Treat all guns as if they are loaded. Always assume that a gun is loaded even if you think it is unloaded. Every time a gun is handled for any reason, check to see that it is unloaded. If you are unable to check a gun to see if it is unloaded, leave it alone and seek help from someone more knowledgeable about guns.
Keep the gun pointed in the safest possible direction. Always be aware of where a gun is pointing. A “safe direction” is one where an accidental discharge of the gun will not cause injury or damage. Only point a gun at an object you intend to shoot. Never point a gun toward yourself or another person.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Always keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. Even though it may be comfortable to rest your finger on the trigger, it also is unsafe. If you are moving around with your finger on the trigger and stumble or fall, you could inadvertently pull the trigger. Sudden loud noises or movements can result in an accidental discharge because there is a natural tendency to tighten the muscles when startled. The trigger is for firing and the handle is for handling.
Know your target, its surroundings and beyond. Check that the areas in front of and behind your target are safe before shooting. Be aware that if the bullet misses or completely passes through the target, it could strike a person or object. Identify the target and make sure it is what you intend to shoot. If you are in doubt, DON’T SHOOT! Never fire at a target that is only a movement, color, sound or unidentifiable shape. Be aware of all the people around you before you shoot.
Know how to properly operate your gun. It is important to become thoroughly familiar with your gun. You should know its mechanical characteristics including how to properly load, unload and clear a malfunction from your gun. Obviously, not all guns are mechanically the same. Never assume that what applies to one make or model is exactly applicable to another. You should direct questions regarding the operation of your gun to your firearms dealer, or contact the manufacturer directly.
Store your gun safely and securely to prevent unauthorized use. Guns and ammunition should be stored separately. When the gun is not in your hands, you must still think of safety. Use a firearms safety device on the gun, such as a trigger lock or cable lock, so it cannot be fired. Store it unloaded in a locked container, such as a lock box or a gun safe. Store your gun in a different location than the ammunition. For maximum safety you should use both a locking device and a storage container.