From an article I wrote in 2017…
These tips are based on my experiences. I’m a former police officer, a lifetime gun owner, a dad, grandfather, husband and Prepper. Some people accuse me of being a closet writer too, but that’s just a nasty rumor.
Many of the below tips are personal choices each gun owner will have to make. In many cases, like anything else, there’s multiple ways to do something and everyone has their own opinion. Everyone will find what works for them as they gain experience with their weapon.
None of these tips should be considered as legal advice.
In no particular order of importance, for your bathroom reading pleasure….
- Know your states gun laws, backwards, forwards, and able to recite them in your sleep. Stay current on changing gun laws. Know reciprocating states gun laws just as well if you plan on carrying out of state. Prosecutors are NOT our friends, and if they can get a successful prosecution, I promise you they won’t care if your technical mistake was minor and unintentional.
- Owning and carrying a gun can be a legal minefield. Common sense, a cool head and knowing the gun laws, will help keep you alive and out of jail. Many gun shops that offer gun classes also offer classes taught by lawyers or prosecutors that focus on the legal side of gun ownership. Take one if you have the opportunity.
- Along with your standard training, find a tactical training class. Shooting a moving or multiple targets, while you’re moving or crouching down, is FAR more difficult (and realistic) than shooting that paper target at the range. Also find a class on defending your home and clearing the house when you suspect there’s an intruder. There’s a training tool called “Ring’s Blue Guns”. They’re exact polyurethane gun replicas, molded from actual guns, of about every gun in existence used by police for training. Spend the $40 and buy one for training around the house.
- Just as important as knowing HOW to shoot your gun, is knowing WHEN – and when NOT – to shoot your gun! General rule of thumb: If someone is robbing your house and they’re running away from you toward the door to leave, and you shoot them in the back, you WILL go to jail for manslaughter. If you’re not in imminent danger of death or serious injury, let them run away. This is one of those times you have to control that overwhelming anger and urge to shoot someone that did you wrong. Some states have the “Castle Doctrine”, but don’t rely on that to help you stay out of jail for 20 years.
- Drawing your gun should be an absolute last resort. Once you pull that trigger, there’s no force in the known universe that can call the bullet back. Never draw your gun to try to just scare someone away. In many states this is considered “brandishing” and you can end up in jail.
- The BEST way to win a gun fight is to avoid it, if you can’t avoid it, make sure you actually have your gun (oh, I’m just running to the store, I don’t need to carry) . Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
- To carry openly or carry concealed is a personal choice, but I promise you that concealed carry is a FAR better option, especially with the attitudes and misconceptions many people have today.
- Situational awareness. If you’re not sure what that is, look it up. Practice it daily.
- Spend the $100+ to get a small gun safe that can be secured to the wall or floor. Storing your gun on the top shelf of the closet is NOT safe if you have kids in the house. Securely store your gun loaded. There are two camps of opinions: A) Unload your gun every night. B) Store your gun loaded, the less you cycle that slide (or open the revolver cylinder) the less chances you have of an accidental discharge.
- Be overly paranoid about safety, Even if you saw someone unload the gun, If they hand it to you, check it anyway.
- Teach your kids how to safely use guns. This protects them from bad guys and also helps eliminate the mystery that makes kids curious. My son is 15, since he was 6, I’ve taught him gun safety, at first, using an airsoft gun. I know that he won’t go up to show his friends the gun safe. Frequently when we’re at the range, range officers comment to me that my son handles a gun better and safer than many adults they see daily.
- Avoid the $10 generic nylon holster. Avoid it like the plague. Get a good holster that’s made specifically for your gun. Make sure it fits comfortably. I suggest leather or Kydex or the belly bands that are becoming popular.
- Make sure your clothes fit for concealed carry. Those of you that wear tight clothes, especially the petite gun carriers, might have to wear a size larger to conceal properly.
- Clean your gun often. Body sweat is like glue for dust and clothing lint. If you have the option, get a holster with a built in sweat shield.
- If you wake up to the sound of breaking glass in the middle of the night, NEVER EVER shoot through a door, down dark stairs or into a dark room. It could be your spouse, your mom or one of your kids coming home late. If you can’t see and positively identify the target visually, don’t touch that trigger.
- If you’re out with your spouse, kids, loved ones, etc, , and someone starts shooting, do NOT decide to be a hero and try to take out the shooter. Your first priority is to get your kids and family to safety, as far away from the danger as possible.
- Understand and accept this: There are certain people that will NEVR EVER be accepting of guns. Some people think that the ability to call 911 is all the protection they need. No matter what argument or facts you present, you will never change their minds.
- Know your gun and understand how your gun works…. and know the correct terminology. Is it Single Action, Double Action, Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA); Striker Fired, Partially Cocked Striker Fired, etc. Does it have a safety, a decocker or no safety? When buying your gun or getting training – ASK QUESTIONS. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Educate yourself.
- Many , if not most semi-automatics, **CAN** fire with the magazine removed, and a single bullet in the chamber. Just because that gun has no magazine inserted, don’t assume there’s no bullet in the chamber.
- In case your gun misfires or has a stovepipe, ALWAYS keep it pointed downrange away from people while you clear the slide. I’m constantly amazed at how many supposedly “experienced” gun owners don’t follow this safety protocol.
- I can’t say this too many times – NEVER assume the gun is unloaded, even if a gun “expert” hands you the gun and tells you it’s unloaded. ALWAYS visually check the chamber or cylinder.
- Know the terminology as not to highly annoy experienced gun owners. Know the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine”. Seriously. A gun newbie can get away with this for a short time, but after you’ve owned a gun for a week, you’ll just look silly if you call the magazine a clip.
- Do not add gun logo stickers to your car or truck. You don’t want to advertise that you own guns. If you do, your vehicle has a VERY good chance of being broken into. Be discreet. Stay off the radar.
- Never ever, have the signs or doormats that say something like ” We don’t call 911″ or “There will be no warning shots”. Never ever add accessories to your firearm that say anything like: “Smile Wait For Flash”, “If You Run You’ll Only Die Tired”, “You’re Fucked” or anything that a prosecutor could even loosely interpret as making you enthusiastic to kill. Even police officers have been convicted of murder because of an inscription on their gun. The prosecutor made a case to say that the police officer was enthusiastic about killing. (Google: ” Cop’s AR-15 Dust Cover Inscription Used Against Him in Court”)
- Learn how you should respond in the event you need to actually use your firearm for self-defense. The first words you say to the 911 operator could literally make the difference between the shooting being classified as “self-defense” or “manslaughter”. Know how you should respond to the police that arrive on the scene (hint: comply with their orders, keep your mouth shut and do NOT be holding your gun). This is something that your gun instructor will go over with you.