chalkboard writing 'gun safety 101' on a chalkboard

Gun Safety 101

Following common sense gun safety tips helps make sure that everyone can enjoy their Second Amendment rights safely. At Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show, safety is a priority. Firearms are tools that are meant to be respected, and we want to make sure that everyone who enters an Eagle Shows event–whether they’re a vendor, experienced gun hobbyist, or a newcomer visiting their first show–has a safe, comfortable weekend of fun and camaraderie. While we take care of making sure there’s a well-maintained event space with plenty of security, the rules of gun safety are everyone’s responsibility.

Myth Busting : Guns Are Dangerous

A properly functioning firearm in good repair is not dangerous. A mishandled weapon is dangerous. A weapon in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have access to it is dangerous. A gun that hasn’t been cared for can be dangerous. The following gun safety tips will help you prevent these dangerous situations, but the gun itself is a lump of metal and polymer that, if properly handled, cared for, and used, is not dangerous by default.

Keeping Our Hobby Safe

It’s important to understand that gun safety is contextual. There are professionals who handle firearms that may use different or modified gun handling rules. Hollywood does not always show proper use of firearms, and we’ve far too often found that the rules of gun safety are not always properly followed either in front of or behind the camera. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, take the safest approach possible, and contact a professional, such as a gunsmith, armorer, or rangemaster if you run into any problems or need assistance.

Treat Every Gun As If It Is Loaded 

This is the most important of the gun safety tips and, unfortunately, it is most commonly the rule overlooked when tragedy strikes. Whether you’re going through your collection, visiting a gun show, or preparing to clean your firearm after a day at the range. Every firearm is loaded until you inspect it properly to verify otherwise. If it leaves your immediate supervision after that, it is loaded again until you once again inspect it.

man examining a firearm to determine if it's loaded

Never Point A Gun At Anything You Don’t Intend To Shoot

While you should only handle a firearm you know is unloaded, it is still important to keep the muzzle pointed away from others. It is poor etiquette to “sight” down the barrel at a gun show toward anyone else, but instead, look for a corner or angle that is free. Gun shows can be crowded, but vendors can usually offer you a safe angle to examine the firearm at if you can’t find one yourself. On the range or in the field, this gun safety tip also includes knowing what you are aiming at, what is behind your target, and what may come between you and your target if you fire. 

Don’t Put Your Finger On The Trigger Until You’re Ready To Fire

man in the forest standing at a table of firearms, aiming a handgun directly ahead

Sometimes referred to as trigger discipline, this can help prevent misfires. Instead of curling your finger around the trigger, keep it pointed forward, parallel to the frame of the weapon. When using a loaded weapon, this can help prevent tragedy. At a gun show or when examining an unloaded weapon, this can prevent dry firing of the gun. This happens when the hammer or striker is released without a round in the chamber to cushion the firing pin, and it can lead to damage in some of the firearm’s more delicate components. 

Educate Yourself About Your Weapon

A fundamental part of safe firearm handling is understanding your weapon. While not everyone needs to have custom built their own firearm, they do need to be able to “field strip” their weapon for safe cleaning, know the signs of malfunction, and how to determine when something is wrong with the weapon. Most manufacturers provide user manuals that offer this information alongside gun safety tips, replacement part order forms, and warranty information. If you don’t own the gun, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the owner or vendor. They’ll be happy to talk to you about the weapon and its features.

Use The Right Ammunition

Along with educating yourself about the weapon, educate yourself about the recommended ammunition and any similarly designated ammo that could be mistaken for it. Improper ammunition or ammunition loaded to improper pressures could lead to malfunctions in the firearm that create unsafe situations. The rules of gun safety at many ranges prohibit the use of reloads, but even among commercially produced ammunition, there are variations within calibers to be aware of. As an example, rounds designated +P should only be used in guns that are rated +P for that caliber. Meanwhile, some cartridges, such as the .22 have similarly named ammo, like the .22 Short, .22 Long, .22 Long Rifle (LR), and .22 Mag can be easily confused even before factoring in subsonic, standard, high velocity, and hypervelocity designations. 

Keep Your Gun Clean And Well Maintained

Modern firearms have a lot of moving parts, and one of the most important gun safety tips for the lifetime of your weapon is to make sure you take care of it properly. This includes cleaning it after range use, inspecting it regularly, and replacing worn components as needed. This also extends to the items which will be in close contact with your gun, such as optics, carry holsters, and cases. 

Store Your Weapon Properly

A vital gun safety tip when you have kids is to keep your weapon properly stored out of reach of children. When a gun is not in use, either at the range or as your active self-defense weapon, store it unloaded in a locked safe. For rapid response, consider a modern biometric lockbox that protects your weapon from theft or small hands but still leaves it readily accessible in the case of intruders.

weapon lockbox holding a firearm and bullets

Get Your Guns, Ammunition, And Accessories All In One Place

An Eagle Shows gun show gives you a single venue to find all your firearms needs. We’re proud to bring vendors from around the region to a town near you, giving all Pennsylvanians a place they can enjoy their Second Amendment rights. Make sure you get your VIP tickets and enjoy early access to the event, giving you the first shot at the items that always sell out the fastest. Order tickets to your local gun show from Eagle Shows today.

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