When it comes to not shooting something you don’t want to shoot, The Four Rules of Gun Safety are your friends. Master them, observe them religiously, and no one gets hurt. At least not by a negligent discharge. Ah, but there are rules for following the rules! Here are my top three . . .
1. Follow a proper handgun clearance procedure
Some handguns have a magazine disconnect: the pistol won’t fire without a magazine on board. Some, like our old friend GLOCK, will.
You know the rule “treat all firearms as if they’re loaded”? Well, never assume that a handgun without a magazine is unloaded.
To unload a handgun properly, remove the magazine first, then lock the slide back and visually inspect the chamber. (Some people recommend checking it with your finger as well.)
If you’re going to reinsert an empty magazine (to dry fire, store an empty gun or whatever), leave the action open.
Before inserting/re-inserting a magazine into a handgun make sure it’s empty!
I know a professional gun guy who touched off a .22 in his kitchen, burying a round in the hardwood floor, because he reinserted the wrong magazine.
Insert the magazine and check the chamber again. Then close the action.
2. PAY ATTENTION!
You know The Four Rules of Gun Safety. Of course you do. You know them so well you don’t have to think about them. Following has become automatic. There’s your trouble.
The more stimuli in your gun handling environment — the greater the number of guns, people, dogs, etc. — the greater the danger that you’ll lose track of what you’re doing.
You don’t necessarily need a sterilized environment to handle a gun, but you must pay attention to what you’re doing, to the complete and total exclusion of everything else.
By the same token, if you’re doing two or three things at once, like, say, eating while you handle, or dealing with child care, bad things can happen.
Slow down! The gentleman above may have avoided his negligent discharge if he’d slowed down and paid attention to what he was doing. Don’t be that guy.
3. Trust no one!
Again, you can file this one under “treat all guns as if they’re loaded.” But it’s worth emphasizing: people can f*ck you up, ballistically speaking. In all sorts of ways.
They’ll tell you a loaded gun is unloaded. They’ll “return” a loaded magazine when you handed them an empty one. They’ll hand you a different gun than the one you handed them (maybe even the same model).
They’ll load your gun when you’re not looking. They’ll distract you. They’ll tell you to dry fire a loaded gun. They’ll “dry fire” a loaded gun.
Yes, there is that. Not only are you responsible for your safe gun handling, you’re responsible for everyone else’s gun handling. After all, someone else’s negligent discharge can kill you just as dead as your own.
Gun safety is no accident. Make sure your environment — mental and physical — is conducive to safe gun handling. If it isn’t, don’t.