Guns are not cool. They are sometimes necessary, but, no matter what's depicted in movies and TV serials, they are definitely not cool. Nothing that can smash through living tissue and kill or maim can be cool. Dangerous is a better word, and guns must be handled with the utmost care and respect. If you own or use a gun, you are responsible for handling it in such a way that there are no accidents, and storing it in a safe place that cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons and children in particular.
Gun safety is important, because it can:
- Prevent gun-related accidents
- Prevent adults and children from being injured or killed
- Prevent depressed people from killing themselves
- Prevent your gun being stolen and used for committing further crimes
A large percentage of gun-related accidents happen due to sheer carelessness, negligent handling, or half-baked knowledge about using the weapon. Here are some tips for responsible ownership.
- Make sure you are very well-acquainted with how your gun operates, what the different parts are for, how to care for them, and how to load and remove ammunition. Read your gun instruction manual very thoroughly.
- Don't alter or modify your gun. It was designed by experts to meet safety standards and meddling with that can jeopardize your safety.
- Know what kind of ammunition your gun requires, use only factory made correct ammunition and know how to load your gun properly. Get informed about bullet calibers and about how far a bullet can ricochet.
- Load your gun only before you are actually going to use it and unload immediately after use. Make sure there is no ammunition in the gun chamber or magazine. Double-check the gun chamber, receiver and magazine to make sure the gun is unloaded before passing it to someone.
- Don't point the gun muzzle at what you don't intend to shoot. Never point at anything playfully.
- Don't finger the trigger unless you are ready to shoot.
- Always, always know what you are shooting at. Make sure you correctly identify your target and what is beyond it. It is always possible to miss the target and hit something or someone else. Never ever fire at a noise, movement, or a patch of color.
- Wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
- A gun is a mechanical device and can have mechanical problems. So don't blindly rely on your gun's safety mechanism. It may not always work.
- Have your gun serviced regularly by well-qualified, reputable professionals to make sure all the mechanisms are in perfect working order.
- Keep gun unloaded when not in use. Don't carry a loaded gun in a gun case or gun scabbard. Don't store guns loaded.
- Clean your gun before storing, every time before use and every time after use. Debris in the barrel can cause it to explode.
- Use proper gun cleaning solvents and lubricants.
- Keep the gun's action open when not in use.
- Use some commonsense. For example, don't carry a loaded gun when you're trying to climb a tree. Don't play tug with a loaded or unloaded gun either. Guns can accidentally discharge.
- Store guns in a place where they cannot be easily accessed by children and unauthorized people.
- Store ammunition separate from guns.
- It's important that you be in full control of all your faculties when shooting. Never shoot after you have been drinking or doing drugs―in fact, don't do those things. Stay sober. Get plenty of rest. Tiredness can also impair your judgment.
- Make sure all the people with guns in your acquaintance known about gun safety.
- If you are a parent, always ask if there are guns in the house, and if gun safety rules are followed before sending your child over to play at someone's place.
- Children should be taught the NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program instructions―'If you find a gun: STOP! Don't Touch! Leave the Area! Tell an Adult.' Keep in mind though, that teaching children about gun safety isn't enough, preventing access to guns is the only way to avoid tragedies.