John “Jeff” Cooper arguably invented modern-day firearms training. Mr. Cooper came up with the four basic rules for firearm safety. These rules are very simple, and easy to follow. A person would have to violate at least 2 out of the 4 rules to ever injure a person, or have an accidental discharge. These four basic rules for firearm safety when followed will prevent any sort of firearm “accidents”. The fact is there are no firearm accidents, they are only careless gun owners who haven’t followed these simple rules.
ALL GUNS ARE LOADED
Always treat a gun like it is loaded even if you think it’s not. The second you stop treating a gun like it’s loaded you lose respect for how dangerous they can be. If this rule was never broken the other three rules would be more for show than need. I’ve seen more than my fair share of people at gun stores waving guns around and not caring because they aren’t loaded. Even if you have just checked the chamber of you firearm twice. You still treat your firearm like it’s loaded.
There is one thing many firearm owners do that voids this rule. It’s call DRY-FIRE practice. This is the practice of firing an unloaded gun to create muscle memory. It will improve you shooting ability. If you choose to do this sort of practice you will be violating a few of these rules. Do it in the safest way possible. Remember you can never be too careful with a firearm.
NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DESTROY
This is a simple rule. Never let the muzzle of your gun cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy. This means don’t rest the muzzle of your gun on your foot. I know many trap shooter who do this. Personally I don’t approve. I’ve seen hunters rest the muzzle of their gun on their foot so that the gun can easily be picked up and shot. All of these violate this rule. There are also plenty of people who debate on appendix carry of a handgun because when you sit down the muzzle of the gun will cover your manhood. I suggest if you are willing to take yourself out of the gene pool it’s your choose. Never let the muzzle of your gun cover anything you are not willing to lose.
KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
We have all seen that person who instinctively picks up a gun and has his finger on the trigger. This practice is dangerous. I realize fingers don’t usually slip and pull triggers. What does happen is you get startled and pull the trigger when you don’t want to. Any time your finger is covering the trigger there is a chance you will pull that trigger. If you ever watch professional firearms instructors you’ll notice they always keep their finger straight and out side of the trigger guard right up until they are ready to shoot.
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEYOND IT
We all swear we never miss. Anyone who has ever fired a gun will tell you they have missed. If you are lucky enough to have land you can shoot on make sure before you start shooting at targets that you know what is beyond those targets. Even a .22LR bullet can travel a mile. You don’t want to shot a person in their front yard because you didn’t think the bullet would travel to past the field you are shooting in. Better yet you figured the house on the other side of the trees was out of range.
If you don’t know what is beyond a mile from where you are shooting don’t pull that trigger. Another thing to remember bullets will go through drywall, sheet metal, and other object and still be lethal. The safest place to shoot is into the side of a dirt hill, or a legal gun range.