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Gun ownership comes with certain responsibilities. The following list provides basic guidelines for safe handling and storage of guns.

1. Safekeeping guns
First and foremost, guns should be safely stored in a heavy-duty safe. Guns should always be stored unloaded. Guns and ammunition should be stored in two separate locations. The keys to these safes should be stored in yet a third location, in a place unknown by unauthorized persons. If the safes require codes, not keys, only authorized adults should know or have access to the codes. Never leave a gun unattended.

2. Protecting ears and eyes.
The noise from guns can cause hearing damage. Guns may also release debris and hot gas that could injure eyes. Shooting glasses and hearing protectors should always be worn by shooters and spectators.

3. Cleaning guns
When the time comes to clean the gun, be absolutely positive that it is not loaded; there should not even be ammunition in the cleaning area. The gun’s action should remain open throughout the cleaning. Regular cleaning is important for guns to operate properly and safely. It also prolongs the life of the gun and helps maintain its value. Your gun should be cleaned after each use. A gun should be cleaned before use if it has been in storage for a prolonged period of time. Built-up moisture and dirt may prevent the gun from operating correctly.

4. Handling guns
Before handling a gun, familiarize yourself with how it works and its basic functions. Learn how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition. Remember, the gun’s mechanical safety device is not foolproof. Also, be sure to identify your target and be aware of the area surrounding your target and beyond before shooting

5. Loading guns
Do not load a gun until immediately prior to using it. The following are specific instructions:

  • Point muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Open the action, and ensure that the barrel is free from obstructions.
  • Put the safety on if firearm can be loaded with the safety on.
  • Load ammunition.
  • Close action.
  • Put the safety on if you weren’t able to before loading.

Uploading Guns

  • Point muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Put the safety on if it is not on already.
  • Keep your finger outside trigger guard.
  • Open action.
  • Remove ammunition by detaching the magazine first. Eject shells or cartridges if it's the only way to remove them.
  • Ensure that the gun is empty by checking both the chamber and the magazine.
Posted 11/18/2009 7:27 AM