Gun Safety Commandments:
Anyone who touches a firearm should know these by heart. If you own a firearm, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure anyone that TOUCHES it knows these rules by heart as well.
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
2. Never allow the muzzle to point at anything you are not willing to see destroyed.
3. Be sure of your target and know what lies behind it.
4. Keep your finger OFF THE TRIGGER until your sights are aligned on target.
5. Be sure your guns are never accessible to unauthorized or untrained individuals.
Other important safety rules to remember:
Alcohol & gunpowder don't mix -- Don't shoot or handle firearms after drinking or using psycho-active drugs.
Get training before shooting. NRA offers excellent training programs in most every community. www.nra.com
Learn & follow range rules for the location where you're shooting.
Wear hearing protection and safety glasses AT ALL TIMES.
Protection against yourself? You will need to deal with that on your own. If there is any doubt in your mind, don't have a firearm around.
Protection against others. Learn the laws of your country and state regarding keeping and carrying a firearm. The NRA site has resources for that.
There is a fundamental question that you must clearly ask yourself and ponder before getting a firearm for self defense:
Do I have the will to take another life?
If there is any doubt in your mind at all, you don't own a gun.
A famous line from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven comes to mind. "Hell of a thing, killing a man. You take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."
Please don't dismiss this with macho indifference. If you do not possess the will to take a man's life in defense of your own, that of a loved one or your property, that's OK....but don't keep a gun around. Be sure of this like your life depends on it. Those of us that have been in a life or death situation know that hesitation can cost you your life.
Also, despite what the law may say, if your life is in immiment danger shoot and shoot to kill. That means at least three well placed shots to vital areas. Practice this until you don't have to think about it, you just do it.
It's far better to defend your actions in a court of law than to be six feet under.
I've included an eclectic collection of links below for your furthur edification.
Lastly, find a local gun shop with a friendly owner and ask him as many questions as he will answer. Buy a few things and spend a little cash there every visit, even if he's more expensive than Wal-Mart. The advice you get from him is well worth the additional cost of keeping him in business.