Op-ed: 9 steps to gun safety

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 17:12:30-05

Fourteen-year-old Georta Mack was shot and killed Tuesday after his father confused him for a home invader and shot him, police said. We asked a gun safety expert to outline steps to keep firearms safe at home.

Alan Jones is commander of the Police Academy at Great Oaks Career Campuses and a former police officer.

Gun safety is the first topic covered in any class for adults on handling firearms. The following guidelines are among those taught in these classes:

1. The first and most important rule is to always point the gun in a safe direction. Never point a firearm at anyone or anything you do not intend to shoot. This means that an accidental discharge will not harm you or anyone else.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. If you follow these two rules, you will never have an accidental discharge resulting in a direct hit.

3. Treat all weapons as if they are loaded at all times.

4. Store your firearm and ammunition separately under lock and key.

5. For maximum security, firearms must be inoperative and inaccessible to others. Remember that if you are negligent, and someone else misuses your weapon, you are responsible.

6. Never handle a firearm when consuming alcohol.

7. Educate your family. Over one-third of American homes with children have a gun; 1.4 million homes have firearms accessible to children.

8. Suggest the following guidelines for your children if they come across a gun: stop, don’t touch, get away, tell an adult. You may want to remind them that following these steps may keep them and their friends safe.

9. And finally, don’t use a weapon until you have been properly trained.

Responsible gun owners use their firearms safely. They understand that safety must be a priority to avoid injuries and keep families and communities safe.