The Four Rules of Gun Safety

October 29, 2009

Featured, Personal/Family Safety

Firearm SafetyAs we all know firearms have the potential to be deadly. One mistake could cause serious injury or death. So it’s important to take them seriously and understand the basic safety rules.

First, know that guns do NOT just go off. They are inanimate objects and need to be acted upon in order to be fired. There are four simple universal firearm safety rules that everyone must know when handling firearms. The wording may vary, but the message is consistently loud and clear. These rules are attributed to Jeff Cooper, who was a Marine in World War 2 and the Korean War.

1. The gun is always loaded. You always treat your gun as if it is loaded.

2. Never point the barrel of your gun at anything that you are NOT willing to destroy.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger UNTIL you have your sights on target and have made the decision to fire your weapon.

4. Identify your target and what is beyond your target. Remember that even if you hit your target the bullet may go through the target and hit something beyond that. You may also miss–so know what is behind your target and identify what you are shooting.

If you follow these rules exactly there is hardly an accident possible when dealing with firearms. Typically you have to break two or more of these rules for someone to get hurt.

There are a few errors commonly made–one of the most common mistakes when people are new to dealing with firearms is to put their finger directly on the trigger when they are just holding the gun. It is natural for someone to want to do this, but it’s a source for disaster if you jerk your finger or trip/stumble at the wrong time. Another common mistake is for people not to assume the gun is always loaded. Often the opposite occurs when people assume that the gun is NOT loaded. This is the source of accidental shootings when people didn’t think that the gun was loaded and was just playing around with it. Bottom line is that guns are not toys and they CAN NOT be treated as such. Follow these rules and be safe.


Rob is the Founder, Editor, and writer for You Can Carry. He became interested in concealed carry, self-defense, and emergency/personal preparation as he got married and had his first kid. His new-found desire to protect his family and keep them safe led him to getting a concealed firearm permit from the state of Utah, which began an increasing love for firearms and concealed carry. He is a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and a Utah Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor. Connect with Rob on Google+

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8 Responses to “The Four Rules of Gun Safety”

  1. Jim Says:

    I love this. If people followed even 3/4 we’d all be safe no matter what.

  2. Jeffrey Says:

    It is a shame that this information is not Tought at every public school in America. If child saftey was the #1 intention of all anti gun nuts, Then this would be a PRIORITY.. actions speek louder than words…… Thier alterior motives have nothing to do with saftey. Thanks for posting this info.

  3. Aldo Says:

    These rules apply to everyone…except the police.
    Oddly enough they are trained to violate every one of them, at least here in L. A.

    Too bad to.

  4. Dwayne Says:

    All responsible gun owners teach these rules. Even my 9 and 6 yr old can repeat the rules with the help of the acronym TANK.

    T reat every gun as if it ‘s loaded
    A im at only what you intend to kill
    N ever put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot
    K now your target and what’s behind it

    After all what kid doesn’t love a tank?

  5. Ronnie Watson Says:

    I’m trying to find the four gun rules in a sticker form to pass out for my students to take home and locate it to where it can be seen by everybody in the house. I teach Hunter Safety Firearms courses for N.Y. I would like it to be tittle ” Can You Pass The TEST”


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