ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Apparently, the 1960s Secret Service had a severe problem with this rule. If Bonar Menninger’s theory is correct (JFK was shot first by Oswald intentionally, then by a Secret Service agent accidentally), then this story illustrates why the first rule is the most important, followed by rule #2 (keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target). A telling excerpt:
The new president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had just rounded the corner, and Blaine had the gun pointed directly at the man’s chest. In the blackness of the night, Johnson’s face went completely white.
A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger …
He broke both rules right there. Remember, they are not suggestions.