Seems like everyday over the past few months I come across one or more posts on social media where somebody asks what kind of gun they should purchase for a first firearm. While that specific question has decreased in frequency a little bit, I’ve noticed another similar question has increased in frequency: “Should I buy a gun?” I suspect the decrease in the “what gun should I buy” question is because folks who were on the fence about gun ownership before the pandemic and before the protests decided to move forward with it. I assume the increase in the “should I buy a gun” question to more and more folks who wouldn’t have considered it are now rethinking their position and finding themselves on the fence for the first time.I could be wrong in my suspicions and assumptions, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve noticed these trends in these questions on social media.
I’ve suggested (and will continue to suggest) to folks asking “what gun should I purchase” question, read the beginner’s guide to the first firearm article, learn safe gun handling, and then to attempt to rent and try before they buy. Seems to me like that’s sound advice and several other readers seem to agree with it. However, this doesn’t really help people who are on the fence and are asking the “should I buy” question. So I’ll do my best to answer that, but I will start by noting the answer to that question is a bit complicated.
See the “should I buy a gun” question is phrased in such a way that will generally result in people responding with their opinion. Take me for example, when I get that question I immediately find myself responding with a firm “yes, buy one” answer. This shouldn’t be surprising since I’m a gun guy who strongly believes in the second amendment and would love to see more people exercise it. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a resounding “no, don’t buy one” response from folks who oppose gun ownership or think guns are dangerous. I also expect to hear an “I don’t know” type of reply from folks who are on the fence.
The thing is that none of those are actual answers to the question. They are just opinions that shouldn’t sway your own answer to that question. The decision to become a gun owner is a very personal decision. A decision that shouldn’t be outsourced to anyone. Not to close friends or family, and certainly not random people on the internet. At the end of the day, the only answer and opinion that matters is your own because you will have to live with that decision and the responsibilities that come with it.
If you are currently on the fence about gun ownership and have found yourself asking this question, then I suggest you consider a few other things to make an informed decision rather than polling other people.
- Why do you want to own a gun?
- Do you know the legal requirements and restrictions on gun ownership (including storage and transportation requirements) in your local jurisdiction?
- How will you learn to handle a gun safely?
- What’s the safest way to store guns and ammunition based on your current living situation (don’t forget to consider visitors)?
- Are you prepared for the responsibilities that come along with gun ownership, including being held accountable for their use?
These questions aren’t meant to be all encompassing. Rather, I hope they provide a foundation to begin some introspection and research that will help provide a foundation on which to make an informed decision about whether or not to become a gun owner.
For example, knowing the primary (or initial reason) for wanting to own a gun will help guide the decision on what gun should be the first one purchased. At the same time, it should get one thinking about and asking how they will become proficient in its use. That may help identify a person who may potentially be a mentor or start the search for places to receive quality instruction from.
Knowing the legal requirements for purchasing, possessing, transporting, using, and storing a gun is important to help minimize the chances that a gun owner finds themselves in hot water unintentionally. Remember ignorance is not a valid legal defense. Generally speaking, a quick internet search and a discussion with a licensed gun dealer will yield the successful discovery of most of the legal requirements with the exception of legal usage outside of target shooting. Hunting and self defense usage will typically require more effort to become properly educated. I personally think it’s a good idea to establish a line of communication with an attorney or legal practice that can provide legal advice and defense should it be necessary. As such, I recommend becoming a member of U.S. Law Shield or a similar program.
I can’t stress this enough. Owning a firearm comes with serious responsibilities. Dismissing those responsibilities, as a result of carelessness or ignorance, can have devastating consequences. On the other hand, gun ownership can be tremendously rewarding lifestyle change. A change that makes us better equipped to defend ourselves and opens up the doors to participate in many enjoyable shooting sports and outdoor activities. Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want to do is talk anyone out of gun ownership. At the same time, I’m not trying to talk anyone into it. I simply want to welcome folks after they have personally made a well informed decision to become gun owners.