The 3 Rules of Firearm Safety
1. All firearms are always loaded.
2. Never point the firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to pull it.
Safety is a key aspect of effectively handling your weapon. If you follow the rules above you will never have a Negligent Discharge of the firearm. We say negligent discharge, and not “accidental discharge” because it is no “accident” about choosing to break one of these three rules. Guns don’t go off by themselves. You are the one responsible for the safety of your weapon. I like to think of safety as a conscious decision we make, not something that happens automatically when we flip a switch on our firearm. Following these three rules, all the time, is a sign that the individual operating the firearm takes weapon safely seriously.
When picking a weapon up, these are the steps I take to make a weapon safe if it was, even for a moment, out of my immediate control. Following the 3 rules posted above, I conduct the following:
- Before picking up the firearm I decide if I am fully capable of handling it and pointing it in a safe direction safely.
- If there is a magazine in the weapon I remove it first. This removes the source of extra ammo from the weapon and if, for some reason, I cause the weapon to fire, removing the magazine first keeps a second round from entering the chamber and creating the possibility of a second negligent discharge.
- If the system allows it, I will place the manual safety to “safe” before opening the chamber. If a round is not ejected when opening the chamber I will assume that there is still one inside of it and inspect it both visually and physically. Even in broad daylight people will still sometimes miss that casing in the chamber. So after visually checking the chamber, I stick the tip in my little finger in it for added value; exponentially reducing the possibility of missing that there is a live round in the chamber.
- I then, depending on my mission for the moment, either keep the weapon safe or do an administrative reload.
I want to add that it is important to be consistent in your safety. Whether on a range conducting a class, or at home by yourself, the day you “skip a step” is the day you are asking for a negligent discharge. We should strive to follow these steps every single time we handle a weapon; even if it is a Glock with a training barrel installed in it for safety, or a BB gun.
Remember that safety is a conscious choice.