The 4 Rules of Gun Safety | 5 Rules of Gun Safety

The 4 Rules of Gun Safety (Plus I added a 5th Rule)

These are the rules. You MUST abide by these at ALL TIMES to avoid accidents that may cause damage to property, injury or DEATH. I added one that I believe is overlooked for those of you that train drawing from the holster. That means there are 5 gun safety rules!

It is all too common that we hear of people getting seriously injured or killed due to a momentary lapse in judgement on the part of the injured party or someone else.

Every single gun related “accident” is due to someone breaking one or more of the following four rules of gun safety!!!

  1. The gun is always loaded.
  2. Never point the gun at anything you do not want to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger away from the trigger until the gun is on target and you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always know what is in line with the target (in front and behind) before you shoot.
  5. I know, there are “4 Rules of Gun Safety” but since this site is about kydex OWB holsters, I need to add one more rule: Always re-holster your gun SLOWLY with your finger straight.

Now I will cover each gun safety rule in detail so you understand why it is important and exactly what it means.

Rule #1: The Gun is Always Loaded

Loaded .38 Special Revolver
Loaded .38 Special Revolver

Is the gun really ALWAYS loaded? Of course not.

There are times when the gun is actually unloaded and completely incapable of firing a round.

The purpose of this Number 1 Rule is to get in the habit of handling every gun as if it was loaded, that way you will always treat the gun in a safe manner, loaded or not. There will be times that you do not know if a gun is loaded:

  • Someone hands you a gun on the range to shoot or just to admire.
  • You come across a gun at someone’s house or on the street.
  • You go into your gun safe for the first time in years and can’t remember if you put it away loaded or not.
  • A gun store salesman hands you a gun from the gun case without checking it first.

You are better off treating it as if it was loaded than taking a chance.

Rule #2: Never point the gun at anything you do not want to destroy

This means NEVER, EVER. Period. Can you imagine how many people would still be alive today if their friend, brother, sister, wife, husband, etc, NEVER pointed that gun at them?

Even if all the other rules are thrown out the window, if the gun was never pointed at a person to begin with, it could “go off” all day long and never hurt anyone (well, except for maybe their hearing!) I actually think this rule should be number One.

True story: I had a negligent discharge myself a couple years back, and I thank God I was pointing the gun in a safe direction when it happened. My family was just 15 feet away in the other room when I thought I was releasing the cocked striker on an empty chamber. I squeezed that trigger and BOOM! Not the “click” I was expecting.

40 caliber gun and bullet, pipe with bullet hole.
40 caliber gun and bullet, pipe with bullet hole.

I put a hole in the office floor, and the 3/4″ water main in the basement, and the door to the storage room downstairs instead of a family member! This is the main reason I am so adamant about gun safety rules to this day.

Rule #3: Keep your finger away from the trigger until the gun is on target and you are ready to shoot.

gun with finger off trigger
Gun Safety Rule #3. Finger off the trigger until on target.

A gun cannot fire without something pressing the trigger. That “something” is almost always a finger. Conversely, when a finger is on a trigger, the chances of that gun firing, intended or not, are extremely high!

One of the first things you are taught at a gun training class is to keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard at ALL times until the gun is aimed at a safe target and you are ready to fire.

Guns DO NOT just “go off”. They are designed to shoot when the trigger is pressed. A gun only fires when someone or something puts pressure on the trigger.

Yes, a gun is a mechanical device, it is possible that a mechanical defect could cause a gun to fire when nothing is actually touching the trigger, but instances of this happening are exceedingly rare. Here is an article called “Do Guns Accidentally Go Off?”

Rule #4: Always know what is in line with the target (in front and behind) before you shoot.

This means you need to know what, or who, is behind your target, or maybe is about to cross in front of your gun. Most target ranges are set up with a safe backstop, so your bullets are safely stopped after penetrating your target.

However, if you need to shoot a bad guy in your house, you need to know where that bullet is going to go if you miss, or if it passes completely through the bad guy and continues through the house. Most handgun rounds will penetrate several interior walls with ease and remain deadly after doing so.

Be prepared to change angles or move in such a way that an errant round will wind up safely stopping in the ground or against a brick wall!

Rule #5: Always re-holster your gun SLOWLY with your finger straight.

When you are training and practicing drawing and shooting fast, you tend to get into a “move fast” mode. DO NOT allow yourself to re-holster your gun quickly! There will never be a situation where you need to put your gun away fast!

If you go fast and your finger, or part of your shirt that came untucked gets into the trigger guard as you are jamming the gun into your new Blade-Tech OWB Kydex Holster, you will most definitely be heading to the trauma unit with a large hole through your firing side leg!

It happened in the range next to mine when I was at a Firearms Training Institute. The guy was holstering his .45 too fast, and his finger got into the trigger guard and he ended up on a helicopter ride to the hospital. Re- holster SLOWLY!

There you have it. If you follow these Four rules of Gun Safety (and Rule #5) ALL the time, you will never have a situation that you will regret.

16 thoughts on “The 4 Rules of Gun Safety | 5 Rules of Gun Safety”

  1. This is so helpful. It’s so many misguided people out there that don’t know how to properly to use a gun. And it’s hurting our society’s and communities. I think everyone with guns and rifles should spend more time and effort learning about their gun and gun safety. This is a great article and definitely sharing this on facebook.

    • thanks Garrett! I think it is good for beginners and long time gun owners to review the basics from time to time. Nothing can change your life faster than a moment of carelessness when a gun is involved! Once these rules become ingrained, chances of bad things happening are greatly reduced. 

  2. Hello and thanks for sharing these five rules of gun safety. In the past, I have heard so much sad news of persons being killed simply because they ignored or did not know all of the rules that governs gun safety. Your post is well detailed and is a good help for persons to know that owning a gun may be good, but the rules are just important to remain safe at all times. Thanks again for sharing. Your post is a great help.

  3. Hello friend,

    This is a very helpful information indeed that you have shared with all of us. Indeed holding a Gun comes with it own dangers. and this your post has proved to be much helpful.

    I especially like the fact that you did not just provide detailed information on how to keep a Gun safety, but also provided well illustrated pictures on just how to do this.

    I know that anyone looking for gun safety who visit this site of yours will indeed enjoy reading this article, especially with your visual aids.

    • Thank you Stephen! I want people to be safe with their firearms and getting this information to as many people as possible will hopefully prevent any  accidents!

  4. Nice article, i mean seriously it is so important to be as safe as possible when handling guns. Like your saying here there are just certain unwritten rules that you have to abide by, its the same as anything in life like driving, cooking, getting pets etc.

    Anyone who disregards these unwritten rules will inevitably cause damage to themselves or someone else, or even worse. I really like the first rule the most – if everyone in the world treated every gun as if it is loaded even it it isn’t, then a lot of gun related accidents would not happen around the world.

    Really this is invaluable so thank you for raising awareness on this important topic.

    • Thanks for your kind comments Marley. I get tired of hearing about accidental shooting, simply because someone was not careful and did not respect the firearm. My hope is that these rules will be talked about and taught to everyone who owns a gun.

  5. This post is short, yet awesome! Given the place guns have in our world and the fact our lousy politicians are slowly letting the world head to ruin, I have felt this growing urgency that more people(myself included) may eventually have to learn about the use of guns in anticipation of the future. This post on The 4 Rules of Gun Safety (plus the 5th) is a great start for anyone venturing into concealed carry guns.

    The 4 Rules of Gun Safety (plus the 5th) all seem to appeal to common sense after reading through them. They all bring to attention that gun are not toys. No one should be like Homer Simpson from “The Cartridge Family” episode of The Simpsons who treated his gun like a toy. Your 5th rule is a welcome addition because one can easily trigger the gun if one improperly holsters or unholsters their gun. I believe that anyone who is serious about concealed carry should mentally repeat the 4 rules of gun safety (plus the 5th) every now and then.

    • Thanks for the nice comment! I felt I had to add that 5th one after hearing about too many people adding unnecessary holes to their firing side legs! Holstering slow is hard when you are practicing drawing fast!

  6. Thank you for writing about the 4 rules of gun safety. This information is extremely important. Even though you don’t mention specific numbers, I get a feeling that accidents happen quite often, is that so?

    Just another rule I would add here as a mom, is keeping the gun out of the reach of children. Unfortunately every now and then you van hear how some kid has accidentaly shot his friend with his dads gun. That is so terrible.

    How are you avoiding situation like that to happen? And have you reached your children about these rules? (of course depending how old they are)
    All the best!

    • Thanks for your comment, Maria! Unfortunately, gun accidents do happen more often than they should. I agree that maybe Gun Safety rule #6 may be to keep the out of reach of children! My kids are adults now, but I took them to the range and taught them safe gun handling when they were young so they would respect firearms as well as know how to use and handle them. 

      I do keep all my guns in safes located throughout my home that have quick access with a code. I recommend Gun Vault safes as I have had good luck with them over the years.

  7. I shot my first gun pretty recently and I wish I would of read your post before I went there trying to break those clay pigeons in half with a shotgun. I was lucky to have a guy next to me instructing me but I was really confused about the safety and whether it was on or not.

    As you said, it is so important to not point the gun unless your about to shoot it. I love how you added the video at the bottom.

    You may have saved some lives with this post my friend

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I believe that if everyone would always follow these simple rules, accidental shootings would be a rare occurrence in this country. Guns are useful tools but like most tools they must be respected and used with great care. After my negligent discharge, I am thankful that I was following at least one of the rules, which was to always point the gun in a safe direction!

  8. It’s good that you mentioned how you should put your gun back in its holster slowly so you do not injure yourself. My wife is interested in buying her uncle a gun and holster, but we want to make sure that he understands gun safety. We’ll be sure to let him know that he should properly holster his weapons.


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