1 of every 3 homes with kids contains an unlocked, loaded gun. As a responsible firearm owner, doesn’t that statistic scare you?
It can feel difficult to address a problem so large when you’re just one person. The reality, though, is that change starts with just one person. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Let’s start here. Read up on these gun safety tips to make sure you’re following all the firearm safety rules necessary to lead a happy, healthy life as a firearm owner.
Educate Your Kids
Step 1 on the road to fun safety: educate your kids on basic gun safety rules. Don’t let the gun be a taboo item in the household that no one talks about. That’s a surefire way to spike your kids’ curiosity in it.
Don’t keep it a secret, either. Kids are curious. You never know when they’ll stumble across your secret hiding place for your firearm, and have no clue how to handle it safely.
And rest assured: if they stumble across it, they will pick it up.
Talk about how different real-life gun use is from gun violence they’re used to seeing in movies and video games. Make sure they know that the gun in the house can cause real damage, not staged, fake damage like in the media. Speak frankly about the subject, and try to remove the glamorized sheen that’s cast over gun violence in Hollywood blockbusters.
Make sure you educate them on what to do if they should come across the firearm at home, too. Outline simple steps of action that are easy to remember, like:
- See the gun
- Don’t touch the gun
- Immediately tell an adult where it is
Now, what if guns are a part of your family’s activities? Maybe you love to hit the shooting range together, or build your own gun with an 80 percent lower kit, or go hunting in the wild. If that’s the case, your kids are probably used to handling firearms.
Even so, educate your kids on the correct care and firearm safety to ensure they’re 100% confident in handling them. Not only do they need to know how to handle a firearm with care, but they also need to learn about things like the correct ammo to use. Should the firearm be using brass or steel ammo? You can find the differences here. Help them to build good habits that’ll last a lifetime. And don’t slack on it, either—your kids need to see you treating your firearms with 100% accountability and responsibility.
The rules of firearm safety don’t just include storage in the home; they also include what to do while shooting. Every firearm user could probably use a refresher here. Make sure your kids are 100% clear on these rules, too.
First of all, it might be a good idea to lay down rules for your kids that state that the only time they’re allowed to handle guns is under adult supervision at the shooting range. Make sure you clean your firearms within that environment so you can teach them the importance of cleaning the weapon well.
Regular cleaning is essential to keep your firearm in tip top shape. Without regular cleaning, your gun can acquire caked-on oil and dirt, which can affect the way it functions. Make sure it’s unloaded and the action’s open before you clean it.
At the Range
When it comes to shooting, teach your kids everything there is to know about the gun first. That includes its basic parts, opening and closing the action, and removing ammunition. Teach them how to use the safety on a gun, but remind them that their safe handling is the most important safety element.
As you load the gun to get shooting, make sure you only use the right ammunition. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many examples there are of people loading the wrong ammo into their gun. Take it from this fellow whose ammo exploded in his gun as he pulled the trigger.
To make sure you’re using the right ammunition, look for the name stamped onto the barrel. Match it up with the name of the ammo both on the box and on the cartridge. Double (and triple!) check before you hit the range.
Once you’re shooting, make sure you’ve clearly noticed everything beyond your target. You should also take note of the area in front of and around your target, too. Its this awareness that could prevent a potential tragedy due to shortsightedness.
Don’t forget your ear and eye protection, too. The bullets aren’t the only thing that can cause damage!
The noise of the gun firing can cause hearing damage, and guns can even sometimes emit hot gasses that could cause eye injury. Even spectators should be sure to wear both goggles and earmuffs.
Finally, skip the alcohol and drugs before you shoot. Sure, it may make things more lively during a day off at the range, but partaking in these substances before shooting can endanger both yourself and others. It’s not worth the risk.
Store for Safety
Let’s move on to how to store your firearm safely at home. You’re four times as likely to face a fatal, accidental gunshot injury if you live in a home with a gun. Proper, safe storage is essential for ensuring you don’t become a part of that statistic.
First of all, you should get a gun safe that locks to store your firearm in. There are tons of different styles, with locks ranging from key locks to combination locks.
If you opt for a key lock, make sure to place the key out of the reach of your kids. If you opt for a combination lock, make sure you don’t write the numbers down where anyone can see them!
Store the gun unloaded, too. It’s a good idea to separate the gun and the ammo.
You can even separate the gun and its parts for an added precaution. Think about it: an AR-15 is a lot less of a threat to a child without essential AR-15 parts that make it function.
When you do remove the gun from the safe, make sure you never leave it unattended. Keep it in your sight at all times; don’t leave the room for even a minute. As soon as you’re done using it, put it back in its safe promptly.
If you invite visitors over and they have a gun in their handbag, car, or backpack, offer them the use of your gun safe to keep their firearm stored properly while they’re in your home. While this may be socially awkward to bring up, remind them that your request isn’t a sign of mistrust. Instead, assure them it’s only to prevent an accidental firing of the firearm.
Finally, ask yourself if you even need to keep the gun in your home. Small handguns that you would use in a home defense situations are one thing, but do you need a range or sporting firearm at home?
Consider storing these types of firearms elsewhere to minimize the risk of an accident.
Should You Keep It at the House at All?
Even considering all the best weapon safety rules out there, it’s worth it to take a minute to consider whether or not you should keep the firearm in the house at all.
Do you have children or teenagers in the house who display depressive or aggressive tendencies? If so, it may be a good idea not to house your firearm anywhere they could even consider getting their hands on it.
The rate of firearm suicides in teens has risen by a whopping 61% in the last ten years. Regardless of whether or not you store your firearm properly, the reality is that having it in the house raises the risk for a teen suicide by gun.
It can be tough to spot symptoms of depression in a teen. How do you know if they’re going through hormonal changes versus actually struggling with clinical depression?
If you’re questioning your teen’s mental health, don’t be afraid to consult your family’s doctor. Ignore the stigma that surrounds mental health. Help your teen realize that mental health is important, and it’s okay to get help.
Add a Safety Device to the Gun Itself
Aside from safe shooting range practices and proper storage, you should consider adding a safety device to the gun itself as well. There are two main types of safety devices to choose from.
The first is a chamber lock. Chamber locks actually stop a round from actively loading into the chamber and thus prevent ammo from being fired. They’re often locked by a key, which you should keep in a super safe location away from the reach of your kids. Check with your local police department; they often offer chamber locks for free!
The second type of lock is a trigger lock. Trigger locks make it difficult to actually pull the trigger of the gun, which protects against accidental firings.
They range in style from simple fabric models to super techie models. Some even require a fingerprint to unlock it!
Firearm Safety Rules Keep You Alive and Well
Firearm safety rules aren’t optional; they’re a necessity. Now that you’ve brushed up on the basics, take a day to set yourself up for success as a firearm owner.
Talk to your kids and get the gear necessary to keep your firearm safe and secure. It’s the only way to lead a happy, healthy life with a firearm around!
For more tips on leading the best life you can, check out our other happiness articles!