Firearms Safety: Part I

Sep 24, 2012
Editor's Note: The following piece was written by tactical trainer Tiger McKee. If it's important enough for a high-speed trainer to stress it, it's worth repeating: safety is NO accident. by Tiger McKee
The first lesson to learn about firearms is safety. These fundamentals allow you to safely and efficiently use a firearm.
I still find it amazing that the majority of gun owners are not aware of the basics of firearms safety. Even those who have been shooting all their lives sometimes don't understand the four basic safety rules, the reasons for them, and how to incorporate them into their gunhandling. So, this is part one of a four part series on firearms safety. If you are an experienced shooter it never hurts to review the rules, insuring we don't become complacent and make a mistake. For the new firearms owner - and this number is growing daily - it's important to start out by learning the four rules. The four safety rules are: 1. Treat all guns as loaded. 2. Never point the muzzle at anything you're not willing to destroy. 3. Finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target and you are ready and willing to shoot. 4. Be sure to identify your target, and what's surrounding and beyond the target. (These four rules are found in numerous variations, but they all mean the same.) Rule 1 requires you to treat every firearm as a loaded firearm. The key to Rule 1, and the case for the other three rules is consistency. Rule 1 greatly reduces the chance of you making a mistake. If there are times when you treat it like a loaded weapon, but then other times you handle it like it's unloaded, sooner or later you'll get the loaded/unloaded thing mixed up. Mistakes with firearms are embarrassing at best. Often times they are tragic. You have to make Rule 1 a part of your life, and not just when you're the one handling the weapon. You're standing in a group at the range when someone pulls out their new favorite pistol to show it off. At the same time they're waving the muzzle 'round pointing it at everyone. You better correct that problem before it becomes a tragedy. While at the range the gentleman next to you sets his .45-.70 buffalo rifle on the bench, pointing it at you in the process. When you ask him to correct his mistake he replies, "Don't worry, she ain't loaded." Pack your gear and come back another day. The first rule means you always apply the three following rules anytime there is a firearm present. Again, consistency is the key. We'll be going into the details of the other rules in the next three columns. There are no exceptions to this Rule 1. If you don't believe me do a search on the web under "shot with unloaded gun." (2,790,000 hits in .32 seconds.) People are constantly shooting others and themselves with "unloaded" weapons. Firearms were originally designed for fighting. Later people figured out you could use them for hunting, in order to eat, or sport and games. No matter what you use them for, firearms are lethal weapons and should be treated as such. The first and foremost thing in our mind when handling firearms is safety, especially during a lethal confrontation. Rule 1: Treat all guns as loaded. Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, is an adjunct instructor with the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777