The Four Cardinal Safety Rules of Firing a Handgun
1. Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded. No ifs, ands, or buts. Even if you know the gun is unloaded, still handle it as if it were loaded.
2. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, a direction where a negligent discharge would cause minimum property damage and zero physical injury. According to Mike, even the most experienced gun handlers break this rule all the time. They’ll take a gun and start pointing it all over the place while exclaiming, “Ah, sweet bro, this gun is kickass.”
“They don’t even know they’re doing it,” says Mike, “which makes it even more dangerous.”
The safest direction to point a gun is always downrange (as long as there aren’t any people downrange!).
3. Always keep your trigger finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you have made a conscious decision to shoot.
4. Always be sure of your target, backstop, and beyond. You want to be aware of what’s in your line of fire. This isn’t usually a concern if you go to a professional gun range. They make sure that people and property stay out of the path of the guns firing downrange. Where this becomes a concern is when you go shoot with your buddy out on his property.
“Ask your friend what exactly is beyond the target and backstop you’re shooting at, especially when you’re shooting into a wooded area. Don’t just settle for, ‘Oh, don’t worry. There’s nothing back there.’ Ask specifically if there are any houses, property, etc beyond your backstop. Err on the side of being overly cautious,”