With the current lawlessness in the country, Americans are buying guns in record numbers. In June alone the FBI recorded 3.9 million NICS checks. The NICS checks are the background checks run when you purchase a firearm through an FFL. For perspective, the 3.9 million NICS checks in June accounted for the most in any month since the system was implemented. So far through the first six months of 2020, we are at 19 million checks. The highest number of checks in a year was 28 million in 2019.
Sure, not all these checks mean a gun was purchased, but it is safe to say many guns are being sold. Many of these gun buyers are first-time gun owners. Because of that, we thought it would be important to provide some basic things every first-time gun owners should do.
1- Learn how the gun works. Reading manuals isn’t for everyone, but there is useful information in them. If you’re a visual learner, go to YouTube and search for your gun model. You are bound to find videos on how to clear, function check, disassemble, and reassemble your handgun. Most manufacturers have their own YouTube channels, and this would be the best place to look first.
2- Determine how you will store the gun. How you store the gun will be dictated by your circumstances. Do you live alone or have kids? Do you have someone who has a mental illness or is a felon living in your home? How is your house configured and where would be the best place to store the gun? Do you want it for quick access, or are you content with it not being accessible in an emergency? I’m sure you get the point.
Consider using a quick-access safe, either biometric or push button. The safe can be staged somewhere that gives you the best access to the firearm. If you haven’t bought your safe yet, consider locking it in the manufacturer’s case and using the included cable lock until you find a storage solution.
It’s 2021 and there are some cool alternatives to the traditional safe. These include concealment furniture and wall art that hide and secure firearms but don’t appear to be concealing a firearm.
3- Take a defensive firearms class. Even if your state doesn’t require concealed carry training, and even if you don’t plan on carrying concealed, an introductory course into concealed carry and the pertinent self-defense laws are beneficial. Finding a reputable instructor can be difficult, but trusting your training to the old dude who is always at the range isn’t the best option.
4- Continue learning. Don’t buy a gun, take a class, then banish your 9mm to the gun safe, never to be seen again. Chances are when you need to handle the gun again, you won’t be as proficient or safe as when you were in your class. There is a wealth of information, some good some bad, that can help you become a safe, prudent and responsible gun owner. Look online for reputable online courses, articles, and concealed carry podcasts.
Consider that firearm skills and safety are learned, and unused they will degrade. So make sure to practice on your own. Your time, budget, and goals will dictate how often you go to the range, but don’t neglect live fire. There are also some amazing ways to practice outside of a range. You can dry-fire, use laser training guns, or even shoot at indoor simulators that force you to make split-second decisions.
Owning a gun for the first time can be a daunting thing, and we hope this helps give you a starting point.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws.