Four Rules of Firearms Safety

Almost all firearms accidents are caused by negligence. A set of four rules has been developed to reduce the occurance of such “accidents” and to minimize the damage of the negligence that does occur. Formalized by Col. J. D. Cooper and other instructors and promoted by the National Rifle Association and similar organizations, these rules have helped reduce the number fatal firearms accidents in the United States to statistical insignificance.

The four rules may seem simplistic, but simplicity is part of their strength. They are easy to remember and easy to practice. The rules also support each other. More than one must be violated for a serious “accident” to occur.







Rule 1: Treat all firearms as loaded until you have personally verified otherwise.

Empty or remove the magazine and inspect the chamber to ensure that a firearm is unloaded. Follow this rule, and you will never have a gun-related “accident.”
Though the magazine has been removed, a cartridge can remain in the chamber.
Rule 2: Do not point a firearm at anything you are not willing to shoot.

A negligent discharge still can’t do any serious damage if it isn’t aimed at anything important. Following this rule can mean the difference between embarassment and tragedy.
Always aim a firearm in the safest direction.
Rule 3: Keep your finger off of the trigger and outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Unless you pull the trigger, you can never “accidentally” fire a gun. Follow this rule, and you will never shoot anything unintentionally.
The trigger of a firearm is not the place to rest your finger.
Rule 4: Identify your target and be aware of what is beyond it.

Never shoot at an unidentified target. Without an adequate backstop, a wayward shot can also strike an innocent bystander or damage property. Following this rule can save lives even during a potential crisis.
The shooter is responsible for every shot he fires.

Dancing Giant
“Safety is something that happens between your
ears, not something you hold in your hands.”