Lack of education often results in firearm mishaps

Master Sgt. Edward Story, Jr.

In the last year, two Airmen from Cannon received gun shot wounds while cleaning their firearms. Both incidents resulted from negligence and lack of familiarity with their weapon.
Fortunately for the individuals, no life threatening or long-term injuries were sustained. These mishaps are instant reminders of the importance of knowing, understanding and using the safety aspects of firearms. As a firearm owner, experience level is extremely important because accidents or deaths often result from lack of education and proficiency. The personal responsibility taken as professionals to be educated and trained in handling firearms decreases the chances of accidents occurring within our homes or while deployed to the area of responsibility. Safety begins with everyone, and that being said, here are some firearm safety tips.
First, learn the characteristics of the firearm, starting with reading and understanding the owner’s manual. By doing this, Airmen can educate themselves to become thoroughly acquainted with the firearm.
Second, treat every firearm as if it were loaded, eliminating any chance to lapse into bad habits. The bottom line is to always perform visual and physical checks to verify the status of the weapon.
Third, keep fingers off the trigger until ready to shoot. By carefully resting the finger along the trigger guard, the chance of accidentally discharging the weapon is greatly reduced.
Fourth, never rely solely on the weapon’s mechanical safety because although mechanical safeties are designed to prevent a firearm from firing, these devices may fail. The more prudent practice is to keep the weapon unloaded along with your finger off the trigger.
The last tip concerns cleaning the weapon. Too many weapons are discharged during the cleaning process – as in Cannon’s recent close calls. Other than ensuring the necessary cleaning elements are available and ready, confirm the chamber is empty prior to the cleaning process. Verify possible obstructions are clear from the bore and carefully inspect for other potential mechanical malfunctions. Remember, the most important step in cleaning is making certain the weapon is not loaded.
Firearm safety is no joking matter and is equally important for owners and operators.
By using these simple safety tips, Airmen can reduce the risk of an unnecessary accident and allow Cannon to safely operate while they “work hard and play smart.”