If "guns are always loaded", how are we supposed to get them "unloaded" in order to clean them or perform other types of maintenance? How do you make sure that a semi-automatic pistol is properly unloaded, can't those things shoot even without a magazine inserted?
The answer is simple, follow the six-step unloading process outlined below:
The first step to unloading a semi-automatic is to remove the source of the ammunition. If you forget this step, none of the others will matter, because your firearm will remain loaded.
2) Rack The Slide
You should expect that there is a live round in the chamber of your firearm. Racking the slide will should eject any round that is in the chamber.
3) Rack The Slide THREE MORE Times
Yes, theoretically you just ejected the live round from the chamber. But what if it didn't properly eject? Even more important, what if you forgot the first step? Racking the slide three additional times is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to assist your unloading process.
4) Lock The Slide Open
This step helps you to not only empty the chamber, but to make sure that nothing else is entering it. More importantly, you need to lock the slide open to perform the next two steps.
5) Visual Inspection
You want to look inside of the firearm to make sure you cannot see any rounds or obstructions. You should be looking down two different planes; top view through the chamber and magazine well, and rear view through the chamber and barrel.
The same areas that you just viewed with your eyes, yeah, let's go back and check them with our little finger. You now want to check the chamber through the magazine well, and from the chamber into the barrel. Make sure you do not feel any foreign objects or rounds.
The six steps listed above are purposely redundant in nature. If you've never made a human error and you're willing to bet your life and the lives of your loved ones around you on the fact that you won't ever make an error... go ahead, shortcut the steps.
In my classes I demonstrate these six steps in a slow, methodical manner, as somebody times me. Even talking through each step as I perform it, it takes on average 10 seconds to do a proper unload. If you are in such a hurry in life that you need to cut that time in half by short-cutting safety measures, then you probably don't have the time to practice with your firearm either. If this is the case, I suggest you get rid of your firearm and hire a personal bodyguard. You clearly don't have time to invest in your personal safety plan.