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Safe firearm
Safe firearm
Courtesy of Tri-Tech Inc., Southport, NC (see reuse policy).

General safety procedures should be followed when handling firearms in any environment. Other procedures are unique to the forensic firearms laboratory, including the laboratory firing range and bullet recovery facility.



General Guidelines

The National Rifle Association (NRA) advocates three fundamental safety rules that must be applied simultaneously when handling a firearm:

  • Always keep a firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Always keep a firearm unloaded until ready to use.

Click here to view the NRA's gun safety rules

These fundamental rules can be expanded to encompass specific procedures recommended by the NRA. It is prudent to practice them in a forensic environment and in any other circumstance. In addition to the NRA rules, all firearms should be treated as if they are loaded until confirmed otherwise.

The NRA rules:

  • Be sure a firearm is safe to operate.
  • Know how to use the firearm safely.
  • Use only the correct ammunition for the firearm.
  • Know the target and what is beyond.
  • Wear eye and ear protection.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
  • Store firearms so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
  • Be aware that certain types of firearms and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.

Unusual firearms, ammunition, and circumstances will likely be encountered in the forensic firearms field. Specific situations require the use of sound judgment to ensure safety.

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