The importance of “The Golden Rules” cannot be overstated. It does not matter if you are new to owning and handling a firearm or an experienced shooter; you should never violate these rules.

If you are new to firearms, I encourage you to read and understand this information before handling and or purchasing your first handgun. This information will empower you to manipulate your guns safely, thereby reducing the risk to you and others. 

I understand the new gun owner may not recognize some of the terms used in this article. The following article will be an in-depth review of standard terms all gun owners should know and understand. Remember, “The Golden Rules” is part one of a series that will help you develop safe firearm handling skills. Though this series addresses handguns, The Golden Rules apply to ALL firearms.

Golden Rule 1

Treat all firearms as if they are loaded, and always know the condition of your firearm.

Even if you are sure the handgun is empty, always check and verify that to be true. Never assume anything to be a certain way. Doing so has resulted in countless negligent discharges that have resulted in property damage, personal injury, and even deaths.

Golden Rule 2

Always keep your handgun pointed in a safe direction.

A safe direction is any direction that will not cause injury if the firearm is discharged. Consider where you are and what is beyond the muzzle of your handgun. 

For example, this could be down range toward the targets or down toward the ground if you are outside. If you live in a second-floor apartment, pointing the muzzle down would not be a safe direction. If the handgun was discharged, the bullet could penetrate the floor and potentially strike an occupant of the room below you. 

Essentially, Never point your handgun at anything you are unwilling to kill or destroy.

Golden Rule 3

Always keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Modern-day handguns do not simply go off by themselves. A human being must press the trigger all the way toward the rear to cause the firearm to discharge. That is the only way to overcome the handgun’s internal safety mechanisms. If your finger is not on the trigger, you won’t cause a negligent discharge, absent other variables.

You are ready to shoot when your sights are aligned on the target and you have made the final decision to shoot.

Golden Rule 4

Know your target. 

You are responsible for where that bullet goes every time you discharge your firearm. Your responsibility does not end until that projectile stops. You have to be able to identify your target, as well as what is beyond your target.

The Golden Rules Reference Sheet


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