Firearm ownership and gun safety go hand in hand. Discover how your license affects your life over the long term.
The process of purchasing a firearm is relatively simple for anyone who meets their state’s qualification standards, with memorizing basic weapon maintenance often being viewed as the hardest – and for some, the only – requirement for responsible ownership.
In reality, the journey of being a firearm owner has only just begun. The right to bear arms is a freedom given in exchange for a lifetime commitment to safety, self-awareness, and social responsibility. Let’s take a look at all the ways weapon ownership can (and should) change how you look at yourself and the world.
A permanent dedication to ongoing education
Successful gun ownership takes more than ticking a list of safety tips. Owning a firearm in any capacity requires training and a long-term attitude adjustment, no matter how simple the “point and click” nature of a gun may seem.
Some gun owners shoot purely for fun, others for food, some in the defense of people and property. Whatever your motivation, receiving regular training and education over the course of your life will increase your personal safety, situational awareness, and sense of accountability. Following firearm safety rules starts with knowing how they apply to each of the main usage types.
Recreational and target shooting
You may have seen range shooters wearing what looks like sunglasses and headphones while firing their weapons. These are vital forms of eye and ear protection that provide shielding against the high volumes and physical/gaseous emissions that accompany gunfire. Range shooting should never be attempted without personal protective equipment (PPE).
Safe transport of a weapon to and from a range involves keeping it unloaded, locked, and out of sight (car gun safes are excellent for this purpose). Range limits can vary from site to site, however, there are core safety rules that typically look something like this:
- Directional limits: Firearms must always point in a safe direction, aka “muzzle awareness,” and firing lines are limited to the designated target.
- Physical limits: Fingers should never be on a trigger until ready to shoot. Safety equipment should always be worn, and rules about positioning at the firing line or movement around the range should be strictly observed.
- Firearm and magazine limits: Guns should be unloaded with magazines removed and actions opened while entering/exiting the range and until the firing line is reached with the range declared clear and ready for fire. Some ammo types may be restricted.
Always ask a range instructor for clear safety guidelines if you’re attending a new range, and never assume familiar rules won’t be subject to ongoing updates and changes.
Hunting has common firearm safety requirements like muzzle awareness, trigger etiquette, and PPE. It also has activity-specific ones, like never climbing trees or ladders with a loaded weapon, clear identification of the target (and what is directly behind it), and avoiding wearing colors that blend into the surroundings or resemble those of fair game. High-visibility clothing is recommended, such as “hunter’s orange.”
Hunting safety is greatly aided by undertaking a hunter education course. These classes are available in person and online and are usually mandatory to even begin hunting with a firearm. Once gained, these qualifications make you a much safer hunter and firearm owner and are usually recognized at the national level.
Some classes charge a fee, while others are completely free. It’s every gun owner's responsibility to remain current on the hunting regulations in their state. Stay regularly informed via the FWS site.
Personal and home defense
Safely owning a firearm for personal or home defense starts with taking a firearms safety training course. These can be found through various providers, including law enforcement agencies, ranges, independent instructors, or gun-related organizations. The NRA offers many different options that span the ownership spectrum, and you can find one near you by using the training locator.
Firearms around the home should be secured in a lockbox/fast box to which only the firearm’s owner or a trusted party has access. A secured storage box kept out of sight prevents unwanted access by guests, family members, or even intruders who may use the gun against you. Home defense firearms should be stored safely but within easy access in case of emergency.
Further safety precautions can be taken, including purchasing a gun lock. These secure various parts of the weapon, like the trigger or internal chamber, effectively disabling it and preventing unwanted/unauthorized discharge.
The use of PPE is barely an option when using a firearm in defense of self or property due to the unpredictable nature of such circumstances. Muzzle awareness should always be observed, however, as should proper care and maintenance of the weapon.
The 4 core rules of firearm safety
Whatever guns you own, whether they’re for hunting, sporting, or home defense, responsible ownership is almost 100% the same. These four golden rules must always be followed:
- Treat every gun like it’s loaded
- Never aim at anything you don’t intend to shoot
- Never rest your finger on the trigger
- Be certain of the target and what’s beyond it
Always follow the manufacturer’s care and safety guidelines to the letter and speak to an experienced weapons dealer for advice. Whether you intend on hunting, shooting recreationally, or defending your home, following these four golden rules as well as the manufacturer's care guidelines will help you remain safe and keep your firearms in good working order.
Keep yourself armed and educated with Ammunition Depot
Successful firearm ownership and safety is a lifelong pursuit. Ammunition Depot is a family-owned and operated business offering a safe, educational, and convenient way to purchase firearms, accessories, and ammunition online. Our team is committed to supporting our customers on their learning journey to securely exercising their constitutional right to self-defense. Drop by our contact page to get in touch.