Until recently, I worked at our Mt. Pleasant retail location. Sometimes, when newer customers walk in looking for a firearm to carry, they ask a lot of questions, which is a wonderful thing.
Some of the questions I would often get are:
' Should I get a pistol with a safety? ' What kind of safety features does this pistol have? Safety is very important to me. ' I want a firearm to protect me and my family, what should I get? I'm kind of scared of guns though.
All of these are excellent questions that represent a healthy fear of firearms that shooters who have more time and/or experience under their belts tend to become lax with or forget.
My point isn't to debate carrying a firearm with an external safety vs. internal, or even whether carrying a firearm with only internal safety features. I am focused on getting back to the basics that we all should practice and the general fear of firearms that newer shooters often possess so that we keep ourselves and our family members safe. We should never lose a healthy fear of firearms.
Sometimes being too comfortable is a bad thing. Being too comfy on the couch is ok, being too comfy with a firearm is an action that can have dire consequences. I had a friend who was a bit too comfortable with his rifle when he was in his house. He picked up his rifle, put his finger on the trigger and a round discharged. He was unaware of the rifle being loaded or made the mistake of treating his rifle with nonchalance vs. possessing a healthy fear and practicing firearms basics. Luckily the only thing damaged was a wall and the rear of the fridge. No human life or bodily damage were taken other than some temporary hearing loss. He regained his fundamental fear of firearms that day but the consequences could have taken a life due to his attitude toward the rifle.
Anyone who owns or possesses a firearm should ALWAYS practice these 4 basic rules of firearm safety.
Treat every firearm like it's loaded.
Keep your finger off the trigger at all times until you are ready to shoot.
Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot, PERIOD.
Always know your target and what lies beyond it!
Notice how I bolded the operative verbs for emphasis because these words are key to remember and respect at all times.
1. Treat every firearm like it's loaded.
I was in a gun store in Tennessee once and a customer was taking apart a firearm at the gun counter to get it serviced. He pulled the trigger to take it apart, and the gun fired! The discharged round went down parallel to the gun counter, through the dry wall, and into the concrete. Just prior to him firing the gun, there were two customers about 5 feet down the counter from him where the discharged round traveled. One of the customers could have been killed.
The man who fired the shot insisted 100+ times that he knew the gun was not loaded and had been cleared. The security footage in the store proved him wrong! If he had simply cleared his gun first, and even double or triple checked, that incident would have never happened.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger at all times until you are ready to shoot.
All too often as I travel around to different gun stores (my favority hobby, when the Mrs. isn't with me), I see customers grab a firearm from a store employee who has NOT cleared the gun, and the customers' finger goes right on the trigger. What if someone for whatever reason happened to put a round in the chamber, even if it's a brand new gun that's never been fired? The best thing to do for all parties, at any time, or anywhere (even a gun store!) is to have the bolt or slide locked back, then the person receiving the firearm verifies and holds the gun without putting his or her finger on the trigger. By doing this simple task during an exchange there are two checks within a matter of seconds, and safety continues among everyone present. This basic exchange of keeping your finger off the trigger is repeatedly forgotten and goes a long way to provide safety and security while handling firearms.
3. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot, PERIOD.
Whether you're cleaning your firearm, at the range shooting, or looking at the firearm, NEVER point the muzzle of the firearm at anyone, or anything you would never want to shoot! I have seen customers start look down the barrel of the gun as they are looking at them! Why?! That habit gets to me the worst! It shows the least amount of respect for firearms AND if people actually knew the statistics of accidental discharges and life-altering mistakes that were made because they were looking down the barrel of a firearm, they would NEVER do it.
Ok, ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. But seriously, as owners of firearms we need to ensure that we never point a firearm in the wrong direction; and help others understand this important principal. Even when my family members are in bed at night, and I happen to be up cleaning a gun or moving around my firearms in the safe, I always make sure that the firearms never point towards their bedrooms. This is a safety net that some may see as OCD, but I see it as common sense when it comes to the lives of my family members and should be practiced by everyone who owns or is holding a firearm.
4. Always know your target and what lies beyond it!
As often as we preach situational awareness and its importance in proper self-defense, part of that awareness involves knowing exactly what your target is and everything in-between and beyond. Imagine a scenario where there is a crowd of people gathered around as a bad guy makes his move. Are you capable of engaging the target while staying mindful of what's behind it and what's between you and the target? This may be the last rule on the list, but it is as equally important as the first three.
Bonus: Never Stop Practicing!
When it comes to your home defense pistol, or for your open-carry/concealed-carry firearm, practice is key. NEVER STOP! Even if it is a quick trip to the range every two weeks to shoot 50 rounds, it just may save your life! Speaking of practice, let the video below be some inspiration:
Proper practice helps you get more familiar with your firearm so that you can act under pressure when it could cost someone's life. There are certainly shooters out there who keep a gun beside their bed, but haven't shot it in years. If you are not habitually practicing with your primary firearm, you are risking failure when the time comes to use it. Are you sure it is still in operational condition after years of not being used? Are you certain your skills are as polished today as they were the last time you fired your weapon? If you are betting your life and your family's lives on the answers to those questions, there is no excuse to not be practicing as a habit.
About Josiah McCallum
Josiah McCallum came out of the womb with a Ruger 10/22 in his hand! He is one of the founders of Palmetto State Armory and an avid shooter. He currently works as the Affiliate Marketing Manager for Palmetto State Armory.