There has been a lot of media attention around gun violence and the right to own a firearm. This is an important topic that many Americans are weighing in on, as well as the local, state, and federal governments.

If you own a firearm in Wisconsin, you are definitely not alone. In fact, Wisconsin gun ownership is at nearly 35 percent. So what can you do to stay safe and keep others safe if you do own a firearm? Safety and knowing what you can and cannot do with a firearm is critical.

Not only are you being a responsible gun owner by having this knowledge, but also keeping yourself safe from a Wisconsin firearm offense. “Firearm offenses are taken very seriously in Wisconsin. The laws are strict, and the penalties can be severe and life-altering,” Milwaukee law firm Hart Powell, SC explained. “Even seemingly small offenses can permanently impact your future.”

Let’s take a closer look at ten firearm safety tips you should definitely know for real gun safety.

1. Keep your firearm unloaded when not being used

This is critical, because when you or someone else picks up your firearm, you want to ensure that it is not loaded since this is when most accidents happen. Even if you know your firearm is unloaded, always handle the weapon as if it is. This means pointing it in a safe direction.

2. Keep your firearm under lock and key

One of the biggest safety tips for gun owners is storing and locking up firearms. You should always store your firearm in a vault or secure storage case that can be locked and not opened easily without a key. Where the vault or storage case is should also be under lock and key and out of the reach of children.

One great way to ensure no one can access your firearm besides you is a fingerprint locking mechanism. You should also keep your ammunition locked up separately from your firearm for added security and safety.

3. Keep the muzzle down

When handling your firearm, or someone else’s firearm, ensure you maintain proper muzzle control. This means keeping the muzzle of the firearm pointed down and only raising it when threatened or when shooting. Handling a firearm improperly is a sure fire way to cause unintended injury. Muzzle down for safety!

4. Keep your finger off the trigger

When handling your firearm, keep your trigger finger to the side of the weapon. The only time your finger should be on the trigger is when you intend to fire your gun. The proper method is to keep your finger off the trigger until the weapon is raised to shoot, then you engage the trigger. Once done firing, release the trigger and place it back to the side of your firearm.

5. Know how to load and unload your firearm

A lot of accidental discharges happen due to improper loading and unloading. A firearm owner should know how to operate their weapon almost mechanically. This includes proper loading of ammunition, unloading ammunition and checking the chamber for a round, and disassembling a firearm for maintenance. You should do maintenance on your firearm after every use to ensure nothing will impede operation, which can cause injury.

6. Use a trigger lock mechanism

Going the extra mile is critical for safety when it comes to owning a firearm. You should always keep your gun under lock and key, but you can also purchase and use a trigger locking mechanism. It is like “The Club” for your firearm. This is an extra safety measure that impedes the ability of someone other than yourself to use the weapon.

7. Keep your firearm out of the reach and sight of children

This is the most important firearm safety tip. Children and young adults do not know the severity of injury that can be caused by handling a firearm improperly. The maturity level needed to own and operate a weapon is for adults.

If you have young children, you should keep your gun out of sight and far from reach. If you have young adults in your home, discuss the safety of a firearm and the consequences if handled improperly. Education about firearms is vital to keeping those in your home safe.

In conclusion . . .

There is certainly a lot of debate about firearm ownership and use today. But if you choose to own a firearm in Wisconsin, ensure you are a gun owner that is responsible and thinking about safety every step of the way. Even the smallest mistake can cost your life, or the life of someone else. What safety tips do you have for firearm owners?