Covid-19 and first time gun owners: Now what?

Americans are buying firearms in record numbers due to the Corona Virus.

It’s still early April, but I don’t think we are going to see a Tom Clancy type scenario due to the virus. In any case, whether or not the virus or the impending economic collapse scenario really plunges us into a Mad Max life style, America has spoken.

Personally, I’m all for it. As far as the firearm buying goes. I’ll pass on the shiny and chrome part.

Before I get on my soap box, let me explain my experience. I started hunting as a teen. I took a hunter safety course in Washington state. Since then I have used several shotguns, rifles, bows, and handguns in either a hunting capacity or for other purposes. In 2010, I served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman. After completing active duty I began security contracting work, where I continued to train with firearms and with different state or federal regulations and training requirements.

With the stage set and the background out of the way, let’s get on with it. First and foremost, this article is for new firearm owners. With that, the most important things you can learn right out of the gate are the 4 safety rules. I’m going to give you a bonus one as well.


#1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. – This is pretty simple. At no time, under any circumstances, should you assume its unloaded or it is safe to point at anyone or anything. It is NOT a toy.

#2. Do NOT point the firearm at ANYTHING you are not willing to shoot or destroy. – A novel concept. Best places to point it are the ground, the sky, and at your intended target.

#3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire. – Seriously, this is by far the easiest one. Put your trigger finger above the trigger on the frame of the gun. This is known as “trigger discipline”.

#4. Keep the firearm on “safe” until you intend to fire. – If your particular model has a safety, follow the rule. Glock for instance, has a safety built into the trigger and does not have a on/off feature. An AR15 does have a safety, so put it on safe.

#5. (The bonus rule) – Know your target, and what is beyond. – Bullets do not stop once they have hit something. If a bullet impacts an object, and changes direction while continuing to travel, this is known as a ricochet. Also, paper, cardboard, car doors, the walls in your house, are all easily penetrated by most calibers.

Police departments, each branch of the military, gun clubs, and ranges all have some variation of these rules. They all take it seriously, so should you.

Now that you have made your purchase, and understand these basic rules, the next best thing to do is get training. Find a local range, or a certified instructor. Just like playing guitar, driving a car, or taking up a new hobby, there are a lot of things to learn. Take a hunter safety course, or a basic firearms class. If you have someone in your life that is trustworthy, ask them to show you the ropes. The best time to learn is now, not in the crucial moment when you need to use it.

Laws, are like umbrellas, a big one at the top covering everything, then smaller and smaller as you go down. For instance there are Federal laws that apply in every state, then state laws under that, with county and even city laws following under those.

Getting to know your local laws can be done by taking those courses and classes that I mentioned previously. You can also visit your state police website. In general, there should be links to state laws and a FAQ section with pertinent information. If you legally purchased a firearm, it’s likely that you’re already abiding by federal laws.

Big laws to know are the Castle Doctrine, and Stand Your Ground. Castle Doctrine, in general is usually applied at the state level. Each state has variances within the law, but as a generalization, this law protects your private property and your ability to defend it. I’m going to be a little ambiguous here, because states vary so much. Stand Your Ground laws are also applied at the same level. This law gives a citizen a reasonable expectation to be able to defend themselves without retreating. This is usually applied in public spaces. YOU NEED TO RESEARCH YOUR SPECIFIC LOCALITY.

In addition to these laws, there are laws that restrict carrying a firearm in public places. For instance, some localities have “open carry” and do not require a permit. I would define Open carry as the wear or carry of a firearms, usually a handgun, in a holster that is outside the waist band, and is fully visible. (Not obscured by a garment) In some states, open carrying a handgun in a holster is fine, but once you sit inside a vehicle it is considered concealed carry. Regardless of the holster or the previous definition. Other states allow sitting inside of a vehicle with a loaded firearm without a permit.

Concealed carry is also usually done with a handgun. Most of the time in a holster that is designed for inside the waist band. This I would define as any manner of carrying a firearm that is intended to hide or conceal the firearm. Usually inside or under a garment. A majority of states and localities require a permit in order to carry this way. Some states require you take a safety course prior to applying for a permit and conduct a criminal background check for this permit. All done for a fee.

Realistically, concealed carry is your best option. This way does not draw unnecessary attention to you. Additionally, it prevents an aggressor from trying to grab for it, or a curious child touching it. A visible firearm can also escalate a situation that otherwise may have been handled at a lower level.

Storage is also a significant concern. Having something to protect your home is not very useful if it is locked inside of Fort Knox and requires a 10 digit password and an act of congress to get it out. That glass breaking sound at 1 in the morning or more likely, since most intrusions happen during daylight, the dog suddenly greeting a stranger is essentially the only warning you’ll have. Then you are in a race against them to decide what to do and how to do it.

On the other hand, leaving a loaded firearm on the couch with a toddler running amok is just as disastrous. Therefore, you need to find a middle ground. Maybe the firearms is always on you in your favorite holster until it’s time for bed, where it goes into your nightstand. Perhaps it’s high on a shelf in the panic room. Whether you live alone or with a horde of children you will have to find a solution for yourself.

Another important aspect of firearms, a light. There are a plethora of companies making great tactical lights for a wide range of firearms. Being able to identify who or what is out there in the dark is very important. The last thing anyone wants is to investigate a bump in the night and shoot the scary shadow, only to find out it is their wife looking for a midnight snack. If you are considering a light, find a holster to accommodate it as well. There are hand held lights too if you want to go that route. Personally, I want less stuff in my hands during high stress situations.

The very last thing I want to put in your mind is to have a PLAN. This plan should be easily understood, and easily executable. For example, if you have a large house, the best plan is to shelter inside a room together. If you are absolutely certain a break in is occurring, there is no reason to try and confront the intruder. As soon as you and the rest of your family separate, now you’re putting them in jeopardy. If you get hurt or attacked, now that firearm is in the wrong hands. Protect the ground you already have, gather your family in one room, or plan to shelter in place. Locking the door and calling 911 is your best option.

When on the phone with 911, let them know where you are and what you are wearing then stay there. The responding officers do not know that you are the home owner, or the bad guy. All they see is you with a firearm. I don’t say this to say that the police are inept, but rather as a precautionary tale. Worst case scenario, you swing your arms around trying to point them in the right direction while waiving a handgun everywhere. That’s just not a good way to rectify the situation. Let them do what they need to do and stay on the line with the dispatcher.

There are infinitely more things to be discussed but in the least, follow the safety rules, get some training, and keep your firearms in a safe place. Learn your applicable laws. You’re already off to a good start.

Self defense and Home defense. I think this is one of the best YouTube channels in the segment.

Want to learn about the AR-15? Click here.

I am NOT affiliated with any products, manufacturers, or agencies linked above.

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