So, you're thinking of buying your first gun? First, let me congratulate you on either starting or continuing on your path to being self-reliant. Second, let me applaud you ahead of time for being a responsible gun owner and human since you are taking the time to read this post. Not many people take the time to do their homework prior to purchasing a firearm and I believe it's a crucial step in being a responsible gun owner.
Deciding that you want to be a gun owner is a big decision but it’s also very exciting. When deciding to purchase your first firearm there can be a lot of areas to consider. For discussion sake, I’m going to assume that you want to buy a gun for self-defense. One of the first things you should ask yourself though is, "Am I Ready?" Ready for what exactly?! Are you ready to commit to the training and continuing to learn to keep your skillset fresh? More importantly, are you ready to potentially end someone else’s life to protect and defend yourself and your family? Are you ready mentally and physically? Are you ready financially to commit to the costs of training and associated equipment?
Let's dive deeper into these questions and a few others areas that require careful consideration when deciding on whether to purchase a firearm.
- Lifelong Commitment. Becoming a responsible gun owner is a lifelong commitment. It takes time, action, and money. I highly encourage you to invest your time, action, and money into quality training with your firearm. Which means you might need to forego that pair of shoes that are currently on-sale or skip that daily latte (#FirstWorldProblems). As you’ll come to find out not only does the training come with a monetary cost but you’ll also have other expenses like range fees, ammo, extra mags, targets, and other necessary range gear. Being well trained will make you a more effective shooter by identifying areas that need improvement and then acquiring those skills. As a first time gun owner or even a potential new gun owner, signing up for a basic introduction class is a great start. For more experienced gun owners you might look for training to increase the speed of your follow up shots or introducing movement into your drills. This is a lifetime commitment because, unfortunately, these are perishable skills. It’s also important for shooters of all levels to always identify new areas of development, getting the training to learn those skills, and maintaining those skills as you practice during your range time.
- Mental & Physical Preparedness. Are you ready to end someone's life to defend yourself or your family? If a situation arises and you have to draw your gun, do you think you will be able to maintain a level-head and be confident to make decisions in a stressful situation? My immediate response to this was "no" because no one can predict when a life threatening situation is going to happen or how it will happen. But you can be prepared. This is why training is so important. As you go through your firearm training, there are defensive-shooting classes that offer up real-life scenarios that you can train for so you can try to keep your mind and skills sharp under duress. On another note, do you have any moral or religious beliefs that prevent you from protecting and defending yourself or your family's safety by any means necessary? Additionally, are you physically capable of defending yourself and your family's safety? For instance, you might have a physical need that requires you to use crutches or a walking boot or maybe you aren't as physically fit as you would like to be. These types of physical limitations need to be considered so you can train to accommodate your needs.
- Local Laws. Believe it or not, owning a gun isn’t as easy as just going out and buying one – at least for many states. Do your research and know what your state laws are when it comes to gun ownership for personal protection. While you might think all states should recognize gun ownership equally because of the second amendment; unfortunately they don’t. Some states require each gun to be registered. If you decide to carry on your person some states may require additional training and registration. There are even some states where you can be arrested if you are caught with a round of ammo or empty shell casing on your person. That can easily happen coming back from the range. So it’s important to understand the laws and be ready to abide by them so you don’t end up in jail.
- Personal Obligations. We all want more time in our day but finding the hours isn't always easy. You’ll need to balance practice and training with competing priorities like your job, family needs, the gym, and other hobbies. My summer goal was to get to the range once a week. Between planned vacations, a water leak in my house, and a sick cat I unfortunately didn’t meet that goal. While it was at the forefront of my mind each week I didn't go, sometimes life just gets in the way. It’s hard to cut through all of the distractions so don’t feel too bad if you sometimes miss some range time. What’s important is that you do get to the range on a regular basis and train at a pace and level that is comfortable and fun for you. If you can't get to the range, perform some dry-fire drills at home, watch some YouTube videos that teach drawing or other techniques that you can practice safely with an unloaded gun in your home. Even if it's just for 15 minutes, that's an easier task than going to the range. The last thing you want is the range to feel like a chore and not be a fun learning experience.
- Family Safety & Storage. If you decide to own a gun, it is your responsibility to ensure it's stored safely and securely. Where and how will you store the gun when you're not using it? Do you have curious children? Whether you plan to bring your family members into shooting, everyone should know what to do if they come across a firearm. Introducing them to shooting and starting with the basics is a great way to get them familiarized with guns so they know how to properly handle them. Additionally, one area you may not realize when owning a gun is the amount of extra tools and equipment that is required. You'll want to think about where you are going to store your range gear, ammo, cleaning supplies, and your actual gun.
- Social Response. Finally, be prepared to lose friends or be “that gun person” in your social or family circle. People are very passionate on their views towards guns. It might sound silly that exercising your second amendment right would come between two smart people but it happens. Your friend might now feel different around you because you’re armed. Or your mom friends may not want their kids coming over anymore no matter how secured or locked up your gun is. For me, I try to make it a teaching moment to help my non-2A friends understand my views and beliefs. The goal isn't to make them switch sides but give them a foundation and understanding of where I'm coming from. If your friends or family members are more open to the idea then take them shooting. You can show them how to safely handle a gun and they can make a decision for themselves if it's something they might be open too. If all else fails you can count on the 2A community welcoming you with open arms. We are a large and diverse group of women (and men) that support each other and also welcome new shooters. Your local range might even have a ladies night where you can not only meet other female shooters but also train and learn new techniques.
When I decided to purchase my first handgun it was a defining moment for me. I have embraced the self-reliant lifestyle and have been welcomed into the 2A community by so many strong and awesome ladies. I hope that by sharing my experiences that you may make your own informed decisions. If firearms aren’t for you, that doesn’t mean you can't be self-reliant, there are many non-lethal self-defense tools available for you to use.