris and cover the sides of your gun with your hands.
4. Using the Wrong Types of Guns
You should not buy the first gun you see. You do not need a rifle if you are looking to practice shooting or protect yourself.
Most people can use a handgun. You can buy a pistol or a revolver if you are concerned about your gun jamming.
A shotgun can be bulky and hard to fire. But it sprays pellets outward, making it a good gun to hit large targets.
You should only buy a rifle once you have gained experience with gun safety training. Make sure you know how to load it with the proper ammo.
5. Having the Wrong Gun Parts and Accessories
The biggest accessory you need is ammunition. You need to be sure that you are loading your gun with the right ammo. If the caliber is too high, it can explode and send shrapnel into your body.
Many people cheap ammo in order to save money. Cheap ammo is often defective. Spend a little bit more so you can keep yourself safe.
You should get good accessories that match your particular gun. An AR grip goes with AR guns, not other varieties.
A holster may be the most essential accessory. It should fit the dimensions of your gun, allowing it to point downward. It should conceal your firearm and go comfortably on your belt or side.
6. Leaving Your Gun Around the House
380,000 guns get stolen every year in the United States. One major reason why is that many owners leave their guns around the house.
If you are buying a new gun, do not tell anyone else that you are doing so. Never bring it into a room where someone can see it from the outside.
Buy a safe and place it in a closet on the upper level of your house. Pick a random set of numbers. Many thieves have gotten into safes because the owners pick a combination that is easy to guess, like a birthday.
If you own multiple guns, keep track of them. Put them in different locations so a thief cannot steal all of them at once. Any gun you put away should be unloaded, with ammunition located in another part of your house.
7. Not Cleaning the Gun
Plenty of people own a safe. They put their guns inside and then forget about them.
This is a major safety concern. If your barrel is clogged, the gun may burst as you pull the trigger.
Buy a gun cleaning kit if your gun did not come with one. Clean the inside of the barrel and apply oil to the trigger mechanism. Stock your gun with fresh bullets every time you fire it.
Do not use pipe cleaners or soft cloths to clean your firearm. Fibers can fall off, clogging or scraping your gun.
8. Shooting Without Safety Training
Training goes with owning a gun. Before you even make a purchase, you should get lessons at a firing range.
You should learn all components of handling one. You should learn how to hold guns so you don’t get injured by the recoil. You should learn how to examine a target before you pull the trigger.
You don’t stop learning once you have bought the gun. If you go several months without firing it, you should take lessons again. Go to a range where someone can supervise you instead of trying to learn things yourself.
Your first shots may be uncomfortable. Keep practicing until you make things perfect, especially with aiming at a target.
9. Not Educating Children
Children like to play with guns. This is extremely dangerous. They can accidentally pull the trigger and shoot someone, or they can get shot by someone else.
Tell your children to respect the gun. Teach them some basic safety measures if they see the gun, namely trigger discipline. Tell them never to go near one that they see lying on the ground.
You may want to give your children shooting lessons. Wait until they are older before doing so.
Bring them to a supervised range with distant targets. Some ranges offer classes for children, so you can sign them up for classroom instruction.
Never show your children where you store your guns. Keep an eye on their mental health so they are not tempted to use your firearms to harm others.
10. Owning a Gun Without Knowing the Local Laws
Every state has a different set of gun laws. You can own a handgun in every state. But regulations for assault rifles and concealed carry permits vary.
Talk to your gun store about your local regulations. Get some literature about them and study the guidelines closely.
If you are worried about your rights, talk to a firearms lawyer. You can also talk to your local law enforcement agency, though you shouldn’t talk about specifics. They may become anxious if you tell them you are buying several rifles.
The Ten Most Common Gun Safety Errors
Gun safety errors are just as common as guns. Assuming a gun is unloaded, pointing one recklessly, and failing trigger discipline are the most common errors. Point your gun toward the ground with your finger off the trigger whenever possible.
Get a gun that fits your needs, namely a handgun. Make sure you load it with proper ammunition. Store it somewhere safe, but make sure to clean it regularly.
Educate yourself and your children, especially about local laws. Keep up with the latest information on firearms. Follow our coverage for informative guides.