Let me preface this by sharing with you that I own several firearms. My first purchase was a basic Mossberg 500 which I’ve since modified with a new stock. This has been home defense/go-to firearm and I have had some training with it (training, which I’ve passed on to my wife). My other firearms are mainly for recreational use.
I should also disclose that I am not an NRA member, and I don’t necessarily care for the whole “gun culture” which seems to have a very ‘good ol’ boy’ and even bully-like atmosphere about it.
Having said all of this, I believe that having a firearm in the household is a good choice for responsible people. People who own a firearm should do the following:
- Observe gun rules
- Store your firearm(s) properly/responsibly
- Get some basic training with your firearm (very affordable these days).
Observe gun rules
There are variations of these, but the NRA lists the following rules:
- ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.
Store your firearm(s) properly/responsibly
This is part of many gun safety rule lists out there, but it deserves its own header here. One of the major points of contention here is the debate over proper storage. Traditionally, this means storing your firearm unloaded, and storing your ammo separately. However, a shotgun defense tactics class I took actually encouraged keeping your shotgun loaded (with the safety on of course). The logic here: if someone breaks into your home and threatens your family, you don’t want to be scrambling to open your gun locker AND to grab your ammo and load your weapon. I agree with this sentiment and therefore, I follow the advice of this class. However,, this will change when my family begins to include children. And for all of the focus on “what will you do when someone breaks in and threatens your family?” one needs to remember that most break-ins occur when no one is home (meaning your unsecured weapon could be stolen–or worse yet, turned on you if you happen to arrive while a robbery is in progress).
Those who shouldn’t own guns
Having said all of this, it is clear that there are gun owners who simply buy guns and don’t follow basic safety rules or even common sense. This is the bulk of the unfortunate incidents occur (children getting their hands on guns, gun owners freezing up and/or shooting their own foot off, etc). Most of the anti-gun critics seem to focus on these incidents and they have a point. And that is in many ways the crux of the ongoing gun debate.