Gun safety rules and practice recommendations are intended to avoid accidental discharge or negligent discharge, or the consequences of firearm malfunctions. Their purpose is to eliminate or minimize the risks of unintentional death, injury or property damage caused by improper use, storage or handling of firearms.
Those who practice safe gun handling have a respect for the destructive abilities of a gun. Guns are not toys; they are a weapon that should only be used in self-defense after all other means of escape have been eliminated.
The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances. 2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger. 3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.
When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:
Know your target and what is beyond. Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. Think first. Shoot second.
Know how to use the gun safely.
Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
Gun safety is more than just a set of rules to follow. It is a mindset that becomes a habit with consistent practice and following specific firearms safety rules.