Whether it’s fishing at the lake or shooting hoops at the local YMCA, certain truths exist in every activity. It is one of the beauties of being a reflective organism. The more we do something, the better we tend to be at it.
Think of any activity you indulged in for the first time. It can be anything. Now, track your evolution along the way. Did you get better? I’m willing to bet green money that if you approached things seriously, you definitely did.
When I was young, I started playing ice hockey. My first time on the rink was a sight, to say the least. I had difficulty skating and stopping was only done by crashing into the boards at full speed. Yet, the more I suited up and got on the ice, the better my performance was.
I started uncovering how to skate smoother, to stickhandle with the puck, and by the end of my first season, I even learned how to stop without needing an inanimate object. Consequently, not all of my improvements were physical. In fact, I would argue my mental approach to the sport helped me improve far quicker than my peers at my level.
The parallel; no matter the activity, if one is open to learning with a positive attitude, then they invariably do. Over time, we uncover certain principles in a given discipline. When applied, these principles facilitate a smoother, more rewarding experience.
GUN SAFETY 101
The name of the game is safety. Contrary to what logic suggests, even the most seasoned gun owners forget this. As with other crafts, gun safety has its own guidelines that have proved immovable over time.
Anyone with a shred of experience with guns knows most of these. However, sometimes revisiting the basic fundamentals of a discipline refreshes potentially dormant muscles.
GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED, EVEN WHEN THEY’RE NOT
This one is the most important and basic of the core principles. Every day, a tragic story surfaces that could have been entirely avoidable had this rule been adhered to.
Guns are serious business. There’s no other product on Earth that can cause the damage that a firearm can. Thus, approaching the handling of guns with this in the front, and not the back of your mind, mitigates the risks.
I am not saying accidents can’t happen, but a responsible gun owner does everything in his power to prevent them.
A perfect comparison is a dog owner. One can train a dog to such a degree that even Caesar Milan would be impressed. Nevertheless, a truly competent dog owner never forgets that in the end, a dog is an animal. Hence, being privy to the fundamental fact that a dog is an animal, or that a gun can kill, mitigates the chances of something unforeseen happening.
Translation: a gun is always a gun and has the potential to inflict unalterable damage.
MUZZLE DIRECTION IS EVERYTHING
This rule is the cousin to rule number one. By being conscious of the fact that a gun can cause serious damage, one is more likely to handle it with deft and precision. Remember, anything a firearm is pointed at is in danger.
With this in mind, an alert gun owner keeps the muzzle in an optimal position. When outdoors, pointed at the ground or in the air are your safest bets. When at the range, our gun muzzles should always be pointed towards the backstop.
This principle is about being in the moment and not allowing one’s mind to wander. This is increasingly difficult to accomplish in the modern world since so many of us are constantly distracted [thank you, technology]. The best advice; be alert, and in the moment.
KEEP YOUR FINGERS OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL…
Trigger discipline. Look it up. I had no idea what it meant until my first gun instructor repeated it time and again. Assuming you’ve somehow pointed your weapon at an unintentional target, not having your finger on the trigger can instantly diffuse a disastrous outcome. Insulating oneself with a series of checks and balances mitigates the likelihood of something bad from happening.
It may not be a one hundred percent failsafe, but when talking numbers, trigger discipline certainly paves the way for safer outcomes.
ALWAYS CLEAR YOUR FIREARM
The moment you pick up your firearm, your sole intention should be to deduce if it is empty.
For semi-automatic weapons, this means releasing the magazine and inspecting the chamber. It’s important to get in the habit of doing this every time you handle your weapon of choice.
The behavior becomes automated if practiced with consistency. Our patterns dictate the way our lives play out. Hence, with firearms in particular, we end up on solid ground when the patterned behavior is synonymous with safety.
WHEN HIGH OR HAMMERED, LEAVE IT ALONE
Growing up, how many times were you told about the inherent dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence? Countless, I’m sure, and there was a reason why. Driving is serious; one miscue and you can end up in the morgue while possibly taking others with you.
The same thing goes when handling firearms. The judgment needed to handle guns is greatly diminished when one’s brain is under the effects of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription pills. Personally, I don’t bother with my arsenal until I’ve had a healthy dose of caffeine coursing through my blood.
Unless you’re sharp and in the moment, leave your firearms locked away. That way, you and everyone around you are, get this… safe.
STORE YOUR FIREARMS SAFELY
Often overlooked by gun owners, this rule mustn’t be underestimated particularly if there are children in the house. Gun ownership should be rebranded as responsible gun ownership – in my opinion, if one is reckless with their weapon, they forfeit the right to possess it.
Securely storing your weapons is a must. Heaven forbid an intruder gains access to your home, the last thing you need is the perp accessing your arsenal of guns.
If you’re the only one who has access, then you control all the cards. In this case, the house always wins, exactly what any law-abiding gun owner desires.
In closing, owning a gun is as important today as at any other time in American history. Our country is divided, and violent crime continues to sweep throughout the Union. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
If you don’t own a firearm, now is the precise moment to do so.
Yet, before diving in like Galahad, it is vital to acknowledge the necessity of gun safety. The tenets discussed, if adopted, will assist you on the path to becoming a responsible gun owner.
Keep in mind that your journey is never complete. Even the most seasoned individuals can get complacent. It’s a good idea to look into more training on the safe handling of firearms. The best adage; you’re never too old or experienced to know more.
If you have some tips, please feel free to add them in the comments section.
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