THE NRA'S GUIDE TO FIREARM SAFETY
NRA Gun Safety Rules
A Guide to Firearm Safety
A Parent's Guide to Safety
NRA Gun Safety Rules (available
Three Fundamental Rules For Safe Gun Handling
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.
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.
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. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
Be sure the gun is safe to operate. Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun's general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun's ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
Know how to use the gun safely. Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun's mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
Use only the correct ammunition for your gun. Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate. Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting. Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons. Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person's particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.
Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun's action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.
A Guide to Firearm Safety (available as brochure)
When handling, using, or storing any type of firearm, safety must be your first concern. Gun safety rules must be understood and applied in all situations involving firearms.
The three fundamental rules of gun safety must always be applied simultaneously when handling or using a gun:
1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
The following gun safety rules should also be observed when using or storing a gun:Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
Know your target and what is beyond. Be sure the gun is safe to operate. Know how to use the gun safely. Use only the correct ammunition for your gun. Wear hearing and eye protection as appropriate. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting. Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) provides a variety of courses in its Basic Firearm Training Program. These courses are conducted by NRA Certified Instructors and are available in the following subject areas: pistol, rifle, shotgun, home firearm safety, personal protection, and muzzleloading. Contact the NRA Training Department at (703) 267-1430 for a list of instructors in your area. For more information on firearm safety, contact: NRA's Education & Training Division at (703) 267-1500.
Types Of Guns And Gun Actions
The two basic types of firearms are pistols (handguns) and long guns. The most common types of pistols in use today are revolvers and semi-automatics. The most common types of long guns are rifles and shotguns.
To understand how a firearm works, it is first necessary to understand the firearm's action. The action is a group of moving parts used to load, fire, and unload a gun. A gun is usually identified by its type of action. Various gun actions and unloading techniques are described here. When unloading a gun, always eject the cartridges into your hand or onto a soft, clean surface.
CAUTION:This brochure provides only general information about firearms. Due to the large variety of mechanical designs available, some guns will differ from the descriptions in this brochure. Some guns also require different handling and unloading techniques. For this reason, always be sure to get proper training from a competent instructor. Also read and understand the gun's instruction manual. If you have any questions or problems, consult a knowledgeable person.
Some long guns use a magazine. A magazine is a storage device designed to hold cartridges ready for insertion into the firing chamber. The location of the magazine may vary depending upon the action, model, and make of the gun. Various types of magazines also exist. Two of these magazine types are described below.
A box magazine is usually found in the location shown here. Some box magazines are detachable and can be removed by depressing a button, latch, or similar release device. Other types of box magazines are not detachable. Some have a hinged floorplate, and are unloaded by pressing a release device that allows the floorplate to open and the cartridges to drop out of the magazine. Other types of non-detachable magazines do not have a releasable floorplate, and the cartridges are usually ejected by carefully opening and partially closing the action.
A tubular magazine is usually found in one of the locations shown here. Some tubular magazines have an inside tube which must be removed in order to let cartridges drop out of the magazine. The action must also be opened and partially closed several times in order to be sure that no cartridges are left in the magazine. Other types of tubular magazines do not have a removable inside tube, and the cartridges are usually removed by carefully operating the action of the gun. Because a cartridge can become stuck in a magazine tube, the gun may still contain a cartridge after the above steps have been taken. Therefore, leave the action open to prevent a cartridge from being moved into the chamber.
NOTE: Read the manufacturer's instructions for unloading your type of gun. However, whenever possible: (1) avoid handling the gun when a cartridge is in the chamber; and (2) avoid working the action in such a way that a cartridge is fully inserted into the chamber.
1.Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2.Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3.Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
To Unload Single Actions:
Muzzle Loading Guns
This brochure is not intended as a complete course in gun safety and is not a substitute for formal, qualified instruction in the handling, use, or storage of firearms.
For more information about the NRA's Basic Firearm Training Program please contact the NRA Training Department at 703-267-1430.
To join NRA today, or for additional information regarding membership, call 1-800-NRA-3888. Your membership dues can be charged to VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover.
A Parent's Guide to Gun Safety (available as brochure)
The Parents' Responsibility
In a home where guns are kept, the degree of safety a child has rests squarely on the child's parents. Parents who accept the responsibility to learn, practice and teach gun safety rules will ensure their child's safety to a much greater extent than those who do not. Parental responsibility does not end, however, when the child leaves the home.
According to federal statistics, there are guns in approximately half of all U.S. households. Even if no one in your family owns a gun, chances are that someone you know does. Your child could come in contact with a gun at a neighbor's house, when playing with friends, or under other circumstances outside your home. It is critical for your child to know what to do if he or she encounters a firearm anywhere, and it is the parents' responsibility to provide that training.
Talking With Your Child About Gun Safety
There is no particular age to talk with your child about gun safety. A good time to introduce the subject is the first time he or she shows an interest in firearms, even toy pistols or rifles. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective than just ordering him or her to "Stay out of the gun closet," and leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a child's natural curiosity to investigate further.
As with any safety lesson, explaining the rules and answering a child's questions help remove the mystery surrounding guns. Any rules set for your child should also apply to friends who visit the home. This will help keep your child from being pressured into showing a gun to a friend.
Toy Guns vs. Real Guns
It is also advisable, particularly with very young children, to discuss gun use on television as opposed to gun use in real life. Firearms are often handled carelessly in movies and on TV. Additionally, children see TV and movie characters shot and "killed" with well-documented frequency. When a young child sees that same actor appear in another movie or TV show, confusion between entertainment and real life may result. It may be a mistake to assume that your child knows the difference between being "killed" on TV and in reality.
If your child has toy guns, you may want to use them to demonstrate safe gun handling and to explain how they differ from genuine firearms. Even though an unsupervised child should not have access to a gun, there should be no chance that he or she could mistake a real gun for a toy.
What Should You Teach Your Child About Gun Safety?
If you have decided that your child is not ready to be trained in a gun's handling and use, explain that he or she must not touch a gun in your home, unless you are present and have given permission. If your child sees a gun outside the home, teach him or her to follow the instructions of NRA's Eddie Eagle ® Gun Safety Program:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
The initial steps of "Stop" and "Don't Touch" are the most important. To counter the natural impulse to touch a gun, it is imperative that you impress these steps of the safety message upon your child.
In today's society, where adult supervision is not always possible, the direction to "Leave the Area" is also essential. Under some circumstances, "area" may be understood to be a room if your child cannot physically leave the apartment or house.
"Tell an Adult" emphasizes that children should seek a trustworthy adult - neighbor, relative or teacher - if a parent or guardian is not available.
The NRA's Eddie Eagle ® Gun Safety Program includes an instructor guide, activity books, poster, and an animated video to explain its four-step safety message. For more information about the program or to obtain the materials, call (800) 231-0752.
Where to Get Training
The time may come when you or your family members want to learn to handle and shoot a gun safely. In the case of a child, his or her attitude, learning ability, and physical and emotional maturity are some of the factors to be weighed before allowing formal instruction to begin.
When a parent decides a young person is ready, many training opportunities are available. Providing instruction in the safe handling, use, and storage of firearms is one of NRA's most important functions. NRA Basic Firearm Training courses, taught by 36,000 NRA Certified Instructors, are offered in every state. A program called "FIRST" STEPS (Firearm Instruction, Responsibility and Safety Training) provides a three-hour orientation to your specific firearm. For more information about taking any of these courses, please call our automated voice menu system at (703) 267-1430.
Gun Owners' Responsibilities
Most states impose some form of legal duty on adults to take reasonable steps to deny access by children to dangerous substances or instruments. It is the individual gun owner's responsibility to understand and follow all laws regarding gun purchase, ownership, storage, transport, etc. Contact your state police and/or local police for information regarding such laws.
If you own a gun and do not know how to operate it, do not experiment with it. Point it in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger, and store it securely. Seek competent assistance and instruction at once. An untrained adult can be as dangerous as a curious child.
Store guns so that they are inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users. Gun shops sell a wide variety of safes, cases, and other security devices. While specific security measures may vary, a parent must, in every case, assess the exposure of the firearm and absolutely assure that it is inaccessible to a child.
For more information on firearm safety and youths, call (703) 267-1560, or write: NRA Community Service Programs Division, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.
This brochure is not intended as a complete course in gun safety and is not a substitute for formal, qualified instruction in the handling, use, or storage of firearms. The guidelines herein should be considered options to minimize the chance of an accident occurring in the home.
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