Firearm safety tips from 412th TW Safety

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As spring rapidly approaches in Southern California, more and more people will enjoy outdoor shooting ranges and hunting.
Recreational shooting can be enjoyed by all ages, but it is not without hazards. Like most recreational sports, there are safety concerns that must be addressed in order to have a fun event while minimizing the risk of injury.
The 412th Weapons Safety Office would like to remind both experienced and new gun owners some of the basic hazards related to firearms and the rules of firearm safety so that you can enjoy a safe day at the range.
The leading cause of firearms-related injuries are unintentional shootings.
A recent study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 600 Americans die from unintentional shootings each year. Aside from deaths, other injuries related to firearms are commonly caused by the use of improper ammunition or not wearing proper personal protective equipment.
Firearms are inherently dangerous and the best ways to prevent injuries or deaths are to follow the 10 Rules of Firearm Safety, derived from The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety by the Remington Arms Company:

1. Always keep your firearm pointed in safe direction.
This is the most important safety rule and still applies even if you “know” your firearm is clear and safe.

2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
Remove all ammunition from the firearm. Store firearms in a secure location away from ammunition at home to prevent accidental loading and firing of the weapon by a guest or children.

3. Don’t rely on your firearm’s safety.
The lives of you and your loved ones should not be placed in the hands of a safety. Firearm safeties are not 100% reliable.

4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
Tunnel vision can lead to the death or injury of a bystander that is beyond an intentional target.  Situational awareness is paramount.

5. Use proper ammunition.
Refer to your firearm owner’s manual to ensure you are using the right ammunition.  Do not mix different calibers of ammunition together in the same container.  The use of the wrong ammunition can cause the firearm to explode in the hands of the user.

6. If your gun fails to fire when trigger is pulled, handle with care.
Follow rule 1 and wait 30 seconds. After that, gently clear the weapon of the misfired round. At an established range, place the unfired round in a misfire container. At an approved BLM shooting area, remove the round from the area. Clear and inspect the weapon for damage. Take the firearm to a certified gunsmith if this problem persists.

7. Always wear eye, ear protection when shooting.
Eye protection rated for firearms use will protect the wearer from eye injuries caused by unburned powder and expended brass casings as well as protecting the eyes in the event of an unlikely explosion of the weapon.  Hearing protection prevents hearing loss associated with the proximity of a discharging firearm. Hearing loss begins at 85 decibels and the average sound level emitted by a firearm is 155 decibels. Hearing loss is permanent.

8. Be sure barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
Any object inside the barrel can cause the firearm to explode when fired.  If the barrel cannot be cleared, take the firearm to a certified gunsmith.

9. Do not alter or modify your firearm and have it serviced regularly.
To ensure a firearm functions as designed, only a trained gunsmith should make modifications.  Service should be conducted in accordance with the owner’s manual, at an interval set by the manufacturer.

10. Learn mechanics and handling characteristics of your firearm.
A responsible gun owner must know how their firearm functions and how to operate the safeties.  A responsible gun owner should also instruct shooters that are unfamiliar with your firearm before using it.

Hundreds of Americans die each year from unintentional shootings. A responsible firearm owner has a duty to follow and enforce the 10 Rules of Firearm Safety to prevent a firearms related mishap. Of course, when you are not shooting, the best way to keep your family safe is through the use of safe storage techniques. You should store your unloaded guns and ammunition separately.
You should also use a trigger lock or cable lock to prevent the gun from firing. Finally, store your gun in a locked container such as an approved gun safe; dormitory and High Desert Inn residents are required to store firearms in the 412th Security Forces Squadron armory.
The change in weather will bring out more recreational shooters and the 412th TW Weapons Safety Office hopes that it has provided you with the tools to have a safe and fun day at the range.
If there any questions or concerns regarding firearm safety, contact the Weapons Safety office at 661-277-5298 or email 412TW.SEW@us.af.mil.