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The most important element is the knowledge and understanding of gun safety rules and procedures. Respect for firearms is absolutely necessary to insure safety. There are many good rules for gun safety and we will discuss many today, but first we'll start out with the building blocks of gun safety, and we will focus first on the four basic rules of gun safety at the MRA.MRA Safety Rules
Also be careful to not "flash" the muzzle of a gun past anyone or anything that you do not want to destroy, even for an instant. When changing position try to point the muzzle towards the floor ceiling or another area where you are sure no one or property might be damaged. Always be mindful, that many times you can be in a two story building with folks "upstairs or downstairs". Also many times bullets easily travel through walls and into other dwellings. Even your own hand or any other body part should never be positioned in front of the muzzle (end of the barrel), even when the gun is confirmed empty.
Never Point a Firearm at Anything You Don't Want to Destroy
Even when a firearm is confirmed empty, at no time should any gun be pointed toward any person or area where people might be. Most accidents happen when folks are certain and say, that they were "sure the firearm was unloaded". Never assume, or believe it until you have checked it yourself and "saw the empty gun", with your "own two eyes".
When storing guns, cleaning guns, or just general handling, always be conducted without ammo being present. Keep your ammo under lock and key and always dry, cool, and secure. Always store ammo away from guns.
The index finger should never be placed on the Trigger until the site is on the target and you are ready to fire. Keep your finger parallel and to the side of the barrel of the gun and off the trigger until ready to fire. Many have the tendency to put their finger on the trigger when they draw from a holster or pick up a gun. Accidents happen and people many times, shoot themselves when they pull the trigger as they take their gun from the holster. Don't do it. Always, Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to fire.
Check and Double Check (Action, Open, Empty, and Safe)
True gun enthusiasts that handle guns on a regular basis consider that all guns they are presented are loaded and start out their "picking up any firearm" with a check to be sure the gun is unloaded. Not only should a person receiving a gun at any time from another check to be sure the firearm is not loaded, it is the responsible of the person passing off the firearm to open up the chamber and demonstrate "to all" that the gun is in fact open, empty, and safe.
Remember: When handling guns between different people, always open the action and pass the firearm to others with the action open, empty, and clearly safe with no ammo present.
If you keep a gun loaded for personal safety be sure it is secure, and locked, in a place where unauthorized people cannot access it when not on your person and under your total control.
Whenever shooting any firearm, know exactly what you are aiming at, and what may be behind your intended target. Bullets can travel 1000's of yards and through many different substances, including walls, roofs, and floors, putting animals, property, other people in peril. Know exactly where you're aiming and what potentially could be injured beyond your target. If you are not exactly sure "what is beyond" don't fire.