The gunpowder enthusiasts, the 3-gun runners, the old cowboy-action tricksters, the former active-duty soldiers, and even the knowledgeable hobbyists always seemed to keep firearm safety a priority… because they were always handling firearms.
On the other hand, those who kept their firearms in the safe, on the top shelf, or in the plastic foam-lined box for months at a time, often did not display safe weapon handling while browsing the glass cases… because they rarely handled firearms.
And of course, there’s the dude, who would show up at our Class III section for the express purpose of fondling firearms that he’d seen on ‘Call of Duty.’ That guy just made me nervous… but I’m not talking about him, because that issue should be obvious.
Know Handguns or No Handguns
The point is that the more people knew firearms, handled them, worked with them, and experienced their capabilities regularly, the higher their respect for safety. The others who simply wanted to own a firearm for novelty purposes, or rarely handled them out of fear, tended to be some of the worst safety offenders at the gun shop.
What’s the main difference between the two-types of firearm owners?
Simple: The one type of person is trained. The other type of person thinks they’re “good enough.”
But, “good enough” can get you (or someone else) killed when it comes to owning a tool as powerful and potentially deadly as a firearm.
So, here are three reasons why I believe that if you are going to own a handgun, then you need to take gun safety classes beforehand or within 24 hours of your purchase.
1. NRA Safety Training Courses Are EVERYWHERE
I know you’re thinking it, so let me just dispel all erroneous assumptions. No, I’m not advocating that the government require everyone to take a class in order to purchase a firearm.
We all know what the second Amendment is about, and I do believe that kind of law would give bureaucrats WAY too much power to infringe on the most basic liberties.
However, this training requirement should be a personal act of prudent self-governance, and the obvious choice of intelligent, responsible, and safety conscious firearm owners.
Especially for handgun owners, it’s an obvious and easily acquired necessity. How so?
If a firearm instructor or tactical training company tried to charge you more than $50 for a basic handgun course, then they’d better be throwing in the cost of the ammo.
Finding a course on the NRA website is easy, it’s almost always dirt-cheap, and these courses are everywhere. Honestly, saying that you just couldn’t find a course, or courses were too expensive, is a copout. If you can afford to purchase a handgun, then you can afford to pay to learn how to use it properly.
2. It’s the Basics That Will Keep You from Smiling for Your Mug Shot
Hollywood makes me crazy. It’s too bad we can’t sue them for perpetuating terrible safety habits. I can’t tell you how many times my spine tingles when I watch certain movies. For instance, have you ever seen Enemy of the State (1998)?
Here’s what I’m talking about: there’s a scene when you have Gene Hackman on top of Will Smith, holding him at gunpoint in an elevator. Sure, they make Hackman’s character out to be a military spook-type dude, but he sure didn’t act like it…
You see, he was swinging around a 1911 pistol like a madman with his finger on the trigger! Anyone who has ever held a 1911 knows that those are triggers are unforgiving. If Hackman’s character had been slightly startled by a distant sneeze, then THAT film would have been over in a hurry.
I do find it curious just how much the Hollywood-type seems to demonize guns, yet they’ll gladly play the trigger-happy hero. All the while, their depicted firearm safety handling is horrifying and laughable at the same time.
However, if a Marine ever points his muzzle down the firing line (otherwise known as “flagging”), you can bet that there shall be an immediate and thorough chewing out with lots of cussing, spitting and yelling.
Nevertheless, most handgun newbies are unfamiliar with the basics:
- Muzzle discipline: consciously avoiding the act of pointing the business end of the handgun at something or someone you don’t intend to shoot.
- Trigger discipline: consciously avoiding the act of placing your finger on the trigger (or inside the trigger guard) when you don’t intend to shoot.
- To make a weapon ‘safe’: unload the weapon (drop the mag), always manipulate the slide or action three times, look and see that no rounds have been chambered, and feel inside the chamber to confirm that the weapon is, in fact, unloaded.
- By the way, there is no ‘safe’… ALWAYS treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
And these are just the basics. I remember sitting there on the other side of the gun cases, as customer after customer “flagged” me and the rest of the store… with the slide forward (I’d never give it to them that way, but they’d go ahead and actuate the release lever) and their finger pressed firmly against the trigger.
Sure that might be “safe” in Hollywood or video game land, but this is real life, and those are real firearms.
So, c’mon, people. Just get trained. At least then you’ll know what is expected of a responsible and safe firearm owner… not to mention, you can avoid a manslaughter charge.
3. Firearms are Weapons. People Who Don’t Know Their Weapons… Die in Fights.
Admittedly, this particular pointer isn’t necessarily for the old cowboy – who just wants to display his antique-but-gorgeously glistening Schofield revolver on the wall in a case.
This one is for the kind of person who sees his or her firearm as a possible means of protection. It’s also why you should go at least a step beyond the basics and actually take an advanced handgun proficiency course.
Ladies and gentleman, if you get into a gunfight and you take the Hollywood approach, then I hope you purchased good life insurance. However, if you’re trained – you’ve been taught by folks who have studied or professionally operated in 2-way shooting ranges (AKA: gunfights) – At that point, you will have a much-needed advantage and a more realistic understanding about what could go down when you have to draw.
Here are just a few things you can learn from tactical training courses that are provided all over the US…
- How to control firearm recoil
- How to properly aim a handgun
- How to draw and reholster safely
- Where to place your rounds on the target
- How to keep from firing a round in an unintended direction (i.e.: your foot, your dog, another person… anything that’s not the target)
- Basic concealed carry protocol (how NOT to piss off the police, what NOT to do after a gunfight and when NOT to draw your firearm)
- How gunfights are fluid, and to use lateral movement (advanced)
- How to operate from cover and concealment (advanced)
- How to fire from a ground position or if wounded (advanced)
And that barely even scratches the surface. Simply put, if you’re going to own a firearm for self-defensive purposes, before you spend oodles of cash on ammo, I’d spend it on training. Why?
Well, I’d rather engage an untrained lunatic with 23 available rounds than a trained professional with three – but that’s just me, I suppose.
A firearm is merely a tool, but the most powerful tools require common sense and intimate knowledge of how to use them.