The 4 Basic Rules of Gun Safety

An image of the four gun safety rules

Col. Jeff Cooper (1920–2006) was a US Marine, the creator of the modern technique of handgun shooting, and an expert on the use and history of small arms. He introduced the concept of the mental alertness color code which indicates the degree of peril a person is willing to act upon and which facilitates a person to move from one level of mindset to another (situational awareness) to enable the person to properly handle a given situation.

As a way of encouraging universal firearm safety, Col. Cooper also advocated a simple 4-point set of rules anyone can understand:

  1. EVERY gun is loaded until proven otherwise.
  2. Point the muzzle ONLY at what you want to destroy.
  3. Put your finger on the trigger ONLY when you’re ready to fire.
  4. KNOW your target and what’s behind and around it.

An image of the four gun safety rulesTrigger finger discipline is crucially fundamental to gun safety. Each and every time you handle a firearm, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. That means, place your finger up, out of and away from the trigger guard, on the side of the frame of the gun. This will avoid the possibility of a negligent discharge. Finger discipline is vitally important both before you shoot AND after you shoot. Do not linger your finger on the trigger after your final shot. Move it immediately away from the trigger and onto the frame.

Another way of remembering the safety points is with the acronym ACTS:

Read the article about the ACTS of Gun Safety at

Also see Lets Talk About Gun Safety at The Firearm Blog and The Four Rules of Gun Safety for New Gun Owners…and Everyone Else at The Truth About Guns.

Being careful and attentive to follow these rules EVERY TIME you handle a firearm will ensure safety for everyone involved!

Manufacturers Safety Pages:

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