Part 2 of 3: Become an Expert – Lives Are on the Line

I am a supporter of the rights of Americans to arm themselves.  I believe that the presence of legal guns will reduce violence & the effectiveness of illegal guns. Without professional training & practice, though, a person with a gun is like a baby with a hammer.

Owning a car does not make a person a good driver; neither does getting a driver’s license.  It takes training & years of regular practice to become a good, safe driver.  Otherwise, a car is a dangerous, deadly weapon. Gun ownership is similar.  I believe that no one should carry a gun until they are experts in avoiding violence & experts in using a gun when needed.

I wonder, how many well-meaning fathers give their daughters a deadly weapon & think they are protected from malicious perpetrators?  Such a gift, without extensive training, could do just the opposite.

One of the greatest common errors is believing you will be able to use a gun effectively, if the situation arises.  Not likely.  Life-threatening situations trigger the body’s fear responses, flooding your body with adrenaline.  Without training and practice, you will more than likely freeze. Your thinking ability & motor skills will go to zero.  Even if you get to the gun, if it is not loaded, you will not be able to load it; if it is loaded, you will probably fumble the gun; if you are able to fire it, you will miss.  The assailant could then grab the weapon and use it to attack you.  Scary, isn’t it.

The first question is why own a gun?  Hunting, marksmanship, collecting, & self-defense are all good reasons.  All require the same basic knowledge & practices.  Many critics of the National Rifle Association fail to note that safety & training are major elements of their purpose.  Below is an excerpt from their website on gun safety.

NRA Gun Safety Rules

The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION.
    •  This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage.
    • The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times.
    • Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL READY TO SHOOT.
    • When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun UNLOADED UNTIL READY TO USE.
    • Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device
    • If the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action
    • Look into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition.
    • If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone & get help from someone who does.

When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:

  • Store guns so they are NOT ACCESSIBLE TO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS.
    • Many factors must be considered when deciding where & how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration.
    • Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available.
    • However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail & should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling & the observance of all gun safety rules.
  • Never use ALCOHOL OR OVER-THE-COUNTER, PRESCRIPTION OR OTHER DRUGS before or while shooting.
    • Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
  • Wear EYE & EAR PROTECTION as appropriate.
    • Guns are loud & the noise can cause hearing damage.
    • They can also emit debris & hot gas that could cause eye injury.
    • For these reasons, shooting glasses & hearing protectors should be worn by shooters & spectators.
  • Use only the CORRECT AMMUNITION FOR YOUR GUN.
    • Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun.
    • Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel.
    • Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box & sometimes stamped on the cartridge.
    • Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
  • Know your TARGET & WHAT IS BEYOND.
    •  Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt.
    • Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot.
    • Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap.
    • Think first. Shoot second.
  • Know HOW TO USE THE GUN SAFELY.
    • Before handling a gun, learn how it operates.
    • Know its basic parts, how to safely open & close the action & remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine.
    • Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof.
    • Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
  • Be sure the gun is SAFE TO OPERATE.
    • Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable.
    • Regular cleaning & proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep.
    • If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
  • Be aware that certain types of guns & many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
  • Cleaning
    • Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly & safely.
    • Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value & extend its life.
    • Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
    • A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting.
    • Accumulated moisture & dirt, or solidified grease & oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
    • Before cleaning your gun,make absolutely sure that it is unloaded.
    • The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process.
    • Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.
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