Owning a firearm is a major responsibility that comes with many challenges. In the United States, there are an estimated 393 million civilian-owned firearms, underscoring the prevalence of gun ownership in the country. However, statistics show that 4.6 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms, highlighting the need for proper education and training among firearm owners. A lack of knowledge about safe handling and storage can lead to dangerous accidents and misuse. That is why it is crucial for all new and experienced firearm owners to understand some key aspects of responsible ownership.
In Texas alone, over 3.6 percent of the state’s population has an active license to carry, making it one of the states with the highest rates of concealed carry permit holders. With the rising rates of gun ownership across America, every firearm owner must equip themselves with the right information to exercise their Second Amendment rights responsibly.
Let’s discuss some crucial things every firearm owner must know to purchase, handle, store, and use their weapons safely.
1. Be Informed on Local and Federal Gun Laws
The first step to responsible firearm ownership is staying current on relevant local, state, and federal laws and regulations. For example, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) mandates that licensed Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) maintain proper acquisition and disposition records in ATF-approved Bound Books.
For those unfamiliar, ATF Bound Books are essential record-keeping tools that help track the movement and sale of firearms in compliance with federal regulations. Understanding such requirements keeps you on the right side of the law. Stay engaged on legislative changes and your duty to comply as laws evolve.
2. Learn Firearm Safety Basics
Firearm owners should prioritize safety and enroll in training like hunter safety or basic pistol courses. Even experienced shooters can benefit from brushing up on the core rules of firearm safety.
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Never point a firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
- Know your target, its surroundings, and what lies beyond it.
- Store guns unloaded and locked.
Following these simple guidelines can prevent dangerous mishaps.
3. Research Different Types of Firearms
With so many options on the market, it is wise to learn about the diversity of guns available today. Research the pros and cons of pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and other firearm types. Consider your intended uses – home defense, concealed carry, hunting, target practice, etc. – and choose an appropriate model. An informed buyer can select a firearm that suits their needs and experience.
4. Practice Regularly
Visit shooting ranges weekly or monthly to build and maintain proficiency. An untrained firearm owner can be a danger to themselves and others. Develop muscle memory and reflexes that could save your life in self-defense. Work on firing accurately under pressure. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be in handling your weapon.
5. Learn Proper Cleaning and Maintenance
Firearms require regular cleaning and maintenance to remain in optimal condition. A dirty, corroded gun can malfunction or become damaged over time. Take the time to disassemble your gun and clean all components thoroughly. Lubricate moving parts to prevent friction. Inspect for worn parts and replace them as needed.
6. Store Your Firearm Securely
When not in use, firearms must be stored in a secure manner. Use a gun safe or lockbox designed to keep guns away from unauthorized access. Store ammunition separately. Never leave a loaded gun unattended. Follow any local regulations regarding safe storage to prevent theft and accidents.
7. Purchase a Quality Gun Safe
A major responsibility with firearm ownership is investing in a high-quality gun safe to store your weapons when not in use. Look for safes with sturdy exteriors, preferably 10-gauge steel construction. Ensure it has a reliable locking system, preferably biometric or combination locks. The safe should meet or exceed ATF standards. Bolt it to the floor for added security. Safely storing your firearms protects your investment and keeps guns secure.
8. Learn About Ammunition Types
With many calibers and loads available, ammunition can be confusing. Read up on different bullet types, weights, and powder charges. Match your ammo correctly to your firearm. Understand the ballistic differences between loads for varied applications. Proper ammunition selection will improve performance and accuracy. It also prevents potential damage from using the wrong rounds. Consult the firearm’s manual or a knowledgeable retailer to pick suitable ammo.
9. Handle Your Firearm Safely
Mishandling firearms can lead to injury or death. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger when not firing. Avoid dropping your firearm. If you fall while hunting, point the muzzle away from you. When cleaning, ensure the gun is unloaded. During transport, use a case and avoid exposing the firearm unnecessarily.
Following safe handling procedures at all times will help prevent negligence.
10. Consider Taking a Firearm Safety Course
While self-education is important, formal firearms training provides invaluable hands-on practice under expert supervision. Look into courses offered in your area that allow you to handle weapons safely. Programs like the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course teach fundamental skills. Other specialized classes cover topics like home defense, concealed carry, defensive shooting, and more. Professional instruction reinforces proper techniques. It also qualifies you for certifications or carry permits in some states.
11. Be Aware of Local Firearm Ranges and Retailers
An essential resource for any gun owner is having access to local shooting ranges and firearms retailers. Identify reputable local gun stores that offer fair prices and helpful service. Visit ranges that provide firearm rentals to test different guns before buying.
Exercising your right to bear arms comes with a duty to do so safely and legally. This begins with expanding your knowledge as an owner. Approach firearms with care, caution, and respect. Adopt responsible habits around handling, storage, and use. Make safety your top priority, not just for yourself but for your family and community. An informed, trained firearm owner promotes the lawful, prudent use of guns in society.