Firearms safety

All posts tagged Firearms safety

To be clear, I have no intention of turning this into a political blog, that said, here are some quick thoughts on the law:

  • Know and follow all state and local laws for purchase, use, carry & transportation of firearms and ammunition.
  • It is up to you to know the law.
  • While there has been a significant increase in the ability for law abiding and appropriately trained civilians to carry concealed – and this is a great and positive thing– not all state laws are the same.  Unfortunately at present, unlike State issued driver’s licenses, which are nationally recognized, not all States may honor your carry permit.  Find out if your destination, or the state you are passing through honors your carry permit before you go.

 

  • Never rely on just the law to keep you safe!  Some current laws are themselves arguably downright dangerous, and at risk of doing more harm than good.  For example, California’s “loaded chamber indicator law” is an abomination. I’m sure the intent was noble, but without proper training, that law alone can cause deadly confusion.  What happens when that kid or new shooter from CA gets his Father’s or Grandfather’s gun,  moves to, or just travels to another state where there is no such law?  One could argue the CA law wrongfully encourages people to assume the the gun is not loaded if they’d don’t see the “loaded chamber indicator”!!  That could be a deadly mistake.  Take it upon yourself to learn and teach the correct way to safety check and safely handle a firearm.  It is not hard.  Learn it! Teach it – especially to your kids!  Never rely on wrongfully implemented “nanny” safety devices.  Not to mention such devices and indicators significantly disadvantage good law abiding citizens if they are ever in a situation where they have to defend their own life, or the lives of their family members.

This is one of those “Firearms Safety” tips you can use anywhere, and everywhere, at all times.  In fact, and while arguably some situations demand more attention than others, you should use this tip everywhere.  You should also teach it your family have them do the same.

So then, why is this a “firearms safety” tip?  Because you need to be extra aware and extra careful whenever you are carrying a firearm… whether you are carrying concealed, going to or from the range, going to or from a hunt, and even when leaving the gun store excited and happy about your new purchase.

 

Situational Awareness is being in tune with your environment.  Put in harsher terms it’s , “don’t walk around with your head up your ass… ”  or with your nose in your iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.  (the same goes for driving…)

  1. Know what is around you.
  2. Know who is around you.
  3. Identify possible dangers and threats.
  4. Avoid putting yourself in dangerous positions.
  5. Put some thought into, “What am I going to do, or where am I going to go if….”
  6. Have a plan, and discuss it with your family.
  7. Try to anticipate other people’s moves, especially if you perceive them to be a threat.

 

Think about your everyday life and your own “Situational Awareness”.  If someone were following you home, would you even know it before they pulled into your driveway right behind you?  If you suspected someone was following you, would you know what do to do to help confirm it – and where to go if in fact you determine they are?  Would your wife?   Would your kids?

 

Dad’s been instructing our family on “Situational Awareness” and other common sense safety tips my entire life, but I recently watched an episode of “The Best Defense” that covered exactly the “being followed home” scenario.  First and foremost, they advised using many of the concepts described here in this post on “Situational Awareness.”  As you leave the shopping malls, the stores, the bars & restaurants and other places, casually scan the surrounding area, taking notice of other cars, drivers and the people walking around.  As you walk up to your car, casually make sure no one is hiding under, around or even inside of it.  As you drive home, keep a casual eye on your rear-view and side view mirrors.  Know what vehicles are on the road with you, and what is behind you.  (Even if you are not being followed, this tip alone can greatly help Law Enforcement, EMS and Fire Fighters get where they need to go…)  Back to possibly being followed, “The Best Defense” recommended making three right turns as a litmus test to determine if someone is following you; 1 – no cause for alarm, 2 – could be coincidence, 3 in a small residential neighborhood?  Put on the 4 way flashers, get on the cell phone with a family member or friend and drive to the nearest police station.

 

Realize many of these same concepts are equally employed when going for that exercise run or walk, when in the mall, and when just casually strolling around.  Again, while arguably more general, common sense safety than specifically “firearms safety”, “Situational Awareness” is significantly more important when firearms are involved.

 

You don’t have to be overboard or even obvious about it, but be in tune with your surroundings.  Put some thought into it this topic.  The greatest and the best of all safety devices is one between our ears – and we all have it.

Constant muzzle awareness is key to staying safe – at home, at the range and in the field.

In order to ensure you are always pointing your firearm in a safe direction, you must know which way the muzzle is pointing and what’s in that direction.  Sounds easy and obvious enough, but here are a couple of tips to help ensure you do it correctly.

When you get to the range or the hunting fields and it’s time to get your firearm out of its case:

When it finally comes time to hit the range or go hunting, you’re naturally going to be excited and have a lot on your mind.  Make sure basic safety is always at the forefront of your thoughts.

  1. Maintain “Situational Awareness“.  Take a minute to scan the area, determine it is safe and appropriate to take your weapon out of its case.  If it is, then move to the next step.
  2. Put the gun case on a stable platform, like a range bench or the tailgate of your pickup, as two examples.
  3. Unlock the case and undo the latches or unzip the case as appropriate.
  4. Open the case just enough to determine which way the muzzle is pointing.
  5. Make a safety assessment. Is the weapon pointed in a safe direction?
  6. If the firearm is not pointed in a safe direction, close the case, and rotate or turn the case (with the weapon still inside) until the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction.
  7. Only once you are sure the weapon is pointed in a safe direction should you remove your firearm from its case.
  8. Once your firearm is out of its case, follow all relevant range or hunting safety regulations. (i.e. pointed downrange, action locked open, safety flag inserted in chamber, etc. etc.)

Never to touch the firearm or pull it out of its case if it is not pointed in a safe direction.

 

Talking to those around you, and just looking around with a firearm in you hands:

For most of us it just comes naturally to look at the person we are talking to.  This often means turning our body to face that person or group of people, squaring-off with them.  You may not have ever thought about this, and it might come so naturally you might not even realize you  do it.  It’s just an everyday common courtesy and normal part of social etiquette.  Most of the time it’s not a problem at all, and not even something you have to think about.  However, put a gun in your hands, and that “natural” act can become a major problem and safety concern if without realizing it, you just unintentionally pointed your firearm in an unsafe direction.  Here are a couple of tips to help ensure your normal social behavior doesn’t make you a risk at the range or in the field.

  1. Stay focused on what you are doing.
  2. Know who and what are around you at all times.
  3. Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction – preferably down range, at the ground (but not your own, or anyone else’s feet!) or least preferably, towards the sky.
  4. Stay focused on what you are doing.
  5. When handling firearms, get in the habit of just turning your head to talk to those around you, or turning your body except for that arm that’s holding the firearm.  Keep that in a safe direction.
  6. Stay focused on what you are doing…

 

Some additional thoughts on hunting safety when in the field:

Realize it or not, hunting is more dangerous than shooting at the range.  When at the range, the shooting areas, target areas and safety zones are all generally very well defined.  “Downrange” tends to be very obvious.  The entire range is usually designed with safety in mind, setup with all shooting lanes having parallel, or back-to-back lines of fire.  The target backstops are usually very obvious, well setup and built for pupose.  While it is still up to you to make a safety determination, and you should still never shoot if you have any questions, concerns or doubts, you tend to trust that the range has done their best to ensure to help ensure safe target areas and appropriate shooting backstop.  Therefore, realize it or not, you are more confident about the “Know your target and beyond” safety rules at the range.  Additionally, since everyone at the range is generally shooting from the same area, you get a chance to observe your range partners and make judgements on their safety habits before you decide to start shooing.  Lastly, most ranges have very well trained staff on site to not only help you ensure your shooting experience is a positive one, but help ensure everyone stays safe.

Hunting is a different situation.  There is no range officer looking over your shoulder, ready to remind you if you are a little less than perfectly disciplined with your safe handling technique.  While there are well defined “Safety Zones”, not all shooters will be shooting from the same area, or even in a common “downrange” direction.  You don’t have designated target areas.  There aren’t necessarily purpose built backstops ready to stop bullets from traveling too far or from going in an unsafe direction.  You won’t always get a chance to observe the safe handling techniques of your fellow hunters the same way you can observe other shooters while at the range.  You are still governed by very clear rules and regulations, but it is up to you and your fellow hunters to be disciplined and stay safe.  Always maintain “Situational Awareness” as what and who is around you can constantly change in the field.  Know and follow all “Firearms Safety – Rules to Live By“.  Maintain Constant Muzzle Awareness.  Know, practice and implement the safe hunter carry positions.

First. Foremost. Always!  As Harry Potterfield from MidwayUSA says, “Firearms safety is your responsibility.”

Directly from the NRA:

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:

  • Know your target and what is beyond.
  • Know how to use the gun safely.
  • Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
  • Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
  • Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
  • Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded.

In addtion to the above, Remington’s 10 Commandment of Firearms Safety also reminds us:

  • Don’t rely solely on your gun’s safety.  (Your safety, if equipped is to be in conjunction with NOT as a replacement for safe handling.)
  • If you gun fails to fire when you pull the trigger, handle with care. Continue to follow other safe handling procedures, especially to keep the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
  • Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.