Yeah, I know. This topic feels like it’s been ground into the dirt. Go ahead and get all your groaning out of the way.

I can wait.

Better? Alright, let’s get to it.

So, I want to take a different look at the four gun safety rules. They are not just for safety at the range. In fact, USA Carry wants to remind us that the rules are for fighting, too, and should be considered “life rules.” But let’s talk about the fighting aspect of these rules.

Rule 1 – All Guns are Always Loaded
Rule 2 – Don’t Point the Muzzle at Anything You’re Not Willing to Destroy
Rule 3 – Keep Your Finger off the Trigger Until Your Sights are on Target
Rule 4 – Know Your Target and What’s Beyond it

Here’s what I mean: if you see a gun (whether a predator is holding it, or you accidentally open the drawer in someone’s office and find it), ALWAYS assume that it is loaded. If the weapon is pointed at you or someone else, assume that it is loaded. This means that if you see some dirtbag pointing a gun at someone, it’s loaded, and they have the intent to destroy whatever the muzzle is pointed at.

We talk briefly in situational awareness about evaluating the body language of the potential threat to determine their intention.

The above case would be a blatant show of intent.

In other cases, you may have to point the muzzle in a different direction if not engaging a threat. You should know what it is you’re actually aiming the muzzle at. Is is a boarded-up window? Are there people beyond that? Are you pointing it at the ground?

But what if you actually need to take aim at a target? Alright, I’ll tell you a funny story. Hopefully my late step-father will accept me sharing his small embarrassment to prove a point.

One time, my step-father (and if you’ve been following these post in recent months, you’ll know that my step-father was a former police officer, and concealed carry instructor) was handling one of his pistols in his house. Now, in this room where he kept his pistols, there is a fireplace. Well, while he was looking this pistol over, he ejected the magazine, thumbed the safety off, took aim at one of the bricks on the far, left-hand side, and—

Before I finish, let me just say that there are two sounds that are frightening when handling a firearm: Click, no bang; Bang, no click. Right? Well, there’s another sound, Click, BANG! when there wasn’t supposed to be a bang.

To my step-father’s embarrassment, the pistol had one in the chamber. From then on, he used that story during his classes and I believe on his radio show to reiterate the fourth safety rule. Even he, with years of experience around firearms, still forgot to chamber-check (he used to make an aside here, saying “Well, I am an old, geezer, ya know.”) Luckily, he followed the second and fourth rules.

He used to tell me, “That’s why I always aim at the fireplace. There’s at least three layers of brick in there, plus some sheetrock and siding before [the bullet] could possibly make it outside.”

Now I realize this was a funny story, but in a self-defense situation, you need to be aware of what is behind the target. Are you in a grocery store? Are there people behind the bad guy? Do you have a clear line of fire? What about if you’re at home? Do you have kids in the house? Is the thief standing in front of your kids’ closet where they are hiding? These are questions you must consider.


When you teach the safety rules, have you incorporated using the rules in all aspects, including fighting?



Hannah Staton holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith where she also is a Writing Tutor. She was issued her Concealed Carry License in 2016, but has grown up around firearms her whole life. She is a Contributing Editor and Copy Writer for Clinger Holsters. She is an artist, cigar enthusiast, poet, and an avid shooter. She resides in Van Buren, Arkansas with her dog, Sunday and spends as much of her free time either with her family or making art. You can find her on Instagram @hr.staton or reach her by email:

1 reply
  1. Michael W Baumgardner
    Michael W Baumgardner says:

    Thank you for this article. I was taught rule #1 from the first time I ever saw a gun …a BB gun! I’ve been chewed out by NRA instructors because it’s not one of their rules and I maintained that it’s the most important rule.

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