You should never handle a gun unless you know how it operates.
- Assume that every gun is loaded. Whether you’re walking up to a gun that’s lying on the street or you’re at a gun store and the clerk has just inspected a gun in front of you, you should assume that the gun IS loaded and check for yourself. Always do your own inspection of any gun to ensure it’s not loaded. Don’t trust others to do this for you.
- Keep your finger OFF of the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Never place your finger on the trigger (or within the trigger guard) until you are aiming and ready to take a shot. When holding a gun, loaded or not, your index finger should remain extended and rest against the outside of the barrel. The rest of your hand should be securely holding the grip.
- Don’t point the gun at anything or anyone that you’re not willing to destroy. Regardless of whether the gun you’re holding is loaded or unloaded and whether your finger is on or off the trigger, you should never point a gun at anything that you don’t want to shoot. Keep the gun pointed at the floor, down range in a firing range and/or away from any other people, animals or objects around you that you’re not OK with shooting.
- Realize that a gun is a tool. Guns are designed to be used intentionally and deliberately; it’s rare that, if you follow these simple gun handling principles, you’ll accidentally shoot anything or anyone, or that the gun will go off by itself. It takes a surprising amount of pressure to pull the trigger of a handgun and it’s unlikely that you’d inadvertently fire a gun.
The best way to ensure that you’re confident and comfortable around guns is to take a course, or have an experienced friend teach you the basics of handling and shooting guns. Then you’ll have the knowledge and the skills to deal with any situation where a gun is present.
- Do not handle a gun if you suspect it’s involved in a crime. If you encounter a gun in a suspicious location and you think that it may be involved in a crime, you should not move or touch the gun. Immediately call the police to report the firearm and follow their instructions.
You don’t want your fingerprints on the weapon and you should never disturb a crime scene, but if you must move the gun to keep it away from children or move it to a safer location, follow the safe gun handling instructions outlined above and do your best not to disturb or contaminate any evidence on the gun.
Always call the police FIRST and follow their instructions if you find or encounter a gun.