One of the goals the RKBA group has (albeit, not one stated in the boilerplate) is to increase participation in the shooting sports. Plinking away with a .22 at the range, shooting skeet at a local sportsmen's club, or shooting competitively in IDPA are just a few ways American citizens can enjoy firearms. We've had members of the RKBA group offer to bring fellow Kossacks to the range for a safe introduction to firearms. I don't know how many Kossacks have taken any of us up on that, but the offer is out there.
Be that as it may, the basic rules of firearm safety are simple, easy to follow, and should be common knowledge for anyone who could possibly come into contact with one.
Follow me over the jump for some basic firearm safety.
RKBA is a DKos group of second amendment supporters who also have progressive and liberal values. We don't think that being a liberal means one has to be anti-gun. Some of us are extreme in our second amendment views (no licensing, no restrictions on small arms) and some of us are more moderate (licensing, restrictions on small arms.) Moderate or extreme, we hold one common belief: more gun control equals lost elections. We don't want a repeat of 1994. We are an inclusive group: if you see the Second Amendment as safeguarding our right to keep and bear arms individually, then come join us in our conversation. If you are against the right to keep and bear arms, come join our conversation. We look forward to seeing you, as long as you engage in a civil discussion. RKBA stands for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
First, the three rules. These are pretty basic, but you have to screw up at least TWO of them in order to have an 'accident' (which isn't really an accident, but we'll get to that later.) ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until you're ready to shoot.
So let's go over why you need to screw up at LEAST two of these in order to have an issue. The firearm is pointed in a safe direction, but you don't follow the other two rules. You just bumped the trigger on a loaded firearm and the gun went off. Since it was pointed in a safe direction, there was no damage done. You have the firearm unloaded and don't have it pointed in a safe direction while you pull the trigger. Since the firearm is unloaded, there is no discharge. (As a side note, ALL firearms should be treated as if they are loaded even when you know they're not.) There is one instance where you can screw up 2 rules and have an issue. If the firearm is pointed in an unsafe direction, is loaded, and there is a mechanical failure, the firearm can go off without you touching the trigger.
Moral of the story: OBEY THE THREE RULES OF GUN SAFETY WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
What are the other basics of firearm safety? I have a few rules of thumb that I've picked up over the years.
Don't point your firearm at anything you're not willing to destroy. This goes back to 'ALWAYS keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.'
Double check what you're putting in your firearm. The example that I remember from hunter safety (way back in the day: over a decade ago...) was when they pulled out a 12 gauge shotgun that someone had accidentally put a 20 gauge shell in. They racked the slide, chambered the 20 gauge shell and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. So they racked the slide again. The 20 gauge shell slid down the barrel and became stuck. The 12 gauge shell slid into the chamber and when the trigger was pulled, the 20 gauge shell was obstructing the barrel. kaBoom Shotgun destroyed.
Keep your firearms clean. Dirty firearms can lead to jams, kaBooms, and other issues. Before you clean the firearm, make sure it is unloaded. The action should be left open when cleaning.
When shooting, wear ear/eye protection and proper clothing. Guns are loud and can cause hearing damage in short order. Shells can bounce around and into your eye. Also, appropriate clothing is necessary. This last weekend, I brought a coworker shooting. In a rather freak occurrence, an ejected shell bounced off the roof support and into the front of her shirt. She was wearing a high collared shirt but the way she was sitting meant that her shirt collar gaped open a little bit and she ended up with a hot .22 shell in her bra. The hot brass dance is not something anyone enjoys doing. So please, wear clothing that protects all sensitive areas (no sandals!)
Don't operate a firearm under the influence of any mind altering drug. I don't care if it's RX, illegal, booze, whatever. If you know it screws with your mind, go put the firearm away.
RTFM. Read the f*cking manual. It's a gun. It can be dangerous. Don't assume you know how to use it properly. Firearms can generally be classified as having some basic attributes that are the same and then categorized (revolver, over/under shotgun, EBR, etc) but they each have their own quirks. Anyone who's ever tried to strip and reassemble a Ruger Mark III/45 will know exactly what I'm talking about.
What's behind your target? Is it safe to shoot that target? Why don't you go check (and make sure the range is safe when you do)? I set up my own targets, make sure there is a backstop, and the whole area is clear/safe before I start shooting.
Listen to the Range Safety Officer (RSO) at all times. There's a reason he's there. He can see things you can't. If he tells you to put the gun down after unloading it, listen. He's not doing it to be a dick. If he (or anyone else, for that matter) yells CEASE FIRE, stop shooting and repeat CEASE FIRE until all firing has stopped. This helps get the message across to the other shooters.
There are more rules that I can get into but I've covered the three basic rules and some of the range rules. Questions or comments? I'll see you all down thread.