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Firearm Safety

WARNING: Blanks can kill. We strongly advise that any person handling theatrical firearms should be trained in the use of firearms. Check the yellow pages for shooting ranges or gun clubs in your area where suitable training can be obtained. Among other precautions, the following should always be observed in dealing with firearms:

  1. Never load any firearm until you are actually ready to use it. Once loaded a firearm should never be cocked or readied for discharge until it is actually called for on the set.
  2. Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot, whether the gun is loaded or unloaded.
  3. Do not interchange blanks. Use only the appropriate blanks for the particular firearm you are handling.
  4. Maintain a distance of at least 20 feet between the muzzle of a firearm and any object or person being fired upon. If you must fire at an actor within this distance, cheat the action by aiming slightly off to one side so that no one is in the direct line of fire.
  5. Wait 15 seconds after a misfire before ejecting or clearing the unfired blank from the firearm. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction during this waiting period as well as when clearing the unfired blank and loading a fresh one.
  6. Keep the trigger finger outside the trigger guard of the gun until it is actually to be fired. Immediately after firing, the safety should be engaged, if applicable. After a gun has been fired, always secure it from the performers and check that it is empty; if not, unload the weapon.
  7. Clean the firearms after every use. Leaving them uncleaned for even short periods can be dangerous and cause serious damage. You will be charged between $35 and $65 for every firearm returned unclean. You will also be charged for damage to the firearm due to improper maintenance.
  8. Protect your eyes and ears. Guns are noisy and hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or shooting ear protectors should be used whenever blanks are discharged, particularly in a confined space. When conventional hearing protection would be visible, actors can be protected by using wax or foam ear plugs. When possible use eye protection as well, especially with weapons that eject casings.
  9. Never have any live ammunition on the set. Some theatrical firearms can chamber live ammunition even though there is a restriction in the barrel. Others can chamber and fire live rounds.
  10. The use of a locking device or safety lock is only one aspect of responsible firearm storage. For increased safety firearms should be stored unloaded and locked in a location that is both separate from their ammunition and inaccessible to children and any other unauthorized person.

The following is a link to a Dramabiz magazine article on gun safety: