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The Ten Commandments of Gun Safety

It is imperative that everyone obey these rules at all times when handling any firearm, loaded or not, regardless of how many years experience you have with firearms.  Do not allow your experience to cause your adherance to these rules to become relaxed.  Do you know what takes place in the cockpit of a jet airliner prior to departure form an airport?  The pilot and co-pilot read through a pre-flight checklist and make absolutely sure every item on that checklist has been completed.  It doesn't matter if the pilots have 30,000 hours of flying time behind them, they always go through the checklist.  There's too much at stake to accidentally forget something.

Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  Most firearm accidents are followed by somebody saying, "I didn't know it was loaded!"  Always assume it's loaded, and treat it as if it were.

Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.  This is obvious, since the trigger is designed to fire the gun.  Do not rely on the safety to stop the gun from firing if the trigger is pulled.  The safety by no means makes a loaded firearm completely safe.  I don't even know why they call it a "safety".  It should be called a "not as dangerous".

Always keep the gun unloaded until it is ready to use.  Always check  the magazine and the chamber before handling a weapon.  A gun can  still fire with an empty magazine if there's a round in the chamber.  I  personally never keep any guns loaded at my house, and I don't load them  until I'm actually sitting at the shooting bench.

Know how to operate the gun safely.  If you've just purchased a brand new firearm, don't go straight from the gun store to the range.  Take it home first, and spend a few days to familiarize yourself with its operation.  Don't practice by loading ammunition into it!  The manufacturer will send you a free manual if you write to them.

Be sure the gun is safe to operate.  If you're not sure, have a professional check it.

Use only the correct ammunition for the gun.  This information is usually stamped in the barrel/chamber of the gun.

Know your target and what is beyond it.  Never shoot at a skylined object.  Never shoot over water or ice since bullets can ricochet and fly off in unpredictable directions.

Wear eye and ear protection.  You cannot replace your eyes, and your hearing diminishes a little bit each time you're exposed to noise levels above 90db.  Almost every gunshot far exceeds that.

Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.  Alchohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it causes everything conected to your central nervous system to operate in diminished capacity.  This includes your judgement, and if there were ever a time when your judgement should not be compromised, it's when handling firearms.

Store your guns unloaded and not accessible to unauthorized persons.  By "unauthorized persons", I am especially referring to young children.  Allow your children to handle them under your strict supervision and take them shooting with you when you feel they are ready, but remember that young children are naturally curious and you should make absolutely sure they cannot access your firearms when you are not around.  Spare no expense here.

Commandment Eleven
I know, this is supposed to be the "Ten Commandments" of gun safety, but I feel I must add one of my own to the list.  Completely give up all drug use and heavy drinking if you keep firearms in your home.  The reasons for this should be obvious to most people.  In addition to the safety concerns, there are also concerns based on principle: How can you call yourself a "law-abiding gun owner" if you're smokin' that ganja?  Come on, it's bad for your lungs anyway.  Just say no!