1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
If you see a firearm or pick up a firearm, always treat it as if it is loaded. If you remove the ammunition, check the chamber and you are certain that it is unloaded, still treat it as if it is loaded. If you go to a gun show or a gun shop and are looking at a firearm that is given to you by the clerk, make sure there isn’t any ammunition in the weapon and visually and physically check the chamber. If you don’t know how, ask.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
Note: Just in case you might not know what the muzzle is, it is the front of the weapon where the bullet comes out.
This is a big one. I remember one time I was at work, and I received a call along with several other officers to a house reference a subject with a gun. There was some yelling and screaming from the neighbors at the houses and in the end we had to take a Yugoslavian SKS Rifle out of the house for safekeeping. The officer that secured the weapon, took it to the rear of his cruiser and I went over to see if I could help. After removing the magazine and clearing the chamber, he then began swinging the muzzle around and swept it past me. I grabbed the side of the barrel and told him to be careful. He said the gun was empty in an attempt to reassure me. I told him that I was “allergic to muzzles” and asked him to point it away from me. Don’t ever assume that anyone with some perceived knowledge about firearms from Law Enforcement or military backgrounds will know how to be careful. You have to protect yourself at all times.
3. Be absolutely certain of your target and what’s behind it.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to use deadly force, there is more to it than just having the justification to shoot. You must also be able to justify where and why each of your spent rounds were fired. Even if you have the justification to use deadly force, but the background behind the threat or your target isn’t clear, meaning, someone else could be in the line of fire, you bring yourself into a liability situation that may be impossible to get out of and would prove to be extremely costly, literally and figuratively.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to shoot.
This sounds simple, but if it was always followed, it would prevent a lot of accidental shootings. There has been extensive studies done that if a person is startled, one of the involuntary things that their hands will do is to clench up into a fist. If your finger is on the trigger of a firearm and you are startled enough, BANG. Keep your finger on the outside of the trigger guard, well away from the trigger. You wouldn’t want to stumble and have your finger slide onto the trigger. The next time you watch a television show or movie and see someone holding a firearm, check and see if you see them rest their finger outside of the trigger guard while they are standing or walking around. This will give you some indication if the actor received any training in the use of firearms.

Always Remember…you don’t have permission to quit.

Jeffrey Washington

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