If you plan to own a gun, it is critical that you learn properly handle and store it. Gun safety courses are offered in every state in the U.S. Some are geared to self-defense, others are geared to hunting safety. It is particularly important to learn and practice gun safety if you have children in your home.
1. Check the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) website for information on gun safety courses. The NRA is the largest gun owner membership organization in the country. It provides certification to firearm safety educators who then provide gun safety education at local shooting ranges in each of the 50 states. The NRA website includes descriptions of the courses and a lookup tool to help you locate courses in your area.
2. Contact your state’s Fish and Game department to find out about the hunter education courses and other gun safety courses they offer. Fish and Game hunter education courses are open to youths and adults ages 12 and up. The hunter education courses cover gun safety and handling as well as a host of outdoor survival skills and related topics. You can find a list of Fish and Game departments by state at by visiting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s website.
3. Locate a 4-H chapter in your area to find out if it offers youth gun safety and hunter education courses. Many 4-H chapters offer a program called Field and Stream, designed to teach youth and their parents about gun safety and hunter education. To find a 4-H chapter in your area, visit the 4-HUSA website (see Resources below) and use the 4-H State Weblinks drop-down menu to select your state.
4. Determine if police departments in your state offer firearm safety courses. Some offer elective gun safety courses to the general public. Others, such as Maryland, actually require any resident wishing to purchase a regulated firearm to take a gun safety course before they can purchase a gun. You can find out more information by contacting either your local police department or your state’s public safety department.