In light of recent events such as the school shootings in Connecticut and California, and past tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shooting and the Columbine shootings, we are constantly reminded of the potential dangers of firearms. Firearms can provide a great deal of security and safety for society but can also lead to tragedies such as accidental shootings, hunting accidents, and premeditated attacks. It is for these reasons it is paramount that every individual, whether you own a firearm or not, be aware of the safety measures that should be taken with firearms.
General Firearm Safety Rules
There are a few fundamental rules that should always be followed when dealing with firearms.
- ALWAYS make sure the gun is pointed in a SAFE DIRECTION!
- This is the number one gun safety rule. What is a safe direction? It means the firearm is pointed so that if it were to discharge, it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
- ALWAYS keep your finger away from the trigger mechanism until you are ready to fire the gun.
- When holding the firearm, make sure you rest your finger on the trigger guard or the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger mechanism.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until you intend to use it.
- Whenever you pick up a firearm, you should immediately activate the safety device if possible, and if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should obtain no ammo. If you do not know how to operate the action or inspect the chamber(s) for ammunition, then leave the gun alone and get help from an experienced individual.
Following these simple rules will prevent the majority of all unintentional firearm related fatalities and injuries!
Storing a Firearm
Aside from the general firearm safety rules, storing the firearm properly is the second most important action you can take. When properly storing a firearm, prevention from un-authorized users is obtained. This well keep children and those intending to use the firearm for unauthorized uses from accessing and using it. Follow these simple guidelines for storing your firearm safely:
- NEVER store your firearm with any type of ammunition
- NEVER store a loaded firearm
- ALWAYS store the firearm with the safety mechanism activated and the action open when possible
- ALWAYS make sure the firearm is locked away with a minimum of two security devices.
- Gun locks are inexpensive and readily available. In, fact many police departments offer free gun locks when a new firearm is purchased.
- It is best to use a gun lock that secures the trigger mechanism or secures the action from operating along with a locked gun cabinet or gun case/safe.
- Keep the keys to your locks in a place only you are aware of and that would not be commonly looked for by (such as on your key ring).
Additional Safety Rules
When operating a firearm, always follow these rules:
- Know your target and what is beyond.
- Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
- Know how to use the gun safely.
- Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling
- Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
- Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
- Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
- Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
- Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
- Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
- Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
- Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
- Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
- Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.
- Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
- Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
- A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
- Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.
What to do in Case of A Shooting Injury
Unfortunately, shooting injuries do happen, whether intentional or accidental. It is important that you know what to do in the event you or someone else is injured by a firearm.
- ESCAPE from danger/PREVENT further injury
- In the event you or a loved one is injured by a firearm, the first measure is always to escape from further danger. If the injury is due to a violent act, do whatever possible to get away. Unfortunately, all situations provide different scenarios and escape is not always an option. If not, try to stay calm and follow the remaining steps until help arrives.
- If the injury is accidental, make sure the firearm is prevented from causing further harm. Assure the firearm is unloaded and the action remains unloaded and the gun is placed pointed in a safe direction. Separate the ammunition from the gun.
- GET HELP
- If possible, immediately call 911 and make sure they are completely aware of the situation
- If it is not possible to immediately call 911, get someone who is with you to go and call for medical assistance
- If you are injured and alone, follow the next step and THEN TRY TO GET HELP
- APPLY CONSTANT PRESSURE to the wound and ELEVATE the INJURED REGION above the level of the heart.
- You must make sure you prevent as much blood loss as possible. The majority of firearm deaths are due to excessive blood loss. If you have an extremity that is injured and cannot control the bleeding with constant pressure and elevation above the heart, use anything you can to apply a tourniquet between the injury and your heart. A tourniquet is simply a tightened band that attempts to cut of circulation to the injured area. Tie it as tight is possible without causing further injury.
- Do not remove any measures to stop bleeding, simply add more bandages/cloths on top of soaked ones.
- Make sure you apply these measures to both the entrance and exit wound (if present).
- Stay Warm and Dry
- Blood loss makes the body more susceptible to hypothermia, stay warm and dry to prevent this.
- STAY PUT if possible
- Unless you have been unable to get access to 911, do not exert yourself and try to stay calm. If you still have been unable to get to someone for help. Try to make it to the closest possible help. Crawling may be the best method of travel in this situation as it will decrease the load on your heart as opposed to trying to walk.
Below are a few downloads that will help you prevent injury from firearms.
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