It’s your gun and you own every bullet you fire. If you carry a gun for self-defense, you can’t slip up on the firearm safety rules — not even one time. I recently got wind of a story about a woman in Florida who was sentenced to 35 years in jail because she pulled out her gun when she didn’t really need to and fired it unintentionally while frightened.

The story includes many of the classic reasons for getting a gun for self-defense: domestic violence, ongoing threats and a difficult break-up. While the woman may have rightly been afraid of the situation, she was not in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm when she pulled out her gun. When she unintentionally fired it, things got worse. When the person she feared was injured as a result of her actions, things got much worse.

If you carry a gun, get training. Follow the safety rules. Get more training. You will be held accountable for your actions with that gun. So if you do something, even unintentionally, that causes harm when you have no right to cause harm, you can count on facing the court. Combine your mistake with an over-zealous prosecutor, and you could end up in jail for a very long time.

Trigger-Finger Discipline

If there is one thing you must remember at all times: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. There is much more to gun safety than that, but that is one rule you must never break — not ever. Doing so can cost you everything.

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