Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.
In the last week or so, a number of interesting things have happened. We had the shooting in Texas (covered here, here, and here), we’ve had gun baby down in Beech Grove, and a rash of car break-ins (more than 50 in one neighborhood alone) around town. A far higher number of those than I care for involved stealing firearms that had been cached.
Now, I’ve talked a little bit about firearms, and even given advice on buying your first firearm, in my nuclear operations/war/preparedness posts. I’ve talked a bit about planning ahead in my Texas shooting posts. Today, I want to get into the concepts of preparedness for those who own and use weapons.
Quick aside: While I did leave lever-action firearms out of my first gun post, it was because sadly there are not very many available right now. I still miss my Marlin 336C in .35 Remington, a lot. Lever action has its advantages and disadvantages, and I do like them. Just want to get that out there.
While it may set off a certain type of Fudd, I’m very much for responsible gun ownership. For me, it means proper maintenance, proper storage, and reasonably proper carry. Most of all, it means planning ahead towards use and the aftermath to same. While most of my readers (particularly the regular readers) leave excellent comments, a couple of you worry me though you are no where near as bad as some who respond to Larry Correia (and Jack Wylder). Unless your home won’t burn and your dog is bulletproof, you really do need to care about the law and the ATF.
So let’s start with my top recommendations from buying your first firearm, and go from there. Honestly it doesn’t matter if it is your first or your one hundredth, you need to do a few things.
First, find someone who teaches a gun law class for your state (or other location if not in the USA). TAKE THE CLASS! LE is notoriously unsympathetic to your lack of knowledge. In point of fact, a major point of settled law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you are going to break the law, do so with full knowledge of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and be prepared to take responsibility at need. That, by the way, does not mean lay down and take it in all cases. It can mean being prepared to challenge an unjust law or interpretation at need. Life does tend to go a lot better though when you know what you are getting into in advance. Also keep in mind that knowledge of the law and adherence to same in other cases/areas may (or may not) be a mitigating factor if you do have an issue. If you live in Indiana, check this class out. With all the changes to the law over the last few years, if I had the money I would be there.
Second, get training. Again, I can hear the bristling already and the cries of ‘I know what I’m doing.’ You have to be a complete and total idiot to not get training. Me, I’ve been lucky. My Dad was a marksmanship instructor for the USMC, and even shot competitions for them. I have a number of friends who have done fun and interesting things in life, and have been kind enough to share some of their training. I’ve also had formal training with the M-16 and issue pistol among others. The day I got to spend at Raidon Tactics still makes me smile. I’ve shot an amazing variety of weapons and am qualified on a number of them. Want to know something? What I don’t know about shooting and drills is orders of magnitude more than what I do know. You can never have enough training, and that little trick you pick up from someone at the range one day might prove to be a lifesaver. It is always a good investment. And, yes, after being hit by lightning some remedial training and more wouldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if I hadn’t been hit either. Training always pays for itself.
Third, store your weapons safely. This is not just firearms, but edged and other weapons as well. I still get a chuckle thinking about the tale I heard of a little girl, about three I think, who not only got into a gated kitchen, but then MacGyvered a way up onto the counter and into where the knives were kept. Then back down and out where she went and proudly showed daddy her new possession. It wasn’t the reported ‘how the bleep did you get that’ reaction that makes me laugh, it is the reported ‘if she can do this now, I am so in trouble when she gets older’ reaction that makes me laugh.
The fact is, kids (of all ages) will find weapons and quite often play with them. For ones like our now infamous gun baby, it is understandable if terrifying. I was taught from an early age that firearms and edged items were not toys, but tools. Tools that if I handled without permission, supervision, and/or improperly my backside would be warmed. I even have a vague memory of my Dad pointing out that my cap gun he got me had parts in the barrel to keep it from shooting for real. Mostly true. For the older ones, while it is still often terrifying you do have more options for teaching. It may not be legal, but use of a tactical baton can be justified (IMO); and, under other circumstances smoking them for an hour or three can be quite satisfying. Besides, flutter kicks and the like build character as well as muscles.
If I owned any firearms, they would be stored as safely as circumstances allow. Does this mean a gun safe or such? It is a consideration, and I’ve actually looked at a small biometric drop-door safe as having something fire and water proof to hold important documents and the like is a good thing. If you do get a safe, do bolt it in place if possible. You can’t stop someone from stealing it, but you can make them work for it.
Vehicles are another issue. The problem is, if a thief is looking for weapons, the first two places they are going to check are the glovebox and under the driver’s seat. At least here in Indy, there appear to be a number of such thieves targeting cars near government buildings and elsewhere that ban firearms. Law abiding citizen disarms, goes in, and comes out to a burgled car. So, get creative and make them work for it if you have to do that. I knew of someone who got one of those small drop-door gun safes and had it bolted to the floor of the car under the driver’s seat.
I don’t know if it is true, but I’ve heard that the average car burglar is looking to be in and out in under a minute. Apparently the odds of being spotted/caught/etc. go up sharply after a minute. So, again, be creative and make them work for whatever they get.
Do plan ahead to reload at need. Factor that into your planning at home and elsewhere. That said, my personal take is that under most circumstances if you have to fire more than ten rounds you are either an idiot who does spray-and-pray, or you have just qualified as having an official Bad Day. There is a lot of data out there, and some if it is both amusing and telling. On the whole, most self-defense shootings appear to fall in the ten or less category. There is the old study of LE shootings that found an average of more than 20 shots fired at distances under 12 feet, with only one to three shots hitting target. Just me, but if there are lots of shots being fired and I had to reload, that reload is likely going to be fired mostly over my shoulder as I didi my fluffy fuzzy rump out of there. Please note that this does not apply to zombie or other apocalypses or societal breakdowns. Strictly talking self-defense.
Finally, if you are going to carry or otherwise be prepared to defend yourself and others, take time to think about the aftermath of so doing. There are going to be legal ramifications, social/media ramifications, psychological ramifications, and spiritual ramifications. Prepare as best you can for each. Have a lawyer or lawyers that you can call at need. Stay off social media and don’t talk to corporate media. There are books out there that talk about killing and the psychological aftermath be it combat or self-defense. Reminds me I need to finish one such so I can decide to recommend it or not. Finally, get what spiritual guidance you can in advance. Yes, there are a lot of preachers/priests/sky-pilots who will bleat about no kill under any circumstance, and I heartily recommend you avoid them. Change churches if need be. For all of them, however, there are a number of good preachers/priests/other who can and will help you prepare spiritually as best you can. They may even be able to recommend some books or other to get so you have them at need.
Earlier, I mentioned proper carry. Since this has already gone long, let me just say that, for the most part, tucking it into your waistband is not proper carry. Be a pro, use a holster so the weapon is there in place when you need it. I do even recommend pocket holsters, as they can and do help keep the weapon where you need it. If it comes out with it in an emergency, you can shoot through it at need. For those that use them, same applies to concealed carry handbags. There’s a maker here in Indiana that will replace the handbag for free if you have to shoot through it in a legitimate shoot.
Also, maintenance is a must. Yes, there are some guns that not only get dirty quick, they seem to like it. That said, be prepared to clean and even do minor repairs at need. I can be a bit odd sometimes about lubricants, as I don’t care for such to be sand and/or dirt/dust magnets when I’ve owned firearms. I’ve found a couple of things that worked for me, you need to find what works for you where you live or travel.
Final note on pocket carry. Back in the Old West, such as around Tombstone, the city people mostly did pocket carry. The Earps didn’t slap on gun belts before heading to the corral. Gun belts and holsters were used by the cowboys, that is the rural/country folk of the era. Cowboys also usually had only five rounds in the gun, as given the guns of the era it was not a great idea to have a live round under the hammer when bouncing around on horseback. In fact, it was a great way to shoot your own leg, and if you got the horse instead it tended to be a bit irritated with you, graze or no.