I’m told that shooting oneself in the foot is a bad idea. I suppose so. I’ve never tried it, although I have been around more than my share of negligent firearm discharges.
There are four very simple rules which will make a negligent discharge unlikely.
1. All firearms are always handled as if they are loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle of a firearm at anything you are unwilling to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are aligned on the target.
4. Be sure of your target.
Those rules are simple, and following them will keep you from negligently shooting yourself or any one or thing else. The rules and laws governing who can have a gun and under what circumstances are more complicated, and failure to attend to those rules can also be quite painful.
Here in Maryland, for instance, for almost 20 years we have had strict controls on the transfers of certain kinds of rifles and magazines. Here’s how that affects me.
I have a collector’s item WWII vintage M1 Carbine made by National Postal Meter. It isn’t on any of the state no-no lists, at least not yet. However, the 30-round magazines commonly used with M1 Carbines are restricted in that they cannot be transferred to another individual in Maryland. So if I take my Carbine to the range, I can shoot it using one of my old 30-round magazines, but if I allow someone else to shoot it (lending it is a transfer), they must use a 15-round magazine because I can’t transfer the 30-round magazine to them.
I also have a Colt AR15 Sporter Carbine. It doesn’t use the usual .223 Remington/5.56 mm NATO ammunition; it’s chambered for 7.62 X 39 mm Russian round that is legal for deer hunting in Maryland. The only magazines I have for it are the 5-round units provided by Colt. Since an AR15 is regulated firearm, I can’t just hand it to whomever I wish. So-called “gratuitous” temporary loans are OK, but anyone other than a family member, close friend, or licensed dealer can be risky. All transfers are supposed to go through a licensed dealer. However, the 5-round magazines have no restrictions whatsoever.
This is what happens when laws are cobbled together by people who have little understanding of what they are trying to regulate. When I was a federally licensed dealer a couple of decades ago, there were over 20,000 federal, state, and local gun laws in the book that the ATF sent me, some of them contradictory. There are more of ’em now.