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First Steps of Responsible Gun Ownership

Buying a firearm for the first time can be an exciting experience, but it also comes with great responsibility. Owning a firearm requires proper education and training to ensure that you handle it safely and responsibly. In this article, we will cover the first steps you should take after buying a firearm for the first time.

Read the Owner’s Manual

The first step after buying a firearm for the first time is to read the owner’s manual. The manual contains important information on how to operate and maintain your firearm. It will also provide you with valuable safety tips and instructions that are specific to your firearm. Here are a few things you should look for in the owner’s manual:

Proper assembly and disassembly procedures

Every model of firearm is different and has a different way to take it apart. Reading your owners manual will allow you to do so safely and without harming the firearm.

Information on ammunition compatibility

Your owners manual will tell you what kinds of ammo can safely be used in your firearm. This is also stamped on the barrel of most modern firearms as well as the head-stamp of the ammunition (around the primer).

Most calibers come with different loads of ammunition available to a shooter. If you’re going to be firing +p or +p+ defensive rounds, you better make sure your pistol is rated for them. You can’t put a 22 short in a 22 WMR rifle just because they’re both .22 caliber.

Leave all of your ammunition in the original box. The outcomes from not doing this can range from annoying malfunctions to sudden death, depending on “how wrong” the combination may be.

Instructions on how to clean and maintain your firearm

Proper care and maintenance will keep your firearms working properly for thousands of rounds. All of the steps are available in your handy little owners manual.

While many experts will say you don’t “need” to clean your firearms, these people often shoot every day. The damage is much more pronounced when a new shooter leaves their gun in the safe for months at a time. This can lead to corrosion in the barrel from the lead and copper being left in the barrel.

Letting your new gun sit in the safe covered in oil might seem like a great idea, but even that can lead to rust and corrosion over time. Taking the firearm apart to clean, oil, and lubricate it properly is one of the first steps to responsible firearm ownership.

Safety guidelines and warnings

By reading the owner’s manual carefully, you will have a better understanding of your firearm and how to use it safely.

Get Proper Training

Even if you have experience with firearms, it is always a good idea to get proper training with your specific firearm. Training will help you develop the fundamental skills necessary to handle your firearm safely and accurately. Here are some training options you should consider:

  • Firearms safety courses: These courses will cover the basics of firearms safety and are a great option for beginners. We offer NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting, as well as NRA FIRST Steps.
  • Firearm training classes: These classes are more advanced and can help you develop your shooting knowledge and skills.
  • Personal instruction: Consider getting personal instruction from a qualified instructor who can teach you proper handling techniques and answer any questions you may have. We offer 1on1 and small group fundamentals courses for pistols and rifle.

By getting proper training, you will be better equipped to handle your firearm safely and responsibly.

Store Your Firearm Safely

When you’re not using your firearm, it should be stored in a safe and secure location, away from children and unauthorized individuals. Proper storage is very important to prevent accidents and theft. Here are some storage options you should consider:

  • Gun safes: A gun safe is a secure storage container designed to keep your firearm out of the wrong hands. It is a great option if you have children in the home or if you want to protect your firearm collection from fire and theft. The biggest issue is they’re usually heavy and expensive.
  • Lock boxes: Lock boxes are smaller storage containers that can be used to store your firearm when you are not using it. They’re a good option if you need to transport your firearm or if you don’t have the space or need for a larger gun safe. You can get one of these for home and car for less than $80 including tax.
  • Trigger locks: A trigger lock is a device that fits over the trigger of your firearm, preventing it from being fired. It is a simple and affordable way to add an extra layer of security to your firearm. These can be had for a few dollars, and most firearms come with them for free. While they don’t prevent theft, they will prevent children from having any accidents.

By storing your firearm safely, you can help prevent future accidents and keep your firearm out of young, unauthorized, or unwanted hands.

Practice Safe Handling

Practicing safe handling techniques is essential to prevent accidents and ensure that you handle your firearm responsibly. Here are some basic safety rules you should follow:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded: Most of the firearms accidents in the U.S happen with a gun that was assumed to be unloaded. You want to open the action and visually check the magazine well, chamber, and breach face. Get in the habit early of doing this EVERY time, and it takes zero effort for the rest of your life.

    Here are a few scenarios:
    • You loaded 5 rounds into a magazine and shot 5 rounds, the slide is locked to the rear. Check to make sure it’s clear!
    • You are about to put the pistol in a case. Check to make sure it’s clear!
    • You are about to bring the pistol into your home. Check to make sure it’s clear!
    • You take a pistol out of the case to clean it. Check to make sure it’s clear!
    • Your friend got a new pistol and wants you to check it out. He takes out the magazine and clears the chamber. Check to make sure it’s clear!

Alec Baldwin is an excellent example of why even an “unloaded” gun is never pointed at a person. Shit happens, but if the firearm is pointed in a safe direction, then it happens over there.

If you clear your firearm 17 times out of habit, the WORST thing that can happen is that it’s empty. If you get in the habit of assuming, the results could blow your mind…

  • Never point your firearm at something you are not willing to destroy: Imagine there’s a super explosive death laser firing out of the barrel at all times.

Pointing a gun at the gun shop owner, your hand, or your cat, can end very badly. This is the second rule broken by Mr. Baldwin.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot: This doesn’t just mean that you’re on target. This means until you’re ready to start taking up slack and make the shot.

Keeping your finger one the frame is the safest place. Using the trigger guard to rest your finger can result in a pulled trigger from a flinch reflex. Being startled, falling, even coughing and sneezing can cause you to pull the trigger without intending to.

  • Be sure of your target, what is beyond it, and what is around it: Know where your bullet is going if it goes through the target or misses completely. Having that target on top of a mountain means any missed shots fly much further than intended. Shooting a deer with a high powered rifle means there could be other hunters around. Ask A.B.

Each of these rules builds on the others creating a great redundancy system. By practicing these safe handling techniques, you can ensure that you handle your firearm responsibly and prevent accidents.

Understand the Laws

It is important to understand the laws and regulations governing firearms ownership and use in your state or locality. Familiarize yourself with the restrictions on where and when you can legally carry your firearm. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Permit requirements: In some states, you may need a permit to purchase or carry a firearm. Make sure you understand the requirements in your state or locality.
  • Concealed carry laws: If you plan to carry your firearm in public, you should familiarize yourself with the concealed carry laws in your state or locality. These laws vary by state and may require a permit or have certain restrictions on where and when you can carry your firearm.
  • Gun-free zones: Some places, such as schools and government buildings, are designated as gun-free zones. Make sure you understand these restrictions and abide by them to avoid legal issues.

By understanding the laws and regulations governing firearms ownership and use, you can ensure that you are a responsible and law-abiding gun owner.

In conclusion, owning a firearm is a serious responsibility that requires proper education and training. By following these first steps after buying a firearm for the first time, you can ensure that you handle your firearm safely and responsibly. Remember to read the owner’s manual, get proper training, store your firearm safely, practice safe handling, and understand the laws and regulations governing firearms ownership and use. By doing so, you can enjoy your firearm while minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits of gun ownership.

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