A Simple Firearm Safety Rule Refresher

It’s officially summer. We imagine that all over the United States it means more people are out shooting their firearms with friends and family, for fun, in competitions, or hunting as well. No matter what you are doing with your firearm this summer though, we need to go over the basic rules of firearms safety.

So let’s review them, but in a non-boring way where we just read them like a zombie or like that guy who sings the words to a song in your car, but does not really know the words, just pretends to…you know that guy or girl! Moving on.


Easiest rule to follow ever. However, let’s review the statement anyway. If you walk into a gun store wanting to hold that new pistol or rifle you that you want to purchase, a salesperson will hand you said pistol or rifle from behind the counter. You know it is a professional gun store and there is no way a round could be in that chamber, right? So you just take it and dry fire it so you can feel that awesome new 3.5-pound trigger job without checking to ensure the firearm is clear—right? NO, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! If you said yes, you just failed Rule One. Your test is not going well, so start over with me. Read it slowly.



Are Always


ALL means every firearm on the planet; GUNS means every firearm on the planet; ARE ALWAYS means every firearm on the planet at any given time ever; LOADED means every firearm on the planet is loaded with a round in the chamber ready to fire! That seems to make it a bit clearer in case you failed the test of rule one the first time. Good job, now to the next rule.


As you read that, the word “destroy” should jump out at you immediately. If it doesn’t, think about it. The definition of the word destroy is:

  1. to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
  2. to put an end to; extinguish.
  3. to kill; slay.
  4. to render ineffective or useless; nullify; neutralize; invalidate.
  5. to defeat completely.

If you are handling a firearm of any kind, understand the meaning of the word “destroy,” and how it relates to firearms and the impact it can have on your own person or those within the maximum effective range of the firearm you are using. If I am in a gun store, on the range or at a gun show, any person that sweeps me with a muzzle of any firearm will instantly hear about it in a very loud manner. Feel free to do the same when you see a violation of Rule Two. It makes the person violating the rule aware, it makes others around the area aware, and it helps keep your own situational awareness up as well.


I am willing to bet any of us could load a round into the chamber of a pistol, leave the safety off, put the firearm on a table in a secure locked glass room, leave it there on display for 100 years, and as long as it sat there, it would NEVER fire. Why? Because if no person is allowed to touch the trigger with their phalanges, the loaded firearm is just as safe as any 500 or 1000-pound bomb in the U.S. military inventory sitting idle. You have to make the mechanics of that firearm operate with your own finger. However, the finger is managed from your brain-housing unit, also known as your head.

YOU are the one who controls your fine motor skills as well as the decision making process. Say to yourself, “Keep finger out of trigger guard, keep finger out of trigger guard, keep finger out of trigger guard, target; finger IN trigger guard, still thinking about all guns are always loaded, never let muzzle cover anything I am not willing to destroy, this is a cardboard target on a safe controlled shooting range environment, I have ear protection and eye protection on, there is nobody behind my target that I can injure, finger on trigger, smooth steady pull, BANG, YAY, fun!” Every round you fire should be like that. If it is, then you my friend are allowed to move to the next rule.


“Be sure” means you are leaving nothing to chance or happenstance. If you have a firearm, are out with some friends in the middle of the woods and want to fire it at a can on a tree branch for fun, do you know what is beyond that can? —say 100 yards, 200 yards, or 500 yards into those woods? Possibly a house, a summer camp of kids going on a nature hike, an endangered species, an angry bear? The truth is you do not know for sure–ever–even on a shooting range. I have been resetting steel targets on a 50-yard shooting range only to see someone look like they might be getting ready to fire, and that is a very uncomfortable feeling for anyone. Think of this fact: the maximum effective range for a 9mm is 1800 meters or over 2000 yards. So know what you have going on where you are shooting.

These rules have been around for a long time and several versions are out there from the military version to the Jeff Cooper version to the NRA version, and so on. In the end, they all want the same thing and that is our safety and the safety of those around us when using firearms. Remember to refresh your brain-housing unit with these rules every time you go shoot; then actually implement them while shooting. Do not be scared to correct someone you see performing an unsafe act, because it might not be their life you are saving it could be your life as well.

Thanks for reading, now go shoot!

—CTD Blogger

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (10)

  1. It has become second nature for me to check a firearm regardless if I am told it is unloaded, and I always check the safety as well.

  2. It’s second nature for me to check a firearm regardless if I am told it is unloaded, and I always check the safety as well.

  3. Mike A, holy crap, thanks for that correction. If my nine was effective to that distance, I would never need another weapon ever! I apologize for the misprint, and thanks for that correction again.


  4. Just to correct, the Maximum range of a 9mm is 1800 meters. Not Maximum effective. If the maximum effective range of a 9mm was 1800, you would see more 9mm sniper rifles. 2300 meters if shot at a 45 degree angle.

    I habitually clear my weapons whenever I handle them and I rarely notice that I do it anymore. Whether I’m picking up my carry piece for the day or checking out a new one at a store its always cleared before I do anything else. To me, clearing it is just another way of going through the functionality. When you pull the slide back/open the wheel you are testing the function of the weapon’s most important parts first, while looking at safety.

  5. Chevy, I like your comment and agree for sure!

    Roy, I will check out that song as I am unfamiliar with it.

    JoJo, I have not had that happen either, but have several friends and co-workers who have. SO believe it or not, it does happen. But thanks for reading and have a fun safe summer.

  6. Couldn’t have made it an simpler! As for Test Question 1. I can’t say i’ve ever been handed a pistol in a store where they haven’t checked the chamber/showed me the weapon was clear. I guess that is the difference b/w professionals and sales folks. Either that, or they read this post!

  7. Brings back memories of an old song “Give Me back My Bullet”. I pray none of us ever has to sing that song…..

  8. Here’s a simpler one.
    There is no such thing as a loaded or unloaded weapon.
    There is a SAFE weapon (where the action is open and you can see air through the action and barrell) and an unsafe weapon (action closed) PERIOD!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading