Gun safety: how to prevent accidents with firearms

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:24 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - As investigators in New Mexico work to determine how the fatal shooting happened on the set of the movie Rust, firearms instructors teach basic rules to keep people safe.

First and foremost, weapons experts teach that you treat every firearm as if it is loaded. When a person hands a firearm to another person, both are responsible for checking that the firearm is unloaded. With semi-automatic firearms, you need to remove the ammunition magazine, open the action, and visually inspect the firearm to make sure there is no cartridge in the gun. If the magazine is not removed from the gun, when the action is closed, any cartridges in the magazine will load and the gun will be capable of firing.

For a revolver, you need to check the cylinder to ensure there are no rounds in the gun.

Even after the firearm has been checked to make sure it is empty, you still need to treat it as if it were loaded.

The three basic rules of the NRA teach:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use

The first rule of keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction is intended to keep people safe, even if there is an unintended shot, such as the fatal incident on the Rust set.

Safety experts add that you should never point a firearm at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

Additional safety steps include:

  • Know your target and what is beyond
  • Know how to use the gun safely
  • Be sure the gun is safe to operate
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate
  • Never use alcohol, illegal drugs, over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs before or while shooting
  • Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.

Many firearms also have a “safety” that is designed to keep a gun from firing. A safety, however, is a mechanical device that can fail.

The safety rules should be applied to any type of gun, including bb guns, air guns and toys.

Knowing that a gun is not loaded, keeping your finger off the trigger, and keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction can help to ensure there are no injuries, even if something unintended happens.

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