Basic, Advanced & Custom Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle Classes

Rules of Gun Safety


Gun safety.

Every organization or club seems to have their versions of safe gun handling rules.  One club I visited had a list of over 50 (yes, fifty) rules they expected you to remember.  Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules below are simple, complete, and broad ranging.

Jeff Cooper is credited with codifying these four rules.  He was a former Marine that is also credited with modernizing pistol training.  His approach seemed to be that a pistol is a weapon that is used for defense of good people.

1. All guns are always loaded.
—Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
—See rule #1
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
—Keep your finger along the frame of the firearm above the trigger guard.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.
—Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

The vast majority of the firearms “accidents” that happen can be attributed to violating at least one of these rules.  Many people try and blame the pistol.  It just went off!  No, it did not.  It’s a machine that’s only capable of doing what it was designed to do.  It doesn’t “just go off” all by itself.  Good quality pistols do not fire when dropped either.  They have safety features built in that prevent that.  Or they blame the holster, or anything else they can try and use as an excuse and passes personal responsibility.  The reality is that there are very few times where the person operating that firearm isn’t directly responsible for having that “accidental discharge.”

Sadly, the media is quick to bring attention to the relatively few irresponsible incidents of use.  For every negative example of a firearm being used there are literally thousands (or more) of times where guns are used in a safe manner – in a defensive capacity or recreational use (e.g. hunting, shooting range, trap and skeet, etc.).

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