Guidelines for Gun Safety
Rule #1: Treat all weapons as if they are loaded.
Treating a gun as if it is loaded pushes owners to be extra careful. Whether you’re planning to clean your gun, send it off for repair, or simply handing it to someone, always do a chamber check first.
Rule #2: Do not point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
For safety reasons, do not point your gun anywhere except for the target. When not in use, simply point the gun toward the ground and keep your finger off the trigger.
Rule #3: Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are pointing it at your intended target.
Resting one’s finger on the trigger, and even the trigger guard, is unsafe. In some cases, it might even cause a negligent discharge (ND).
If you’re simply holding the gun, it’s best to rest your finger against the frame of the gun.
Once you’re ready to fire, it only takes 1/10th of a second to move your finger onto the trigger and squeeze.
Rule #4: Know what is between you and your intended target and beyond.
Before firing a gun, make sure to cover all your bases by assessing your area and potential scenarios. If for any reason you fail to hit your target, what are the odds it will hit something or someone else instead?
These are often referred to as the 4 Golden Rules of Gun Safety.
While they were being shared in various written forms dating back to the early 1900s, Commander Jeff Cooper is generally credited with having first codified them in 1991 when he published The Modern Technique of the Pistol.
There are other gun safety rules (many sites use 10 Golden Rules), but for the most part they primarily expand on the principles these 4 rules convey.
It’s always worth looking up and understanding this wider range of gun safety rules, but you should at the very least have these 4 memorized.