Safety comes first when handling firearms

Safety comes first when handling firearms
Storage, like a lock or a safe, is what many gun enthusiasts recommend. (Photo source: WLOX)
Storage, like a lock or a safe, is what many gun enthusiasts recommend. (Photo source: WLOX)
Just as important as keeping your finger off the trigger is remembering to keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction. (Photo source: WLOX)
Just as important as keeping your finger off the trigger is remembering to keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction. (Photo source: WLOX)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Continuing our series on keeping you safe, we explore the topic of firearms and how to properly use, store and handle the weapons.

What makes a weapon a weapon? Is it the potential to cause harm? Do weapons cause harm without the help of an operator? According to the owner of Gun Ho indoor gun range in Pass Christian, the answer is not likely.

"You could film these firearms behind me all day, and not one of them is going to jump off that wall and kill anybody," said Roger Caplinger.

According to Caplinger, firearms remain incapable of harm until manipulated. Once a gun is in the hands of someone, Caplinger said that person has the power to take a life in their grips. So, safety is the top priority.

"I like to say the best safety in gun safety is that right there. If that's not on the trigger, the gun's not going to go off," said Caplinger.

Just as important as keeping your finger off the trigger is remembering to keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction, according to Caplinger.

When it's not in use, it needs to be secured and out of reach of curious children. Sgt. Jackie Rhodes, with the Biloxi Police Department, agreed and suggested that children shouldn't necessarily be kept entirely from firearms.

"Once your children are old enough to be able to safely handle a firearm, then it's a good idea to take them to the range. Let them shoot a firearm. Then it's not a mystery. They know exactly what it does, exactly what it sounds like and it's not a secret anymore," said Rhodes.

Caplinger believes no matter what, teaching your children can only go so far.

"You can't necessarily teach their friends, so safe storage of a firearm is critical," Caplinger said.

Storage, like a lock or a safe, is what many gun enthusiasts recommend, but if you own a firearm, Caplinger said it's not a good idea to just leave it sitting in storage.

"If you're not trained, you're not going to know what you're going to do when the time comes to actually use the weapon," Caplinger said.

That's why he recommends getting trained and using the weapon you own on a regular basis at a local gun range. That way, you'll have the best shot at not making a mistake that you can't take back.

Before you head to the range, here is a quick safety checklist that you should review:

  • Always assume the gun is loaded.
  • Always wear hearing/eye protection.
  • Be sure of target and what is beyond it.
  • Keep finger off trigger until pointed at target and ready to shoot.
  • Keep firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • Clean weapon after each firing or when stored for a long period of time.
  • Let someone know when and where and never shoot alone.
  • Never consume alcohol while near or operating firearms.

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