The decision to purchase a firearm is a complex and personal one. Many Americans make use of their second amendment right to own a gun, because they either enjoy the hobby of shooting, or they feel more protected with a weapon in their home. Either way, if you own a gun, you take on the responsibility of ensuring your family's safety around that weapon. Learning the rules of gun safety, and understanding the most common mistakes that new firearm owners make is crucial to defending yourself, and reducing the risk of avoidable accidents. Here, we'll examine the 6 most commonly-made gun safety mistakes, so that you can become a more responsible gun owner.

1. Not Handling the Gun Properly

Checking the safety on your gun is a fundamental part of gun safety. The golden rule of gun handling is that we should always treat a firearm as though it's loaded. As soon as you pick up a gun, you should check the cylinder or chamber. Though your children should never handle the weapon, they should understand its dangers, and why they're not permitted to access it. Children are curious creatures, so it's important they don't attempt to seek out the weapon without your permission. If they do find and pick up your weapon, and the safety isn’t on, this can quickly lead to a tragic accident.

2. Not Getting the Right Training

Owning a gun is only beneficial if you know how to properly and safely use that weapon. The correct training can ensure that you are well-equipped to use your gun when you need to. After all, it's no good simply having the gun locked away in your gun safe if you can't use it when the opportunity arises. There are various gun facilities in the U.S. that offer safety courses and education, so make sure you learn as much as you can about the weapon you purchase. That includes not only how to use it, but how to clean and maintain the equipment too.

3. Not Using a Gun Safe

Guns are potentially lethal weapons. In the wrong hands, a gun can easily kill another person, simply because of a mistake or an accident. From the moment you purchase a gun, it's crucial to ensure that you have a place you can store it so that it’s out of the sight and reach of burglars, children, and unauthorized users. Simply keeping your gun on top of a cabinet may not be enough to keep it out of the hands of inquisitive family members. A gun safe is specifically designed to keep your firearm protected, and to ensure that your family remains secure even if there is a potentially deadly weapon in the home. Some experts go so far as to recommend using bolt or trigger locks to further protect your gun when it's locked inside your safe.

4. Not Picking the Right Gun or Ammunition

A gun is a major purchase, so it's worth doing some research. Visit a range and try out different equipment and investigate different models until you find something that suits your specific needs. Don’t just jump into purchasing any kind of gun. Instead, take the time to find something that's right for you. It’s also important to remember that you will need a certain type of ammunition for your weapon. Having the correct ammo ensures that you're prepared to use the gun as soon as you need to without encountering any problems.

5. Not Being Careful with the Trigger

Knowing how to use a gun safely means treating the firearm with respect. A lot of new gun owners move their gun around without thinking about it, but it's important to remember that a slip of the finger can potentially lead to a loss of life. You should keep your finger off the trigger unless you're willing to kill something or someone. Make sure you know where you're pointing your gun at all times to avoid any accidental mistakes that could lead to heartache. Becoming ever aware of the barrel, even when you're not planning on pulling the trigger, is a good habit to develop.

6. Not Knowing the Local Laws

Even though you have the right to own a gun, the rules and regulations in each state are different. Find out whether you need to have specific permits for the type of gun you own, and for carrying it around in public. You can find out all this information when you're registering your weapon. Though many gun owners don't support registration, it's important to remember that if you don't abide by the laws in your city or state, you could have your firearms confiscated, and receive jail time or severe fines.