Don't forget the 3 basic rules of gun safety

With the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide protests, and riots in the news, gun sales in the U.S. are skyrocketing.

Background checks for gun sales set a new all-time record in June, 2020, for the most checks in a single month. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 3.9 million checks. That's a massive 70 percent increase over June of last year. And this broke the record-setting 2.7 million checks reported in March.

So far this year, the FBI has recorded 19 million background checks, which is more than were recorded in the entire first 14 years of the system, which began operation in 1998. This surge suggests that by the end of the year, checks may surpass last year's record of 28 million.

According to reports from gun stores around the county, the spike includes millions of new gun owners. So now is a good time to yet again review the 3 basic rules of gun safety:

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off, it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle (front end of the barrel) is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.

ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When holding a gun, rest your finger straight out on the side of the firearm as far from the trigger as possible. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.

ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device, if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber, which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber, leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.

It's important to observe ALL of these rules simultaneously. That's because they offer overlapping, fail-safe protection. If you accidentally violate one rule, the two other rules can prevent tragedy.

You're never too old or experienced for gun safety. So repeat these rules to yourself and teach them to others.