Jeff Cooper formalized and popularized the “Four Rules” of firearm safety to ensure that, when followed 100% of the time, you can be assured you will never have a negligent discharge with your firearm.
You should treat every firearm you encounter like it is always loaded. The first thing to do when your hand touches a firearm is to safety-check it to ensure that it is unloaded. This is true even if you only set the firearm down for a few seconds, and then pick it up. ALWAYS do a safety-check every time you touch a firearm, no exception.
Even after you’ve performed your safety-check and you are confident the firearm is unloaded, following Rule Number 1, you should always treat the firearm as if it is still loaded and never point it at something you are not prepared to destroy. Watch that muzzle!
You have to be sure of your target, especially in hunting situations. Is that a turkey you see or another hunter in camouflage? Also, bullets will often go through your intended target and strike what is beyond. Knowing what’s beyond your target is essential to safety and is YOUR responsibility.
As with all of these rules, Rule Number 4 must be practiced 100% of the time! With modern firearms, if you are following this rule, your firearm will not fire. While a mechanical safety on a firearm is a great thing, it is still a mechanical device and all mechanical devices will fail sooner or later. Following this as well as the rest of the rules on this list, there should be no chance of a negligent discharge. There are no accidental discharges. An unintended discharge is negligent, period.
Lastly, we encourage those will small children who might be “exposed” to a firearm while you are not around, teach them these simple rules for safety:
Stop! | Don’t Touch It! | Leave the Area! | Tell an Adult!
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