Firearm Basics: Gun Safety

As firearms owners, we bear a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously; it’s literally a matter of life and death. Since every gun is different, before handling any firearm you need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with that gun. Even if you consider yourself an expert, before handling a new firearm, you need to understand the particular characteristics of that gun.

Practicing shooting at the Gun Range

All too often, I see gun owners who let their ego get in the way of good common sense safety practices. These are guys who have been shooting for years, but are too proud – or too stupid – to ask for help. For instance, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone at the range take an unfamiliar firearm from a friend, without ever asking a single question about that firearm.


In the situation I mentioned above, there should have been a number of things that happened before ever touching that firearm.

Ask if it’s Unloaded: You should always ask if it’s unloaded before ever putting your hands on it. If the person answers yes without checking, tell them to show you.

Check For Yourself: It’s your responsibility to check for yourself!

  1. Point the muzzle in a safe direction, and if the firearm has a safety make sure it’s on.
  2. You should then immediately check to see if it’s loaded. Just because your friend told you it was unloaded doesn’t mean it’s unloaded. There is no such thing as being too safe!
  3. Always treat every firearm as a loaded weapon. Live by the saying, “There is no such thing as an unloaded gun.”

Ask for Help: Don’t be the guy that was too proud, or too stupid, to ask for help; that guy is a danger to himself and everyone around him. When taking an unfamiliar firearm, you should always ask the owner to show you the particular characteristics of that gun. They are all different; from the location of the safety to how it handles, never assume you know how it works.

Safe Firearm Handling and Practices

When it comes to handling a firearm, there are some basic rules that should always be followed.

Always point the Muzzle in a safe direction: If people followed this one rule, virtually all firearm accidents would be eliminated. Remember, your firearms should never be pointed at anything you don’t intend on shooting.

Never Rely on your Guns Safety: While your safety should always be on when you’re not shooting, it should never be counted on to prevent the gun from firing. A safety is a mechanical device that can and will fail; it should never be 100% relied on to stop an accident.

Keep your finger off the Trigger: If you’re not in the process of firing your gun, at no time should your finger ever be inside the trigger guard. The internet is loaded with pictures of morons posing with their finger on the trigger, this practice is not only stupid, it’s likely to get someone killed.

Unsafely putting finger inside the trigger guard

Practice, Practice, Practice: I recently heard a safety instructor say don’t fear the man with many guns, fear the man with one. These are usually the guys who have very little experience shooting; they’re the ones that you hear about on the evening news.

If you can’t remember the last time you went shooting, you’re doing yourself and your family a disservice, and you’re putting your lives at risk. To be a good and safe marksman, you need to practice your shooting skills. Practice not only makes you a better shooter, it also ensures your gun is in good working order when you need it. The last thing you want to find during a self-defense situation is you have a gun that’s not in condition to be fired.

Make sure you are using the Right Ammo: Using the wrong type of ammunition can seriously damage your gun, and can cause seriously injury to yourself and those around you.

Although this seems like common sense, it’s actually a very common mistake that even some seasoned hunters have made out in the field. For example, a common hunting mistake is accidentally loading a 20 gauge shell into your 12 gauge shotgun. This can be a deadly mistake that can cause the barrel of your shotgun to blow out from a lodged shell that has created an obstruction inside your barrel.

12 gauge shells matched to barrel

Know where you are firing, and what’s beyond your target: Once you pull that trigger, you can never get that shot back. Unless you know exactly what you’re shooting at, and what lies beyond that target, you should never take the shot.

Even a small round like a .22lr bullet can travel a distance of about 1 ¼ miles, this means you better be darn sure of what’s beyond your intended target.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS AN UNLOADED GUN: Drill that saying into your head, because it’s probably the most important safety advice that you’ll ever receive. Every firearm you touch should always be considered a loaded weapon; therefore, it needs to be given the respect due a loaded gun.


Firearm Resource:

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. Yes! If you always treat it like it’s loaded, you can never accidentally shoot someone else or yourself. That’s what my father taught me. Great article.

  2. “Never assume you know your weapon.” Well that just sums it up pretty well. When it comes to guns, you can ill afford to drop your guard. Always treat your weapon as loaded and don’t forget to stack them safely in sturdy gunsafes.

  3. Very good article. I would like to add something about kids and guns.
    The earlier you teach a child about guns the better it will be. As soon as a child is old enough to listen for more than 5 minutes you can teach more than just the words, “don’t touch”. Always answer your child’s questions about guns. Don’t make it a mystery or glamorize it. Don’t brush off a kids question or curiosity. Doing so will only make them more determined and more curious. With my 2 kids as soon as they could hold my .22 I had them out practicing with it. I made sure that their curiosity was satisfied and i feel that in doing so it nipped any dangerous exploring that they might have tried to do on their own.

  4. Very well written article! I believe you’ve misinterpreted the “beware the man with one gun” sentiment, however. That saying is meant to imply that, in a gunfight, someone whose entirety of experience is focused on one firearm is likely to be far more confident, competent, natural, and familiar with all of the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of their gun than the typical guy who wheels his cart to the range and “dabbles” with a little bit of everything.

  5. well said every firearm is loaded until you clear it yourself. Once you pass it to someone else it is still loaded until they clear it as well. We had a exercise at the house where we passed different firearms around the living room and tough everyone how to handle, clear, and properly hand the firearm to the next person. This was done to get the kids and women fimilar as well as comfortable with them.

  6. The adage of guns dont kill people , people kill people needs revising , the gun WILL kill , you me or anyone in the line of fire , at any time , UNLESS cleared and made safe! …great article , ob by the way , if that video is advanced training , then I am invincible ! Registered lethal weapon myself ! … be smart , ASK and stay alive !

  7. When it comes to firearms lessons, it’s good to have an age basis upon when and what to teach kids. My daughter is already 5, so I’ll try to enroll her in a class for gun safety. Thanks for the help! Hope this shall serve my daughter well in times of dire needs.

  8. What my question is, how do i learn about the parts of guns learn everything because i’m wanting to make my career out of gunsmithing and i’m trying to learn everything i can.

  9. I Love this site,it is so hard to find information that is understandable.Or information that is needed to help when getting your CCW. I knew basic knowledge of some things but there is a lot of things i knew nothing about.I am serious about owning a handgun and what to make sure I am aware of the knowledge that goes with it.
    Thank You

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