As part of its campaign to focus attention on the importance of safe and responsible firearm handling and storage, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced its Top Ten list of safety tips. Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with the list. Specifically, I’ve got nits to pick. Starting with “Always keep the firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction.” According to the gun industry lobby group, a ‘safe direction’ means that the “gun is pointed so that even if an accidental discharge occurred, it would not result in injury.” The problem here . . .
Sometimes there isn’t a safe direction. No matter where you point your gat someone could be downrange of the muzzle. For example . . .
I’m currently living on the top floor of an apartment building. Down is out. Up is out (what goes up must come down). I’m surrounded by other apartment buildings and office space; sideways ain’t safe. So I can only point the gun in the safest direction.
When it comes to the muzzle pointing rule, the safest option is to remember that bullets travel a long, long way. No direction is perfectly safe.
Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use. Whenever you pick up a gun, such as when removing it from or returning it to storage, remember to point it in a safe direction and make sure it is unloaded.
C’mon. While gun control advocates would have all guns unloaded whenever they’re not under the owner’s direct control (as per Massachusetts law), we all know that gun owners aren’t going to store their [primary] self-defense shotgun, pistol or rifle unloaded. Other than their desire to follow the letter of all applicable gun laws, why would you?
The NSSF is big into this unload your stored guns message. The first question of the Project ChildSafe website quiz stresses the rule.
I understand the NSSF’s desire not to rile the horses. But a realistic view of firearms safety is more effective than PC lip service. It’s better to train your kids about gun safety than it is to believe that storing your guns in an unloaded condition, with the ammo locked-up separately, is a failsafe protection against a negligent discharge.
Store your firearms in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case when not in use, ensuring they are in a location inaccessible by children and cannot be handled by anyone without your permission.
Nope. Kids are clever. You can never ensure that your children—and don’t forget that we’re also talking about teens—won’t access your firearms. You can only ensure that you train your children about gun safety. And then keep training them.
To be fair, the NSSF tips offers this self-same “teach your children well” tip not once but twice. “Make sure young people in your home are aware of and understand the safety guidelines concerning firearms” and “Educate everyone in your family about firearms safety.”
Even so, perpetuating the myth of the impregnable gun safe does new gun owners and their kids no favors.