Rule #2...Never let your muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.
We know that it is important to exercise muzzle control anytime that we are handling firearms, always keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction. At the shooting range that means we should always have our gun muzzles oriented towards the backstop. In the hunting field we might be sure that the gun muzzle is pointed towards the ground or up in the air. But what about in the home when we are loading or unloading our defensive handgun?
Very Bad Things can happen anytime a gun goes off when we didn’t intend for it to. This is especially true in the home. Most handgun bullets can easily penetrate the walls, including the exterior walls, of the average house. There may be people in other rooms, or outside, who would certainly be in danger. Objects and property will very likely be damaged. Some folks might point their guns at the floor, walls or ceiling, but bullet holes in these things are not only unsightly, they can also lead to costly repairs.
One solution would be to purchase safety pads made of ballistic Kevlar, called H.O.T. pads, which are made by Safe Direction. These 12-inch by 12-inch pads can be placed anywhere with the gun muzzle pointed at them while you work with their firearm.
However, failing that, a person should consider pointing their gun muzzle at something in the house that will stop a bullet, but cause the least amount of damage. A bookshelf full of books would be one such item, if the angle is such that the bullet will impact, and stop in, a number of books.
In my own case, I wear a handgun virtually all day. In the evenings, as I undress for bed, I like to wipe my pistol off with an oily rag, let the hammer down, and put the gun on the nightstand. While doing this, I point the gun muzzle at the mattress. If I were to have a negligent discharge, the mattress and box springs would stop the bullet. I would certainly end up having to buy a new mattress, but there would be no damage to the structure of the house. More importantly, there would be no danger to myself or anyone else in the house.
I haven’t had to experience that, because I pay close attention to what I am doing anytime I handle a firearm. But none of us are immune from the potential of a negligent discharge. This is the reason that all responsible gun owners are continually preaching muzzle control. More importantly, we are also making a concerted effort to always practice good muzzle control.
When a person is handling a firearm in the home, he should always be aware of what the muzzle is covering. Will that object stop a bullet? Is the damage relatively easy to repair?
Look around your home and decide what would be the safest objects to point the gun at while loading or unloading. (And don’t forget those H.O.T. pads from Safe Direction!)