I'm not much of a social person anymore (by choice), but I do talk with other gunnies. I'm always looking to learn, and those around me are great places to look for knowledge.
One discussion really stands out in my head; I was talking to this guy about the proper ceasefire procedures at the range, and in the course of his response, he referred to my Bersa as a "weapon". It really caught me off guard. I mean, I know its a weapon. Everyone knows this. Duh. Its a gun, a tool made for one specific purpose. But it was then that the realization that I now owned a deadly weapon kinda hit me. A weapon. Oh yeah.
As it is a weapon, I decided nice and early to have a set of SOP's for dealing with it. I present them to you for your edification and potential additions:
1. Never ever leave the gun out thinking you'll store it securely later. The gun goes into the safe when you don't have it explicitly on you. Back then I didn't have my conceal carry permit, so it was mainly in the safe.
2. Learn and live the 4 rules. Really. Seriously.
3. Practice enough to be competent. Know it like the back of your hand, and you'll make less mistakes.
I've followed these to a T since day one. Owning a gun is a huge responsibility and I intend to take its seriously.
It really pisses me off every time someone forwards me an accidental death news story because its just an example of some idiot not defining and living by the proper operating procedures for having a deadly weapon.
Frankly, as I mentioned earlier, my Grandpa (NRA life member, staunch gun supporter) was not being responsible with his guns when I was a kid staying with them. He didn't do much to teach me to handle them safely, he didn't store them safely and this is a problem. 7 year olds should not have unrestricted access to a gun cabinet. Regardless.
My Dad did no better either.
Every time some kid gets into his dads nightstand and shoots a friend, a bit more weight of the world shifts onto the shoulders of responsible gun owners. Every time some moron gets lazy or flippant with his/her weapon, the rest of us lose a little bit. The anti-gun crowd, to which I was once a full fledged member, sees these stories and it just reinforces their mindset - guns are owned by redneck morons who can't rub two brain cells together.
They learn to vilify the irresponsible and the tool too. They animate the tool because the owner wasn't. There is lots of blame to go round when an accident happens, and in then end that is how "sensible gun laws" come about. The reasoning is simple: if you can't manage to put your gun away from the 5 year olds, we'll do it for you.
So please, if you have not defined a rigid set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) for your weapons, do it now. Learn it, follow it and be rigid as hell about it. Take care of your guns. Respect them. Store them safely. If it isn't on your immediate person, it should probably be put away. That, my friends, is common sense.
I'm proud to say that I've never made the mistake (so far) of leaving my gun out of its safe by accident. I adhere to those rules every time. No variations. No exceptions. I realize accidents do happen, so being cognizant of everything you do with a weapon is a must.
Double and triple check. If you don't, you do the rest of us a huge disservice.