WASHINGTON - Many Sailors handle guns daily, often in the conduct of their jobs or duties. Strict rules put in place by the Navy for the handling, loading and discharge of firearms should not only be followed on duty, but anytime a firearm is in your hands.

Guns are powerful tools in the right hands. They give many a sense of security to own them. However, too often, they can be a deadly accident waiting to happen.

Many Sailors handle guns daily, often in the conduct of their jobs or duties. Strict rules put in place by the Navy for the handling, loading and discharge of firearms should not only be followed on duty, but anytime a firearm is in your hands.

Observing the same strict Navy gun handling rules the Navy teaches for your personal firearms is a good place to start, because it only takes a small lapse in safety for an accident with life-threatening consequences to happen.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 77 percent of accidental deaths from handling firearms happen in the home. In addition, Accidental gun deaths occur mainly to those under 25 years old.

One reason for that, experts say is that adolescents are particularly susceptible to accidental shootings because their behavior is impulsivity, feelings of invincibility, and curiosity about firearms.

The Navy realizes that many Sailors have personal firearms for hunting or target shooting.

Many Navy Bases allow Sailors to store their personal firearms in base armories on a space available basis. This is a good option for both officers and enlisted who live on base in unaccompanied housing as it's unauthorized to store any weapons in these facilities.

Family housing has different rules. Personal firearms can be stored in military housing units, provided they are unloaded and stored in locked gun containers or racks.

Another option is for the weapon to be secured by a gun lock that either secures the trigger, or a chamfer-style lock that prevents loading the weapon. Ammunition must be stored in a separate locked container.

In all cases, any guns and ammunition must be inaccessible to minors.

Most bases have their own instructions that deal with personal firearms and outline procedures for properly taking weapons on and off base as well as stowage in base armories or in housing units.

If you have questions, your local base security is a good place to start.

For those who live off base, taking simple precautions such as following the base housing rules can help eliminate gun related accidents.

It’s important to understand the power guns have and how to handle them with care and respect.

Always be treat a gun as though it’s loaded and never point a gun at a person if you believe it to be unloaded. Loaded or not, when handling a firearm, keep your finger off the trigger.

Don’t rely on the gun’s safety mechanism. Sure, it's there to protect against accidents, however, even with the safety on, you should handle any weapon as though it can fire at any time.

Ensure all adults in your household know how to safely handle firearms. It doesn't hurt to take a commercial weapons training course. In these classes, the safest ways to store, clean and use a weapon are taught.

In addition, never allow children to handle weapons. That's why it's important to eliminate the temptation by keeping all guns locked up and out of reach. Keeping a gun out of the hands of those not trained to operate it is the best way to prevent accidental gun deaths.

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Connecticut Media Group