GUN SAFETY 101 | What Every New Gun Owner Needs to Know!

For everyone who has recently purchased their first handguns, WELCOME! Whether you’ve invested in your first gun for everyday carry (EDC) or home defense, it’s important to learn gun safety as soon as possible. is committed to helping new gun owners learn how to handle, carry, train with, and store firearms safely so you’re not alone. Let’s start this journey together!


You may have inadvertently missed this step but a good rule of thumb when purchasing your first firearm is to determine how and where you will store it. Whether you’re choosing a quality biometric gun safe that fits in the top drawer of your nightstand for home protection or a classic gun safe to store your long guns outside hunting season, it’s important to have a safe spot ready for all your firearms.

RELATED CONTENT: Gun Safety 101 | How to Safely Store Your Guns & Ammo

It’s also important to inform others in the home of your decision. Sharing your decision to become a gun owner with the adults in your home allows them to also learn gun safety and offers an opportunity for you to work together on a plan in the event you must draw your firearm to defend a life.

We teach our children about how to be safe around so many things from cleaning products to stoves and prepare them to react in emergencies by having fire and tornado drills, but what about firearms? Teaching children gun safety – whether you have a firearm in your home or not – does save lives.

Created for homes with very small children, NSSF’s Project ChildSafe breaks down gun safety into three simple, easy-to-digest rules they can follow not just at home, but in the homes of friends and family members as well!

  1. Don’t snoop (or let other kids snoop) for guns in the house.
  2. If you find a gun, STOP! DON’T TOUCH IT or allow anyone else to. LEAVE THE AREA immediately and TELL AN ADULT.
  3. Even if a gun looks like a toy, don’t touch it. Even if you think it might be a toy, don’t take a chance. Leave the area and immediately tell an adult.

Offering videos, educational materials, parent resources, and a palatable curriculum for Pre-K through 4th-grade children, the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program has taught over 32 million children how to stay safe if they ever find a gun. Created by a task force made up of educators, curriculum specialists, clinical psychologists, and NRA firearm safety experts, Eddie and his pals have become the number one gun accident prevention program for children since it was created in 1988.


Now that you’ve laid the safety groundwork for yourself and those in your home, let’s learn the FOUR RULES OF GUN SAFETY. From gun stores to Gunsite, these rules have been passed down to new shooters for generations. Following 100% of these rules 100% of the time will guarantee your safety 10,000% – so pay attention and commit them to memory!

  • TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS IF IT IS LOADED. Even if you have visually and physically checked your firearm and know it’s clear, treat every firearm with the same respect as a loaded firearm every time.
  • NEVER POINT A FIREARM AT ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY. Make sure to always point your firearm in a safe direction. This practice will ensure everyone’s safety with its simplicity: if you never point at anything you value, you won’t destroy it.
  • KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE ON TARGET AND READY TO FIRE. When you squeeze the trigger, whether you intend to or not, the gun will fire. Therefore, it makes sense to keep that finger off the trigger until the target is in your sights and you are ready to shoot. Your trigger finger is an external safety, so use it! BONUS FACT: This rule is where the phrase, “keep your booger picker off the bang switch” originated.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEHIND IT. Good news: It’s 3 am and you’ve got the bad guy in your sights. Bad news: That happens to be up against a wall and your child’s bedroom is on the other side. Gun safety is not only identifying and locating your target, it’s also knowing what is behind and beyond it. This will ensure the enemy in your sight is the only thing being destroyed by your shot.

These may seem like four very simple, almost dummy-proof steps to follow to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you but when you’re first starting out, they may not come naturally to everyone. But as millions of gun owners can attest (myself included!), you’ll be reciting them by heart and recognizing them in person before you know it!


Let’s say you’re ready to practice with your new firearm and ask a friend to join you. It is important to ensure your firearm is unloaded and safe to handle when handing a firearm to another person. We know that following the four rules of gun safety will ensure your safety but is there more we can do?

Yes, there is!

First, eject the magazine from the firearm to both visually and physically confirm it is empty, removing any bullets manually, if necessary. Then, reseat the magazine into the firearm, reach over with your non-dominant hand, and pull back the slide. At this point, the slide will lock back – confirming your firearm is indeed unloaded and safe to transfer.

Even when you’re transferring the gun and not just holding it yourself, make sure the gun is unloaded and safe, there’s nothing in the barrel, no debris, no ammo—no matter what you’re doing. Every time you transfer, you should repeat this same process.


One thing new gun buyers might not realize is that, unlike most standard hunting rifles or shotguns, pistols and other semi-automatic firearms may not feature an external safety mechanism. In fact, pistols like this one have an integrated safety built into the trigger. As you start to squeeze the trigger, it releases the integrated safety – allowing you to complete your trigger press and fire the pistol. If the trigger is engaged from the top, the gun won’t fire – as this action will not clear the integrated safety with a proper trigger press. This is a perfect example (aside from Gun Safety Rule #3!!) of why trigger discipline is critical.



“Shooting is a perishable skill,” instructor Pat Rogers always said but how do new gun owners cultivate great shooting skills? Taking a basic pistol course, signing up for a weekend skills class, or fully immersing yourself in a 5-day 250 Defensive Pistol Course at Gunsite are all great options.

If you can’t afford classes, aren’t able to fit them into your schedule, or are just feeling too overwhelmed to take one by yourself yet, dry firing. is a fantastic option – as long as you have basic firearm knowledge and a firm grasp of the Four Rules of Gun Safety. Dry firing can be done in your home, won’t blow through your ammo, and if done correctly, can drastically improve your shooting skills and build confidence!

Before you begin, make sure your firearm is empty. Check it, then double-check it – both visually and physically. To practice dry firing your gun, aim in a clear and safe direction, take aim, and smoothly press the trigger until you feel and hear the gun click. This method gets you familiar with your firearm, allows you to find the break in your trigger press, creates confidence with your trigger finger and press, and teaches you when in your trigger press your gun will actually going to go off. The repetitive motion of finding the same position for your trigger finger both on the trigger (when you have your target in sight) and the frame (both before and after you press the trigger) eventually becomes muscle memory.

RELATED CONTENT: How to Practice Dry Fire: Maggie’s Minutes Presented by Ruger


There are a lot of options out there for anyone looking for a more interactive form of training than dry firing ‘blind’ in your living room. While improving your gun handling, trigger press, and the speed at which you’re able to acquire the target in your sight, after dry firing a few rounds you may think, “Well that felt good, but where did my shot actually ‘land’?”

Fortunately, there are LOTS of options to help you get comfortable with your firearm and improve your skills! MantisX is affordable, portable, and easily attaches to your firearm’s rail to give you instant feedback on trigger control, shot placement, and much more! Not only does the MantisX evaluate shooting performance, identify areas of improvement, and track progress, but you can also compete against friends & family on the app. It’s a great and fun way to train!

Strikeman‘s dry fire laser systems allow you to train at home, save money on ammo, and improve your accuracy and draw time. Their dry fire systems are also portable, affordable, and easy to set up.

While dry firing at home is a good way to practice with your firearm, it’s still no substitute for time at the range tossing brass so be sure to pepper in multiple ways to train in order to stay sharp.

Gun Safety 101 | GetZone New Gun Owner Tips

Now that you know the basics, what will you learn next? Stay with GetZone for more ways to learn, train, and grow in your path to proficiency!

WE WANT TO KNOW: When and how did you learn gun safety? Do you teach your children and/or family & friends the same way? Is there something you teach or a tip you share that is unique? Share your story with us in the comments below!

RELATED CONTENT: AMMO 101 | What Every New Gun Owner Should Know About Ammunition

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