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So You Bought a Gun… Now What?

Owning a gun is empowering and increases your confidence in your own safety.

Photo by Go Blue 42 Agency

With uncertainty in nearly all aspects of life running rampant through society, gun sales have skyrocketed over the past four months. In March alone, approximately two million guns were sold.

There has never been a better or more important time to educate yourself on firearms ownership. 

Owning a gun is a big responsibility, but it is a beautiful and important one. Fortunately, we live in a nation where our right to “keep and bear arms” is more or less protected. However, most Americans do not realize that there are tens of thousands of active pieces of firearms legislation on the books that are filled with ridiculous and expansive language, making them almost impossible to understand.

Though it is not realistic to think that everyone in our country knows all of these laws inside and out, it is imperative that you have resources available to expand your knowledge. 

After all, as a gun owner, it is your duty to know and abide by those laws.

Four Rules of Firearms Safety

There are four rules of firearm safety that are the very basic knowledge everyone who comes into contact with a firearm should have. They are the foundation by which all other training is built.

Though often overlooked as cliche, and even abandoned as comfortability with guns increases, gun owners must keep these axioms at the forefront of our practice and education.

  1. Always treat your firearm as if it is loaded.
  2. Never point your firearm at anything that you are not willing to destroy. 
  3. Keep your finger off of the trigger until your sights are on your target and you are ready and willing to fire. 
  4. Know your target and what lies beyond it. 

Purchasing

As a first time gun owner, you need to know that most states require you to purchase a firearm through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) that will run a background check and have you fill out an ATF Form 4473. This ensures that you are legally able to purchase and own the firearm under state and federal law. However in certain states you can conduct a private transfer between individuals that both reside in the state, and there is no law requiring a background check. The United States Concealed Carry Association has quick, at a glance resources on a state by state basis for these laws. 

Oftentimes when you walk into a gun shop, especially if you are not familiar with firearms, there will be a multitude of opinions on what you should buy and why you should buy it.

Certain guns may work for and feel comfortable to a 200 pound, 6’4″ male; but that same gun will feel very different in the hands of a 130 pound, 5’3” female.

It is so incredibly important to find a firearm that fits you as an individual. This is why, if possible, a new gun owner should visit more than one firearms shop or sporting goods store prior to making a purchase to ensure that you are getting the very best fit for you. 

Training

If you are going to invest heavily in any aspect of the gun ownership process, make it training.

While the specific training requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit vary by state, it is needed regardless of where you live. Constitutionally, training is never mentioned as a requirement; but we are called on to be “well regulated,” which historically means “well trained.”

It is imperative that you invest in yourself and your ability to use the tools that you have put hard earned money into. Training is a long term investment that allows for expanding your knowledge, but also personalizing your shooting level with the effort that you put in. 

For good training resources, I highly recommend Lucas Botkin from T.Rex Arms or Amy.556 from 556.Training Lab. Both are great programs capable of helping a new gun owner learn the basics and can carry one through to an advanced level of shooting. 

The most important axiom for training is to set ego aside.It is so easy to slip into patterns of egotistical behavior and thinking that you know everything you could possibly need to know about firearms.

This being said, do not mistake ego for self-confidence. When shooting and learning, it is great to be confident and strong in your actions and manipulations of the firearm you are training with. 

Many people are not able to invest in firearms because it comes with a great expense, especially if you are training regularly. To continue improving and honing your skills while working on a budget: dry fire. Dry firing is the action of removing all ammunition (double and triple check always) to practicing sight alignment, trigger press, draw times, and more while manipulating a completely unloaded firearm.

As a professional competition shooter, I still dry fire on the range and at home to improve my skills. There are small printable targets that you can tape to your wall or simply use a light switch or door knob.

Do not feel that you have to invest in thousands of rounds of ammo at the very beginning of your training journey—especially if you know that you cannot afford to do so. Maximize your training and be efficient in your learning patterns. 

Laws and Legislation

Whether you are a new gun owner or someone who has owned guns all of their life, it is imperative to keep up with laws and legislation in your state. To keep up with legislation, the United States Concealed Carry Association has quick and easy information for different states. 

In addition to being tasked with the responsibility of following the laws in your area, you must also stay informed when you travel.

This is where a lot of people trip up: when traveling with firearms, you cannot use living a different state as an excuse for being misinformed or ignorant of laws in the area you are traveling to. While the laws in place may be severely unconstitutional, it is still your responsibility to know and follow them as a law abiding citizen.

There are nuances and small details within these laws that can be confusing. For extra clarification, find someone in the area in question to shed some light on the situation. This could be a Law Enforcement agency or local legislator’s office.

View this post on Instagram

I have seen a video blow up of a couple in St. Louis standing outside of their home with the intent of protecting their property when protesters were going by. I am a HUGE proponent of self and property defense. But the video made me uncomfortable for these reasons: 1) The woman was pointing her gun at protesters with her finger on the trigger. 2) While pointing her firearm, she was not maintaining a grip that would have allowed for accurate, responsible discharge. The loose grip that she was using actually would be more likely to result in a negligent discharge. 3) When walking behind her husband, the woman pointed the firearm at the back of his head, finger on the trigger, with a loose incredibly limp grip that could have put him in danger. 4) The issue presents itself when there is irresponsible handling from the beginning and they continue to engage with the protesters rather than de-escalating the situation and potentially remaining in their home, but ready if a direct threat to their home or persons had been posed. This just goes to show the importance of training and being knowledgeable about the use of firearms and the laws that are in your area. We need to change our culture to normalize firearms education, safety, and the ability to defend yourself, but doing so in a responsible way that doesn’t further escalate potentially dangerous situations. I believe that training is the personal responsibility of a firearms owner. It should not be a requirement to own or carry, but we should all be motivated and motivate each other to be responsible and know how to use the tools that we own. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts. Drop them in the comments below. *Video located in story if you have not seen.* #firearmssafety #educate #education #learn #grow #selfdefense #personaldefense #guns #gun #stlouis #protest #protect #property #train #laws #normalize #training #opinion #thoughts #Constitution

A post shared by Beth Walker (@3gunbeth) on

Ownership Responsibilities 

In addition to becoming familiar and skilled with your firearm(s) and educating yourself on the law, there are other some important boxes to check.

When purchasing a firearm, ensure that you have a method to store the gun. Whether this is a small lockbox, safe, hard-sided locked case, or something else; it is imperative that you choose to store it in a way that ensures your safety and the safety of those around you.

Safe storage is something that is especially needed when you invite people into your home that may be unfamiliar with firearms. There are many people that do not grow up in firearm friendly homes and have never been educated on safely handling them. 

Educating your family is also an essential step to take when owning firearms. The people that live with you need to be aware of how to use and to be safe with the tool that is in your home. This starts with the rules of firearms safety and extends to the responsibility of going to the range and training. Many people overlook the steps of ongoing training and returning to the basics of safety rules. Reviewing and relearning the fundamentals is vital to progression with training and comfortability with your firearm. 

Owning a gun is empowering and increases your confidence in your own safety. It ensures that you are able to be your own first responder in a time of unsure events and increasingly dangerous everyday life. Take your safety into your own hands. Being prepared and trained for the unthinkable will always outweigh being caught unprepared in a crisis.

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