People own guns for many reasons, including hunting, recreation, competitive shooting and for protection. The decision to own a gun should be made carefully and with a full understanding of how the decision will impact you, your family and your community.
Having a gun in the home provides many homeowners with an extra measure of protection and a stronger sense of security, but only when coupled with responsible and safe gun ownership practices. Being a gun owner is a serious and full time responsibility. And, practicing good gun safety requires constant vigilance and discipline.
All gun owners should already be aware of the four principle tenets of safe gun handling, but let’s go over them again. These are cardinal rules. We’ll get into the specifics of practicing good safety at home after we cover these rules.
Always treat a firearm as if it’s loaded.
Without exception. This is the foundational rule of gun safety and must be your mindset when handling firearms – at all times.
Never point a firearm at something you are not willing to destroy.
The muzzle of your firearm should always be pointed in a safe direction (i.e., toward the ground) until you are preparing to sight a target.
Always be sure of your target – and what’s beyond it.
Your responsibility as a gun owner extends beyond your intended target to anything and everything the bullet may impact. Be aware of your surroundings – what is in front of you and beyond.
Never put your finger on the trigger until you intend to pull it.
Despite what you see on TV and movies, no one who practiced good gun safety places a finger in the trigger guard – let alone on the trigger – until the sights are on the intended target.
Complete Gun Safety
Complete safety extends beyond the handling of firearms. There are other rules and recommendations to ensure the safe handling and storage of a firearm in your home.
Keep your firearm in a secure location.
When not in use, your firearm should be stored in a secure location, either a locking cabinet, safe or gun vault that is well concealed. This is to prevent unauthorized access to the weapon – whether that be a curious child or dangerous intruder. Using a wireless door and window sensor will provide an additional measure of assurance you’re firearms are secured. These small sensors can easily be attached to cabinets or the inner walls of a safe to alert you when they’re opened.
Use a locking device on your firearm when it’s not in use.
This should be in addition to – and not in lieu of securing the firearm in a locked container. There are several methods available, some of which include:
- Trigger Lock: Trigger locks sit between the trigger guard and the trigger, making it impossible to fire the gun until the lock is removed. NEVER use a trigger lock on a loaded gun.
- Padlock: Some owners choose to use a padlock to secure their revolvers by placing it through the open cylinder. DO NOT place the padlock behind the trigger as this is not a reliable method.
- Cable lock: A locking cable can be used with either a revolver or semi-automatic. With a revolver, the cable would run through the barrel and lock so the cylinder of a revolver cannot be closed. With a semi-automatic, the cable would run through the ejection port and barrel rendering the gun inoperable.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) will even provide you with a free gun safety kit. Visit their site to find a location in your area.
- Store your ammunition in a separate secure location: By doing so, you add another measure of prevention should someone ever gain unauthorized access to your firearms as they will be unable to load the firearm.
- Be sure you know how to safely operate your firearm: Understand how your gun functions and keep your understanding current. A gun owner truly committed to safety will not employ a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. Instead, it is recommended you periodically practice active gun handling at a nearby gun range so you can maintain your skills.
- Unload, clean and secure your firearm immediately: Do this as soon as you get home. Don’t let anything distract you. Whether returning from a practice session at the range or a hunting trip, your first act upon returning home needs to be securing your firearms. Make sure they’re unloaded, clean then store.
- Educate everyone in your home. Every member of your household should know the rules of safe gun handling. Reinforce gun safety with your children and make sure they know not to ever touch an unattended firearm.
To learn more about safety in the home, we recommend reading our comprehensive Home Security and Life Safety Tips. Also, check out some of our security companies, such as Frontpoint, Guardian Protection Services, and Monitronics.