This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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What You Can Do to Be Safe Gun Owner or Collector
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, nearly 2 million firearms and millions of rounds of ammunition have been bought across this great country of ours. As an ardent Second Amendment supporter, I am happy to see people exercising their right to own a weapon. The only concern is many of the people buying these firearms are first-time gun owners. This by no means should prohibit a person from defending themselves, but there is a great responsibility that comes with being a person who owns a firearm. I am offering this brief article to help people who are “new to the club. ” A safe gun owner is a great first step to being a responsible member of the gun-owning community.
I wanted to come up with something easy to remember. Therefore, I drew something from the colloquialisms of today. The word “strapped” has come to mean a person who is carrying a gun. Each letter of the word “strapped” has a meaning that can help you stay safe as a gun owner in these United States.
Be A Safe Gun Owner; Get Strapped
S — Safety. This should be the first thing on every gun owner’s mind. A firearm is a deadly weapon. It is not a toy. A gun should always be stored when it is not in use or being carried. The storage place for this gun should be somewhere that can be locked to prevent untrained people from accessing the weapon. Further, ammunition should be stored in a separate location. In some states, you are required to have the firearm under lock and key. Be sure to check your local restrictions. Regardless, this is a good idea for the safety of your family and community.
T — Target. If you have a firearm, whether you intend to train with it or have it “just in case,” you always need to be aware of your target and your surroundings. Most deaths from firearms happen, not because someone hits a target, but because someone misses and hits a person who is within the firing range of the weapon. Always check your target and the surrounding area.
R — Regulations. The Second Amendment prohibits infringements of an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Despite that, states and federal laws still impose restrictions on the types of weapons and ammunition individuals can have in the United States. The rules for each state are different, so I cannot cover them here. In fact, sometimes they even vary by city! Make sure you learn the regulations in your area for carrying, purchase, storage, and transportation of your weapon so you do not become a felon. They are one of the few groups of people who should never have a firearm.
A — Ammunition. So many people go out and buy a gun with possibly one box of ammunition. Doing so tells anyone who sells guns you do not intend to practice at all. When you buy a gun, make sure that you get enough ammunition so you can be competent with the weapon. Just having one box means you do not practice or that you are empty when the time comes when you need the gun.
P — Practice. Sorry, I know there should not be two of a letter in pneumonic devices, but we needed two “p”s for this one. Practice is very important. You only hit what you aim if you practice hitting what you aim. Most deaths from guns, as noted above, are because people miss their targets. It is not because they hit them. Take the time to go to the range and learn how to use (and clean) your weapon.
P — Professionals. Do not assume that just because you bought a firearm you are competent to use it. People train for years to be “OK” at using a gun. It is not a Nintendo Zapper. You do not just pick it up. Take the time to practice and have a professional teach you how to safely care for and use your firearm. Both your life and other people’s lives can depend on it. Even when you are on lockdown at home, watch online videos on gun safety to learn more about it.
E — Education. That brings us to education. I have been around guns my entire life. However, I took a gun safety course I turned 12 to ensure I would be a responsible firearms owner. Everyone should enroll in one of these courses (either live or digital). These classes teach the unthinkable about firearms, which are the most important to know! The more you learn, the safer a gun owner you will be. If you ever reach the point where you think you know everything you will ever need to know about guns, then it is time for you to give up your guns. You are no longer safe.
D — Defense. Defense is a very important concept. Any civilian owning a firearm should own it for one of two reasons: hunting or defense. One of the main reasons people own guns around the world (legally) is for the defense of self, home and property, personal rights, or others. You should take this into consideration when you purchase and store a gun. Other things to consider are what is your gun built for, what does it excel at, and what are the dangers of using it for home defense? Many people do not think about these things and buy an overpowered gun that shoots through apartment walls and even home walls. This risks the lives and safety of people in the home and community. Determine what is safe for your situation whether it is a 9mm pistol with 9mm or a shotgun with birdshot or field shot. Then know where you will be using it. These steps will increase the safety not only for your defense, but the defense of others around you.
Gun Ownership is a Right, but Comes With Responsibilities
I firmly believe every non-felon who is mentally stable in the United States should have access to a firearm because it is their right. Whether they choose to use this right is up to them. Whether others choose to use this right is not up to them. It is up to the individual. As a nation, we need to make a concerted effort to ensure people are trained in how to safely use a firearm. We had firearms training in most schools till the 1970s and zero school shootings. Now people think of a firearm as a symbol of power, not a symbol of defense.
Take the time to educate yourself if you are one of the millions of Americans who just recently bought a firearm. If you know someone who purchased their first gun support them. Offer to take them to a range or talk to them about gun safety. Gun owners are a community and we need to look out for one another, even the people we do not like. With less than 0.01% of gun owners giving us all a bad name, it belies all of us who are responsible to help new owners to help ensure we all can maintain our right to bear arms and defend ourselves in these United States of America.