Top Gun Safety Rules Every Gun Owner Should Know About

Gun Safety Rules

You’ve purchased a gun and now it’s your responsibility to ensure that you keep it safe as well as prevent yourself and anyone else from getting hurt.

While you might think that you know what you’re doing when you take your gun on a hunting expedition or to the shooting range, it’s essential to remember some important gun safety rules.

What are the four rules of gun safety?

These rules include being careful with the gun muzzle, treating the firearm with respect, being sure of what your target is and where it is, and keeping your finger off the trigger until the last second.

With that in mind, let’s explore these rules of gun safety in greater detail. Then we’ll move on and explore other important information you need to know about keeping your gun safe. 

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Gun Safety Rules

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The 4 Rules Of Gun Safety

The four main rules of gun safety are pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t diminish how important they are to follow at all times.

Rule #1: Keep An Eye On The Muzzle

The gun’s muzzle should always be pointed in a safe direction. It should never be accidentally or intentionally pointed towards a person or animal.

You might’ve heard those horror stories of gun owners aiming firearms at their feet or legs and accidentally firing… ouch. If not, you certainly know what they say in gun-owner circles: never point your gun at anything you don’t wish to destroy. Take that seriously because accidents can happen. 

Rule #2: Respect Your Firearm As If It Were Loaded

treat the firearm as if it were loaded

The thing is, accidents can easily happen in the blink of an eye. You might think that you’d unloaded your gun, only to discover – quite tragically – that it was loaded.

This is why you have to treat your firearm carefully and with respect. Basically, treat the firearm as if it were loaded, even if you’re 99.9 percent sure that it’s not.

Rule #3: Know Your Target

You should always make sure that you know what your target is, but also what is in front and behind it. When hunting game, for example, make sure that you know the identifying features of the animal you want to hunt.

The backdrop to what you’re shooting should not be water or a flat and hard surface as the bullet could ricochet off them.

Rule #4: Watch Your Finger!

Always make sure that you keep your finger off the trigger until the very second when you’re ready to shoot. This prevents the gun from accidentally firing.

When preparing to shoot your gun, ensure that you rest your finger on the trigger to prevent any accidental firing from occurring and to focus your attention on what you’re doing. Any other time, keep your hands off the trigger!

On a pistol, you’ll usually find a spot above the trigger that is known as an index point, and it enables you to rest your finger. If you own a rifle or shotgun, it’s safer to keep your entire hand away from the trigger area.

While the four above tips are general and basic, they are important while also paving the way for even more gun safety rules to bear in mind. Here are some other golden rules of gun safety that you should always remember, whether you own a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or other type of gun. 

Tips For Greater Shotgun Safety 

safety tips for shotgun

Maintaining safety when handling a shotgun is a little different from handguns because of its size.

Here are some important tips to follow.

1. You should carry your shotgun in a slip. Since they’re larger in weight and length, shotguns will need to be carried in a slip. This is basically a portable case specially made for these types of guns. To prevent your gun from falling out of its slip, ensure that its barrels are kept down and its stock is up when the slip is carried over your shoulder. 

2. When you carry your shotgun without a slip, make sure that it’s broken, unloaded, and over the crook of your arm. This is much safer than putting it over your shoulder.

3. You should also carry the gun with its breech open, as this will help you to ensure that there’s no shell in the gun that can be fired by accident. 

Tips For Greater Handgun Safety

If you own a small, compact gun, you’ll have to ensure you treat it responsibly in the same way that you’d treat a rifle or shotgun.

A handgun might seem very convenient, but it doesn’t mean you can become slack when handling or carrying it. This is especially the case with pocket pistols. Just because they can be stored in your pocket, it doesn’t mean you should forget that they’re there.

With that in mind, here are some important handgun safety tips.

1. Always keep your handgun in a holster. You might think you can merely carry your pistol in your pocket, but that’s not safe enough. You need to ensure it’s placed in a holster. The benefit of this is that it will make retrieving the gun much easier. 

2. You should also use a holster if you’re carrying your pistol or revolver on your belt. 

3. When checking your revolver to ensure its chambers are free, turn the cylinder. Check this from the back of the cylinder, never by looking down the chambers with the end of the barrel facing you.

Tips For Greater Rifle Safety

rifle safety tips

If you own a rifle, you should pay attention to handling your rifle properly and responsibly. Here are some important tips.

1. When bagging or unbagging your rifle, ensure it’s unloaded and in a safe position. This means you should keep a bolt-action or lever-action rifle in such a way that its action is open. For example, on a bolt-action shotgun, the bolt should be moved back. Doing this shows people that the gun’s unloaded and has an empty chamber. Pull magazines out of your rifles if they’re magazine-fed.

2. Always engage the rifle’s safety when you’re not ready to shoot. This is a tip you should always ensure no matter what kind of gun you have.

3. Use a chamber flag. This can also be used to remind you that the rifle’s chamber is empty. Some gun ranges will require you to use these, so it’s worth investing in one. How a chamber flag works is that it gets inserted into the gun’s chamber and it has a bright color that is easily noticeable on the gun. Chamber flags also make it easier to travel as they ensure that your gun is unloaded and therefore doesn’t pose a threat to other people. 

Do Gun Accessories Make Guns Safe? 


Accessories such as a chamber flag can help you to increase your safety by reminding you that the gun’s in a safe mode.

But what about other accessories? Can they help you to keep your gun safe? Here’s a rundown of some of the best gun accessories to achieve more gun security.

  • Weapon trigger locks. These essentially protect your guns against access by people or children who you don’t want using your gun, so they’re a valuable item to buy. 
  • Holsters. You should always ensure that you use a quality holster. Earlier, we talked about how important it is to ensure your gun is always holstered, such as if you’re carrying it in your pocket. Not just any old holster will do, though. If you buy a cheaply-made holster it won’t be durable and it won’t be able to give your gun the support it needs, therefore compromising its safety. The holster you buy needs to be appropriate for the model, caliber, and make of your gun. If you use a holster that doesn’t fit properly, you could accidentally fire the gun when you try to take it out of its holster. This is why it’s worth finding a well-made holster that will be able to accommodate your specific gun in order to be safe.
  • Earbuds and protective eyewear. Part of gun safety is also protecting your health, so invest in quality earbuds that will block out the noise of gunshots that can damage your hearing over time and make sure you protect your eyes with quality eyewear. 
  • Cleaning supplies. You need to clean your gun regularly. This is an important part of gun maintenance that will increase the lifespan of your firearm while also ensuring it works at its best, therefore preventing potentially dangerous situations, such as a gun not working when you want it to or exploding. To properly clean your gun, you’ll have to make use of specific tools and products, such as solvents and bore cleaners. You can find out more about how to clean your guns and the best products to use by reading our article, “How To Clean A Gun.” To purchase a convenient cleaning kit, read our other article, “Best Gun Cleaning Kit – Keep Your Gun Ready For Action.”  

Extra Tips For General Gun Safety

child looking at a gun

As we’ve seen from the previous sections, many gun rules apply to more than one type of gun.

Here are some extra, general tips to bear in mind when you’re handling guns.

1. Don’t rely solely on your gun’s safety. While ensuring the gun’s safety is on is always a good thing, you should never blindly trust that it’s on or that it will work in the way that it should. The gun’s safety is a mechanism that can fail you, just like any other mechanical device.

In addition, you might think the safety of the gun is on when it’s actually not, which could put you in a dangerous situation. This links to the earlier point we made about not touching the gun’s trigger unless you are ready and prepared to shoot the gun.

2. Don’t use the wrong ammo. If you try to use ammunition that’s not compatible with your type of gun and its model, you can cause serious injury to yourself, others who are in the vicinity, and to your gun.

Sometimes ammo can be misleading because you might think that since a certain kind of ammo can fit into your gun’s magazine this means it’s safe to use. An example is how a .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge can load into a .4 ACP magazine, but it’s not safe to combine these two. This is because the smaller round will make the incompatible casing blow out of the gun!

3. Make sure you properly maintain your firearm. This will not only extend its lifespan but prevent it from becoming dangerous. By cleaning your gun regularly, as we mentioned earlier, you can remove carbon deposits and other debris that can interfere with the gun’s operation. How you store your gun is also an important part of maintaining your gun.   

Tips on how to properly and safely store your gun:

  • Make sure you have a locking steel gun cabinet. Since they’re made of steel and can be locked, these cabinets provide protection against children or inexperienced shooters gaining access to your gun.
  • Invest in a gun safe. This is the best way to store your gun, not just because the safe will keep it out of unwanted people’s hands, such as thieves, but these products are also usually fitted with lined interiors and racks so you can keep your guns in mint condition, such as when it comes to preventing abrasions on the guns’ finishes. 
  • When storing your gun in your car, invest in a small safe. This is the best way to keep your gun safe and out of reach of people. For increased security, keep your gun in its holster so it will be easier to pull out of the safe and put back on your belt or in your pocket.
  • When storing your guns at home, never use the guns’ original packaging and boxes. This is because these cases usually contain foam that can retain moisture. This is bad for your guns as it can cause them to rust. 

4. Teach your family about your guns. If you bring a gun into your household, it’s essential to not only inform everyone in the household about its presence but also teach your kids about it so that they can be safe around it. You need to teach your kids that guns are not toys and show them how to ensure gun safety, such as by checking that the gun’s safety mechanism is on.

By introducing your kids to your guns and teaching them about gun safety, this reduces the risk of your children finding your guns spontaneously and putting themselves at risk because they are curious about the gun and don’t realize its danger. With that in mind, let’s move onto the question of whether you need to get first-aid training.

Should You Take First-Aid Training As A Gun Owner? 

Gun owners first aid training

If you’re a gun owner, you might wonder if first-aid training is worth having.

After all, accidents can happen, even if you’re usually responsible with your guns. It’s good to know that by getting training, if the worst-case scenario does happen to you you’ll be able to do something to help the situation.

There are a ton of injuries that can happen when you’re around firearms. While you might think of accidental firing that could hurt you or others, and this is the most obvious accident that usually comes to mind, there are other things to consider.

What if you’re assembling or disassembling your gun and small metal springs come flying out at you or strike your eye? What if you’re out hunting when you grab your hot gun barrel, forgetting that it’s hot, and you end up with a nasty burn?

First-aid training can prepare you for potential dangers by equipping you with certain skills. During a first-aid training course, you’ll learn invaluable things that will also benefit you in the rest of your life, such as CPR, how to recognize emergencies, how to control bleeding, how to treat burns, how to prevent heat stroke, and much more. This will ensure you can feel more confident, especially if you’re a beginner who’s never handled a firearm before.

Besides having first-aid training so that you’re better prepared for anything that can happen, you should also invest in a quality medical kit. This should always be in your bag when you take your gun to the shooting range for target practice or when you head out into the bush to hunt.

You might think a medical kit is overkill, but it’s not. Bear in mind that there are other things that can happen during a shooting session that have nothing to do with guns and ammo – think bee stings, allergic reactions, as well as trips and falls when you’re outdoors.

Therefore, cover all your bases by having a medical kit that contains useful items, such as bandages, plasters, scissors, tweezers, ice packs, antiseptic wipes, burn gel, and tourniquets. 

Don’t Forget About Gun Laws!

don’t break laws

Part of gun safety is remaining on the right side of the law.

These rules are in place for reasons of safety, so it’s important for you to ensure that you don’t break them. Gun laws will vary from one U.S. state to the next, which can sometimes make them feel confusing.

This is why it’s important to know the type of gun you want to buy and then do your research to find out if it’s legal and how restricted it is where you live. As a gun owner, you will also need to know other important rules related to guns, such as:

1. Can you open carry your weapon in your state? Some states require you to have a permit for how you carry your gun, while others don’t.

2. Will you need to undergo background checks? When purchasing your gun, you might have to be given a background check beforehand. Some states enforce this, while others have more relaxed rules and don’t require it. 

3. What are the magazine restrictions in your state? It’s not just some types of guns, such as assault rifles, that can be restricted in some areas of the country – your magazines can also be. Some U.S. states have restrictions pertaining to magazine capacity. For example, states such as Maryland require you to limit your magazine to 10 rounds.

Knowing about the gun rules and regulations in your state or city is one of the most important ways to stay safe as a gun owner. Not only will you stay on the right side of the law, but you’ll be responsible. 

Related Questions 

Can a revolver fire when it falls on the ground?

While this can happen, it’s rare. Many revolvers will have transfer bars or hammer blocks in their design to prevent dropfiring from occurring.  

Can a dirty gun explode?

One of the dangers of not cleaning your gun is that it could explode. This can happen as a result of the gun being dirty, rusty, or corroded, which causes the used cartridge not to get released. When a live round is pushed into the cartridge, this can cause the gun to explode.


Buying a gun might feel fun and exciting, but it requires you to treat the gun with respect and be responsible whenever you carry and use it. You need to ensure you follow important gun safety rules, such as those we’ve outlined in this article.

When you think about gun safety, you might think about the most obvious rules, such as ensuring you don’t touch the trigger before shooting and always putting your gun in a holster. But what about knowing first-aid and knowing about gun laws in your state?

After reading this article, you now know how to keep your gun safe so you can increase its lifespan and prevent accidents from happening.