As a dedicated concealed carrier, you will likely be asked by some of the new gun owners as of late as to how they should proceed in their path towards armed preparedness. If dealing with an individual who has made the first step of buying a gun, this act signifies that they are at least partially invested in their own security. As an experienced person in firearms and self-defense, you should do your best to offer practical guidance to such individuals.
Firearms are, of course, only one aspect of preparedness. When offering guidance to new gun owners, it is important to suggest the appropriate training for the individual based on their own experience and motivation. The conversation should, however, go well beyond firearms. Most gun owners take only basic and rudimentary training, if any at all. The gamut of what is involved in protecting one’s self with a firearm is rarely investigated by the average gun owner. Therefore, here are some guidelines for helping these new folks:
Emphasize the Basics of Firearms Safety
The single most critical aspect for any gun owner to consider is safety with the tool and the secure storage of that tool in the home. Even if we can only impart a lesson on safety and nothing else, at least we will have accomplished this most vital task. Review the four rules of gun safety with the new gun owner, and be sure to emphasize the need to be responsible with the handling and storage of the gun. Advise the individual to immediately obtain a quick-access safe so that they can store their gun so that it is ready but secured against unauthorized access.
Promote the Study of Self-Defense Law
The first item beyond firearms safety that I highly recommend you promote to a new gun owner is an understanding of self-defense law. The gun does the owner little good if they use it illegally or inappropriately and end up in prison for the rest of their lives. The gross ignorance in this field among the majority of gun owners is appalling, and it is detrimental for any who arm themselves not to have a good understanding of this subject. We hear it often, a complete ignorance of the law: “if you shoot someone on your porch, just drag the body inside.” Or, “Anyone who comes in my house is getting shot.” The list goes on. Such statements betray the absolute ignorance of self-defense law. This is a prescription for disaster.
Even a solid knowledge of self-defense law does not guarantee you won’t be prosecuted following a self-defense shooting, but knowing the legal framework makes a bad legal outcome much less likely and makes the actions of the defender much easier to argue. Recommend to all new gun owners the book entitled The Law of Self-Defense by attorney Andrew Branca. This book is essential reading for all who go armed or keep a gun in the home.
Most new concealed carriers think that their CCW class is training. This is rarely the case. Even concealed carry classes that require a qualification course of fire do not constitute any sort of comprehensive training in shooting or gun handling, let alone self-defense. Encourage the new gun owner to seek out at least one defensive pistol course put on by a reputable instructor. Such training typically opens the new shooter up to the world of self-defense reality and abolishes the myths and misconceptions. People who have never attended professional training simply don’t know what they don’t know. Such a training experience puts people well on their way towards proficiency with the gun.
Encourage the Practice of Overall Security
Many new and long-time gun owners alike presume that buying a gun and putting it away somewhere in their home constitutes being safe. This is hardly the case. A new gun owner has displayed the fact that they are at least thinking about safety. Encourage this individual to consider the other aspects of personal and home security. Bring up home security: how are the locks on their doors and windows? Do they keep their doors locked? Do they have an alarm system of some kind? Having some examples of criminal activity in the local vicinity is a great way to encourage others to think in this regard. By fostering the further consideration of personal protection, you will encourage the new gun owner to pursue the expansion of their own knowledge and skills for the better.
Many people who buy a new gun will never go beyond the simple classification of “gun owner.” Just as owning a guitar or piano does not make one a musician, owning a gun does not make one capable of defending themselves. It is, however, a needed start. Best of luck in this conversation. Let us all persuade others for the better when we can.