Missourians enjoy the right to own and carry firearms though the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Missouri Constitution, and state statutes, but firearms safety should be an important part of firearms ownership for the armed citizen.
Firearm owner’s manuals provide instruction on methods to safely load, unload, use safeties, and fire a particular firearm. Professional instruction also is highly recommended.
Most firearm retailers have trained staff capable of explaining the safe operation of firearms and the National Rifle Association (NRA) has tens of thousands of reputable, certified firearm instructors across the nation.
The Lee’s Summit Police Department (LSPD) firearm instructors receive NRA instructor certification.
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The National Institute of Health and NRA recommend teaching children to never touch a gun without adult supervision.
Children who might find a gun also should be taught to leave it alone and immediately tell an adult.
Teaching children gun safety early in life can remove the tempting mystique surrounding guns and actually develop children with greater respect for firearms safety.
Firearm owners should consider storing their firearms unloaded in lockable storage compartments until ready for use.
A firearm kept for home defense should be secured out of the reach of children, with extra precautions when handling.
The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act requires licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers to provide a safety device with the purchase of a new firearm.
Trigger locks surround the trigger guard, blocking the manipulation of the trigger. Cable locks, which block the firearm’s action from loading a cartridge into the barrel, are secured with a key or combination lock.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) developed Project Child Safe, partnering with local police agencies to distribute free gun-safety devices. LSPD and many other Kansas City metro police departments participate in this program.
The Cardinal Rules of Firearm Safety provide safe handling guidelines for experts or beginners. These rules may differ slightly between various sources, but the Cardinal Rules followed by LSPD include:
▪ ▪ Treat all firearms as if they were loaded;
▪ ▪ Always keep the firearm (muzzle) pointed in a safe direction, where a negligent discharge would cause no human injury and only minimal property damage;
▪ ▪ Keep your finger off the trigger, outside the trigger guard, indexed along the frame or slide until you are on target (aiming at what you intend to shoot), and have made a conscious decision to shoot;
▪ ▪ Be aware of your target, its backstop, and what is beyond your target.
Citizens exercising their right to carry firearms should fully understand self-defense laws.
In general, Missouri Statute 563.031 authorizes deadly force only when a person “reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, or herself or her unborn child, or another against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony.”
Being aware of your surroundings and avoiding potential threats is best.
Citizens carrying firearms are recommended to secure their firearm in a holster with at least one retention feature, and be familiar with methods to safely draw their firearm from the holster. Pocket, waistband, or other unsecured carry methods are not recommended.
Although Missouri law allows open carry of firearms, concealed carry can be more beneficial to protect firearms from threats, curious citizens, and children. Firearms left in vehicles should be locked in a secured location out of view.
Firearms are legitimately used for many purposes. Self-protection is a right extending well beyond the foundation of our nation. Hunting remains a very popular recreation shown to help balance wild animal populations. The shooting sports have seen an enormous surge in popularity in recent years.
Knowledge is the key to firearms safety. For more information, visit https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Gun-Safety-Keeping-Children-Safe.aspx
Sgt. Aaron Evans is a Lee’s Summit Police Officer with the Special Operations Unit and Emergency Services Squad. He is a guest author for the Health Education Advisory Board — a mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates for community health.