4 Rules for Handling a Firearm
How to Keep Yourself, and Those Around You, Safe
Given everyone’s ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 virus, and its impacts on our daily lives, one interesting phenomena that we are seeing is a lot of people that have never owned a firearm heading to their local gun store to purchase either a handgun, shotgun or rifle. Some of these individuals have never considered owning a gun before, and some of them seem to be anti-gun people that have had a change of heart given the social turbulence that they see around them. Whatever the cause, we are glad to see people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights and rethinking their gun ownership positions.
Based on the FBI statistics what we are seeing locally is happening all across the United States. In fact, January 2020 had the fourth-highest number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks ever for a month - totaling 2,702,707 checks. February exceeded that number recording 2,802,467 background checks, with 797,221 of these checks occurring between 21 February and 1 March 2020 - the third-highest level since 1998.
In total 338,509,235 NICS background checks have been completed since the system started operations in November 1998; approximately 8 million background checks more than the entire population of the United States of 330 million people.
Here’s the FBI’s data from November 1998 through February 2020.
Here’s the FBI’s data for January and February 2020 – broken down by State
If you want to see more of the FBI’s NICS data here are the direct links:
As with most things in life, this explosion of people realizing that they need to be able to defend themselves (and taking actions to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to purchase firearms to do so), has both pros and cons.
Biggest Pro – People understand that they are responsible for their own protection - especially since the average response time in the United States for the Police to arrive after being called is 9 minutes and 35 seconds – even in the best of circumstances.
Biggest Con – There are a whole lot of new gun owners out there with firearms that they haven’t trained with and, in many cases, really don’t know how to effectively use safely.
So that brings us to today’s real blog topic: The 4 Rules of Gun Safety. Initially developed by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper in 1976 at “Gunsite”, his ranch in northern Arizona dedicated to teaching and advancing the knowledge that Cooper had developed as his “Modern Technique” approach to effectively using firearms. Cooper’s initial version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety was:
Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy.
Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Rule Four: Always be sure of your target.
For safety’s sake every gun owner should commit these 4 rules to memory, and should follow them 100% of the time to maximize safety and minimize accidents. Responsible gun ownership means learning and practicing the behaviors that help prevent needless accidental injury and/or death – in all situations.
Over the past 40 years numerous variations to the wording of Cooper’s original 4 Rules have proliferated – mostly to provide additional clarity. The version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety that we prefer are:
Based on these four rules some key points that we like emphasize to other shooters (both new – and yes – sometimes old timers too) are:
One last note. Over the past several years, as gun safety has been highlighted, a new rule seems to be emerging:
We like this rule since you should obviously store your guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized people; including your children, friends, and other people that might have access to your home and/or firearms - wherever they are located.
For more details and opinions about the 4 Rules of Gun Safety here are some other great online reference sources:
- A Girl & A Gun: “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
- Keepgunssafe.com – “The Four Primary Rules of Firearm Safety”
- Cheaper Than Dirt Blog – “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
To really drive the point home, here's a great video from Colion Noir discussing the same topic for new gun owners: "7 Things You Should Do After Buying Your First Gun":
In addition, here are two videos from Paul Harrell where he gives his "tips on how non-firearms enthusiasts can make good decisions in buying firearms" during today's situation:
So, whether you are a new gun owner or an old hand, play it safe and follow The 4 Rules of Gun Safety whenever you are around firearms.
I like how you talked about how proper gun ownership means that you are following the right behaviors to prevent accidents. I am wanting to purchase a hunting rifle so that I can take my son deer hunting with me next spring. It seems like it would be a good idea for me to find some kind of safety class to take since I have never owned a firearm before.
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