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SCI Medical Mistakes
|Since acts of
violence (primarily gunshot wounds) are the second largest contributor to spinal cord
injuries, we have included this section on gun safety as part of our efforts to prevent or
reduce such injuries. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a gunshot,
either intentional or accidental, click here to learn about
I. The Fundamentals of
The three basic general rules of safe gun handling.
1. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction; never point a
firearm at anyone or anything you don't want to shoot.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard
until you are ready to shoot.
3. Keep the action open and the gun unloaded until you are ready
to use it.
II. Additional specific rules of safe gun
Safety Rules Related to the Shooter and His
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
2. Never pass a firearm to another person, or accept a firearm
from another person, until the cylinder or action is open and
you've personally checked that the weapon is completely
3. Before handling any firearm, understand its operation.
4. Never rely on any mechanical device for safety.
5. Think before shooting: once you pull the trigger you can't take
back the shot you've just fired!
6. Never joke around or engage in horseplay while handling or
7. Be alert at all times; never shoot if you're tired, cold or impaired
in any way. Don't mix alcohol or drugs with shooting.
8. Don't sleep with a loaded firearm in your bedroom if you
sleepwalk, have nightmares, sleep restlessly or have other
9. Safeguard your sight, hearing and health. Always wear eye and
ear protection. Endeavor to limit your exposure to heavy metal
particulates and gases, and minimize your contact with aromatic
organic solvents (such as those commonly used in gun cleaning
10. If you see unsafe behavior any time when firearms are being
handled or used, speak up and take action to
correct the unsafe behavior at once.
11. Receive competent instruction from a qualified person before
beginning to shoot. If questions arise later,
after you've been shooting for a period of time,
get answers to those questions from a competent
Safety Rules Related to Your Target.
1. Positively identify your target and the threat it poses before
firing at it.
2. What's behind your target? Always make sure that a stray shot,
or a bullet which penetrates its intended target through and
through, will be safely stopped.
3. Never shoot at a hard surface, or at water -- your shot may
glance off, ricochet and injure someone.
4. Never shoot at glass bottles, living trees, or inappropriate
targets which would create a hazard for other persons or
damage the environment.
5. Never shoot a rifle or handgun directly upwards, or at a high
angle of elevation. Even a rimfire .22 bullet fired at an angle
into the air can have enough energy a mile and a half away to
accidentally kill someone!
6. Never shoot across a highway or other roadway.
7. Never vandalize a road sign (or other public or private
property) by using it as a target.
8. Never poach a game animal out of season, or shoot any game
animal you don't intend to eat.
Safety Rules Related to Your Firearm.
1. Make sure your firearm is in good mechanical condition before
firing it. Periodically have your firearm checked for signs of
erosion, cracking, or wear by the factory, by a qualified
armorer, or by a factory certified gunsmith.
2. Never try to fire a gun which may have a plugged or partially
3. Insure that any modifications made to a firearm are made by a
qualified individual, and that those modifications don't
interfere with your firearm's safety features.
4. Be sure all accessories, such as holsters and grips, are
compatible with the firearm and won't interfere with its safe
5. Remember: a backup firearm carried about your person may be
highly valuable to you in the event your primary firearm is ever
rendered inoperable or is taken from you by an assailant.
6. It is your responsibility to insure that your firearm is always either
about your person and under your personal control, or positively
secured from access by children or other unauthorized parties.
7. Prevent tragedy: lock down your firearms when they aren't in
8. When storing a firearm for a long period of time, consider
storing the slide, bolt, or other critical components of the
firearm separately under separate lock and key.
9. Never carry a single action revolver with a round under the
hammer unless that revolver is a modern transfer-bar type,
equipped with an inertial firing pin.
10. Never carry a pistol with a round in the chamber unless the
pistol has an automatic firing-pin block and/or
an inertial firing pin.
11. Generally avoid carrying or storing an external hammer-type
firearm with its hammer cocked. Exercise extreme
care in decocking any external hammer firearm: it is
very easy to experience an accidental discharge while
doing so if your thumb slips off the hammer.
12. Generally avoid unloading a firearm by working the
cartridges through the action
one-at-a-time; drop the magazine and then
eject the round which may be left in the
chamber, instead, if possible.
13. Never use a scope mounted on a firearm as a general
purpose spotting scope: while observing an area
you may end up accidentally aiming your firearm
at fellow hunters, or other non-targets.
14. Avoid trying to catch a live round (while unloading a
semiautomatic pistol) by cupping your hand
around the ejection port while retracting the
slide; doing so may result in an accidental
15. Never ---
- Climb a tree with a loaded firearm,
- Cross a fence with a loaded firearm,
- Jump a ditch or ford a stream with a loaded
- Prop or lean a loaded firearm against a tree
or other surface which may
allow it to slide, or
- Transport a cased loaded firearm.
16. Always carry your firearms in a way which will allow you to
control where the muzzle is pointing, should you
stumble or fall. 17. Always wear a thousand square inches or more of blaze
orange while in the field during hunting season.
III. Safe Gun Storage.
When you are not using your firearm, you should insure that it is stored safely.
Affirmative measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to a defensive firearm by
minors, or firearm theft, include:
1. Use of a simplex-type locking box for securing firearms which
need to be kept loaded yet available for ready-access
defensive use, and
2. Use of trigger locks or padlocks to secure firearms which don't
need to be kept immediately available for defensive use.
3. Gun security devices which rely solely on physical strength to
secure firearms from unauthorized use are generally
undesirable since ingenious children can potentially employ
leverage or tools to overcome those devices.
4. "Hiding" a firearm won't secure it from discovery and possible
misuse by curious children or intruders.
5. Metal gun cabinets or gun safes can be used to safeguard
firearms from unauthorized access or theft in many
circumstances and metal gun cabinets or gun safes are
generally preferable to open racks or glass-front cabinets.
6. Firearms should be stored unloaded and separate from ammunition
when the firearm isn't needed for ready-access defensive use.
7. You may want to store critical components of a firearm (such
as the gun's bolt or slide) separately from the rest of the
firearm when the gun won't be used in the immediate future.
8. Consider engraving your firearms with your social security
number, driver's license number, or concealed firearms license
number to deter theft and facilitate return of stolen firearms
which may happen to be recovered.
9. Explore "gun-proofing" your child by proper training, and by
controlled and closely supervised access to firearms to reduce
your child's natural unsatisfied curiosity about firearms.
For the names of other organizations that provide gun
safety information, please visit our Other Helpful
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