Always Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction

Always Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction


“Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction”

The history of safe gun handling rules cannot be thoroughly documented.

The first mention appears in a publication in 1902 by an English vinegar manufacture and part poet, Mark Hanbury Beaufoy who writes:

Never, never, let your gun
Pointed be at anyone”.

Following the history of the National Rifle Association (herein referred to as the NRA), the original goal in 1871 was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis”. In 1903 the NRA promoted shooting sports for America’s youth. The NRA maintains one simple rule is imperative:

Always Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction

Given the time period, it is unlikely, though possible, the NRA and Mr. Beaufoy collaborated on establishing this as the first rule for gun safety. It is possible one of the early founding fathers of the NRA read Mr. Beaufoy’s poem and determined rules for safe gun handling should be established. In any event, they both teach the same overwhelming principle which makes this the primary rule.

The statement: “ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction” protects the gun owner from an unintentional discharge. If the gun were to discharge, it would not cause injury or death to anyone. It sets the precedence the gun is loaded – without having to make such an obvious statement. Pointing the gun in a safe direction is simply common sense. If it is not common sense to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, it makes a strong argument that training should be mandatory before handling a gun.

Other iterations:

Over the years, others have came out with their own version of the same statement elaborating on what it means. It’s unclear if they felt gun owners were too ignorant to decipher the message and reasoning for always pointing a gun in a safe direction or if they simply felt they could coin a better phrase. The statements begin surfacing around 1948 where dumbing-down the primary rule appears to be a competition.

Treat every gun with the respect due a loaded gun” – Sporting Shooters Association of Australia. Est. 1948

All guns are always loaded” – Jeff Cooper, 1991

Assume every firearm is loaded” – Canadian Firearms Program, 2009

Always keep the muzzle in a safe direction” – Masad Ayoob, 2010

Treat every weapon as if it were loaded” – United States Marine Corps, no time reference

Always Assume the Gun is Loaded

Let’s assume the gun is loaded – now what? Do you stare at it? Wait for it to do something? Pick it up? What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you pick it up?

Point it in a safe direction!

What good is it to assume the gun is loaded and then point it in an unsafe direction?

 The Winner of the #1 Safety Rule –

ALWAYS Keep the Gun
Pointed in a Safe Direction

– National Rifle Association


There is no reason to simplify nor to elaborate on the statement  – it tells the average person who posses common sense, to always treat a gun as if it is loaded. It tells them not to point the gun at anything they do not intend to destroy, it tells them to always point the gun in a safe direction.

In the event of a careless or unintentional discharge nothing will be damaged. We see no reason to twist, turn, add, modify nor edit this basic rule.

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