New gun owners have a lot to learn before they can use their weapons safely and effectively. In fact, you should start learning some of the following tips weeks or months before you purchase a gun for the first time.
Knowing about topics such as firearm safety, gun violence, firearms sales during the coronavirus pandemic, and background checks will make it easier for you to make smart, informed decisions about your purchase.
1. The United States Has a Complex System of Gun Control Laws
Considering that 30% of American adults own a gun, you would think you could just stroll into a store and purchase a new firearm easily. However, the level of difficulty of purchasing a firearm depends on where you live.
If you buy from a gun shop, you will need to pass a background check that helps ensure you have not committed certain crimes. (You can potentially avoid this step by finding a private seller.) Felons can't own or carry guns in the U.S., so having a record could prevent you from completing your purchase.
Laws get more complicated when you look at differences between open carry and concealed carry from state to state. It quickly becomes obvious that the U.S. has a complex system of laws. In some states, you can openly carry a pistol without a permit. Some states even give new gun owners the right to carry concealed weapons without permits.
If you plan to carry a concealed weapon, find out whether you live in a shall issue, may issue, or unrestricted state.
Shall Issue CCW Permit Laws
Shall issue states must issue you a concealed carry permit when you apply, assuming that you don't have a criminal record or pose an immediate threat to someone.
May Issue CCW Permit Laws
May issue states can deny your application for a permit unless you offer a compelling reason that you need to carry a concealed weapon. Some states require more information than others. For instance, it's difficult to get a gun permit in California or Massachusetts unless you need to protect yourself from threats.
Unrestricted CCW Laws
In an unrestricted state, most adults can carry weapons lawfully without applying for or receiving permits.
Check Your Local Laws
Always check your local laws to make sure you carry them lawfully. If you have any questions, your local police department or sheriff's office can usually answer them.
2. Know How You Plan to Use Your Gun Before You Choose a Model
Two-thirds of gun owners say they purchase firearms for protection. New gun owners usually fall into this group. Before you make a purchase, though, consider the following questions as it pertains to the type of protection you want from your gun:
Do you plan to keep the gun in your home to protect your family from intruders?
Do you want to carry the gun with you daily for self-defense?
Do you want to conceal your gun so you can protect yourself without attracting unwanted attention?
How you answer those questions should help you choose a gun that matches your needs.
While a full-size gun works well for home protection, you might not want to carry one throughout the day. If you want an excellent concealed carry gun that you feel comfortable keeping at your side for hours at a time, you will probably prefer models like:
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
Sig Sauer P365
New gun owners who plan to conceal carry, often like these pistols because they have compact designs. They aren't the best options for people who plan to practice sports shooting or want to go hunting, though. You can't choose the right model for you until you know how you plan to use your firearm.
3. Find a Firearms Class in Your Area to Learn the Basics of Operating a Gun
Joining a class led by a trained professional is the best way to learn the basics of gun safety and use. A gun firearms course should cover topics like:
In some states, you must take gun safety courses before you can carry a firearm.
This is potentially the most important step toward becoming a responsible gun owner. Until you train with an expert, you never know whether you have the skills you need to operate your weapon safely. Shooting with your friends is fun, but you can pick up bad habits from them. You need to learn everything from the proper firing stance to how to store your guns.
4. Compare Prices and Models Before You Buy a Gun
New gun owners shouldn't spend too much money on their models. You can spend anywhere from two hundred dollars to thousands of dollars on a new gun. Typically, it's not the best idea to spend over $1,000 on your first purchase. Over time, the learning process may cause you to discover you should have gone with a different option.
Prices Can Surge During Times of Uncertainty
Comparing prices will help you get a good price on a model that seems like an excellent choice for your first buy. Like any item, though, prices can change depending on supply and demand. The 2020 pandemic and U.S. election cycle offer examples of how prices can change during times of high demand.
During the spring months of 2020, Americans worried about whether stores would run out of necessary items. Stress from the coronavirus pandemic compelled millions of people to become first-time gun owners. If the economy or supply chains collapsed, they wanted to have firearms that they could use to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Social unrest also contributed to surging firearms sales. During the first three months of 2020, stores sold about three million more guns than they usually do during those months.
Gun sales surged again just before the 2020 presidential election. A 66 percent increase from September 2019 to September 2020 made it nearly impossible for some gun shops to keep popular items in stock.
Firearm and ammunition prices skyrocketed during these times. Some areas even ran out of 9mm bullets. Outside of stressful times, 9mm bullets are affordable and easy to find. One gun store owner says that about 90% of his customers buy 9mm handguns.
Try to Wait Until Prices Come Down
Unless you don't mind spending more—or you feel that you must get a weapon as soon as possible—gun purchasers should try to avoid buying their first handguns during times of uncertainty. If you can wait a few months, firearms purchases will likely decrease. Prices will fall along with the lower demand.
5. Choose a Way to Keep Your Weapon Secure at all Times
Every gun owner—regardless of how much experience they have—needs to make safety a priority. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, unsafe gun storage leads to more unintentional firearm deaths. Something as simple as purchasing a reliable gun safe could add to your family's protection.
Using trigger locks to prevent unauthorized people from loaded or firing guns.
Storing guns in security cases, strong boxes, or locking steel gun cabinets.
Choosing a gun safe that can accommodate the needs of a growing collection.
Smart gun safety isn't just about preventing accidental firings. Burglars look for weapons when they break into homes. They can sell stolen firearms for money or use the guns to commit more crimes. Fox News reports that 373,663 people in the U.S. were killed by firearms from 2007 to 2017. That number includes accidental and violent firearm deaths.
Either way, the data offers a clear message: keep your firearms secure at all times!
6. New Gun Owners Need the Right Holsters
Of course, we're going to mention the importance of choosing the right holster for your gun! The right holster can make your concealed carry weapon more comfortable and easier to access. You will appreciate those benefits when you suddenly need to draw your weapon near the end of a long day.
We make a variety of holster styles to meet your needs. As long as you have a relatively popular gun model, we probably have an inside the waistband (IWB), outside the waistband (OWB), or hybrid holster for you.
We also have accessories that can make your CCW more secure, including our: