4 Firearms Safety Rules

Here at Pew Pew Tactical we want you to stay safe so we’re starting with the four primary gun safety rules.

These rules come from Colonel Jeff Cooper, the father of the Modern Technique of handgun shooting.  We’ll build on these rules as you become more familiar with firearms and their parts.

Colonel Jeff Cooper
Colonel Jeff Cooper

1. All guns are always loaded

The purpose of this rule is to develop safe habits.

Even if you are home and are absolutely sure your gun is unloaded, you may develop unsafe habits which creep into when you’re on the range with a loaded weapon.  If you get used to swinging your gun around like the Terminator in your room, you might accidentally do it at the range.

Always check yourself to see if a firearm is really unloaded before things such as handling or transportation.  Even if someone says it is empty/clear, still check it yourself.

2.  Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy

The muzzle is the front of the gun where the bullet exits and the keyword here is destroy.  Bullets will mess up physical objects but they will truly destroy human bodies.

Google “gunshot wounds” if you dare.  Even if you survive a GSW, you’ll probably be permanently disabled somehow.

This rule also builds off of rule number 1.  If the firearm can fire, assume it will fire, and make sure it goes off into a safe direction.  This means no playful pointing at other people and also being careful of where the front of the gun “sweeps.”

3.  Keep your fingers off the trigger until your sights are on the target

Since a firearm is normally fired by pulling a trigger, this rule prevents accidental discharges from events such as being startled, stumbling, or muscle spasms.  Even as you grip a gun but do not have the sights on target, keep your trigger finger out of the trigger guard area.

An easy way to spot a disciplined shooter is how they properly index their trigger finger when they are not ready to shoot.

See some of our favorite examples from movies & games.

4.  Be sure of your target and what is beyond it

The first part is to positively identify your target.  Then to realize that even if you are firing at the correct target, other targets may be hit.

Besides at the range, you’ll need to consider this rule when choosing a home defensive weapon and ammunition combo since there are most likely family members or neighbors behind the walls and ceilings.

Additional Learning

Got all that?  If you want some more reinforcement and a comprehensive video course…check out our beginner handgun course.

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Anthony S. Burkett
Anthony S. Burkett

Great list of Rules to “Live” by… but you forgot one… # 5. Know your weapon and its ammunition, their strengths and their weaknesses.. There! That about covers it, I believe any further rules are merely restatements of these 5. Also… as a couple of added comments… there is a correct method of clearing a weapon, it involves visually inspecting the weapon’s chamber once the magazine has been removed and any resident rounds have been ejected… as well as physically inspecting the chamber’s breach with the tip of your little finger to further ensure that no round remains in the… Read more »


I know several people, including myself, who’ve been around guns for years or even decades who, after dropping or emptying the magazine and clearing the gun and after checking the chamber, still had a live round fall out from somewhere. In my case, I was being too casual and routine . The bullet probably was in the chamber when I dropped the magazine, then fell into some crevice when I checked the chamber. It fell onto the ground when I thought I had an unloaded and safe gun, and had dry-fired it (in a way that protected the firing pin).… Read more »

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