You’ve been thinking about it for a while, but you’re still not sure if it’s time to finally purchase a gun for your home. Unlike other protective measures like home security systems, gun ownership is more complicated than simply walking into a store and purchasing the first gun that catches your eye.
This article will cover pre-purchase considerations that every gun owner should walk through, as well as addressing how to be a safe and responsible gun owner.
Are you prepared to fire a gun at an intruder?
Guns’ potential lethality should be treated with respect. For new gun owners, understanding what kind of person you are under stress should be a major factor in your gun purchase decision.
- Are you calm under pressure?
- Do you freeze up when threatened?
- Will you be able to pull the trigger in a dangerous situation?
- Are you comfortable making split second judgement calls?
While training at a gun range on the weekend can help you develop the muscle memory to confidently pull a gun on an intruder, if you cannot bring yourself to kill another person, even in self-defense, then you should consider other home protective measures.
Proper training can help you overcome any nervousness you might have about handling a gun, but not everyone wants to take on the responsibilities that come with gun ownership.
What are the responsibilities of gun ownership?
Gun owners should feel comfortable with their weapons, and they should keep them in good working order. Regular cleaning and regular use can prevent the weapon from jamming in an emergency, and it can help the gun owner understand the particular quirks of their weapon.
To get comfortable with a personal weapon, you should consider purchasing a membership in a gun club, or setting aside time every month to practice at a shooting range. If you’re completely new to shooting, hire a personal gun instructor to teach you how to clean, load, and fire your gun without endangering the people around you.
Guns and Mental Health
Six-in-ten gun-related deaths are suicides, according to Pew Research. Responsible gun owners should keep in mind that family members or friends with suicidal ideations are more likely to be successful when they attempt suicide with a gun. Keep guns safe by locking them up when they’re not in use.
Guns and Personal Safety
When handling a gun, you should always treat it like it’s loaded, even if it’s not. Getting into the habit of treating every gun like it’s a weapon will help you prevent accidents. Don’t rely on the safety to prevent accidental shooting, and don’t point your gun casually at someone else.
What does gun safety look like?
A curious child is a dangerous, unpredictable factor in gun ownership. You should never place a gun just out of reach of a child hoping that it won’t be found. Practice good gun safety by locking up your weapon anytime it’s not in use by yourself. Even if you don’t have a child in your home, getting in the habit of keeping your gun locked up can prevent accidents when neighbors or friends come over with their children.
By purchasing a heavy gun safe, or one that is attached to your home, you’re not only child-proofing your weapon, but also theft-proofing. It’s a lot harder to walk away with a stash of guns when they’ve been bolted to the frame of a home. If buying a gun is all about protection for you, you don’t want your weapon to easily be stolen by a burglar.
There is some debate over whether a home-defense weapon should be stored loaded with ammunition. For some cautious homeowners, removing bullets and storing the gun unloaded adds an extra layer of safety if there are children in the home. For more confident gun owners, storing a gun loaded means that they can have a faster response time in the event of an intrusion. Whichever option you choose, your decision should be consistent so that you’re not unprepared in an emergency situation.
What are the true costs of gun ownership?
Don’t make the assumption that the cost of gun ownership is just the gun. The average cost of gun ownership in the U.S. is $1600, with the costs breaking down roughly in this way:
- Gun – $700
- Ammunition – $200
- Gun Accessories- $300
- Lesson Fees – $300
- Licensing Fees – $0-175
Some of these are one-time costs, like the gun’s purchase. But others are ongoing costs, like license renewal fees, and ammunition. If you’re practicing monthly at the range to get comfortable with your weapon, you’ll need to factor the regular purchase of ammunition into your budget. Purchasing a gun with more expensive ammunition may discourage you from practicing often, so make sure you can afford the total cost of a gun before committing to a certain make and model.
These costs are just estimates of course, and will vary depending on the type of weapon you choose, your experience, and the state you live in. But these numbers are a starting point so that you won’t be surprised by the cost of gun ownership.
What type of gun should you buy to protect your home?
It’s common for new gun owners to come into a gun shop with preconceived ideas about what kind of gun they want to buy. Maybe they want a weapon that looks just like Dirty Harry’s gun, or they love Olivia Benson’s piece on Law & Order.
One of the most important factors in your gun choice is how it feels in your hand. The gun grip should feel comfortable, with consideration given to the weight of the gun. A 120-pound woman and a 250-pound man will have different grip strength, and they may not love the same kind of gun.
Reliable guns, like the Beretta M9A1, are a good choice for homeowners because they have a smaller recoil and are lighter than most pistols. Another good choice is the Ruger 22/45 Lite because it’s very accurate and extremely light. However, the Ruger isn’t a great choice for novice gun owners. When choosing a gun, you’ll find that your choices will depend on:
- Your shooting ability
- If you’re right- or left-handed
- Your confidence when firing
- How much maintenance the gun needs
- Your technical skills
If you’re a first-time gun buyer, you can check out this Beginners Guide to Buying Your First Gun. Don’t be shy about asking questions when you’re purchasing a gun. Gun sellers love talking about their industry, and they want you to be a happy, repeat customer.
Where is the best place to buy a gun for home use?
When you’re in the research stage of your gun purchase, it’s a better idea to shop in person for a gun. You have the opportunity to ask questions from the gun owner, and you can figure out what kind of gun just feels right in your hands. Once you reach the purchase stage, you have a few different choices for where to purchase your weapon.
You can check out a gun shop’s reputation before you even set foot inside. Give their reviews a good look to see what their customers say about their stock, their return policy, and their prices. If you have any problems with a gun, you can go back to the gun shop and talk it over with the owner or associates.
There might be some stigma around buying a used gun from a pawn shop, but as long as you ask the right questions, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just like purchasing from a gun shop, you’ll be able to hold the gun and get a feel for it in your hands. Unlike a gun shop though, the selection might be hit and miss in both quality and quantity.
If you’re looking for a hard-to-find gun, a gun show might be your best bet. But you might also find yourself talked into something unsuitable for your home defense needs. Do a little research before the gun show to have a good idea of what you want. If you’re buying a pre-owned gun, you could be taking a chance on its condition. You definitely want to avoid impulse buys at a gun show since returning a gun could be impossible.
Every online marketplace is not created equally, so you should vet carefully the website or seller’s reputation before purchasing through them. You’ll also need to know a lot about gun specs so you can sort through the online options to find the right gun for yourself. And of course, you can’t test how a gun feels in your hands. But if you already know what you want, an online marketplace can be a good option for you.
What are the legalities of gun ownership?
There are both federal and state gun laws that govern gun ownership, and state gun laws vary considerably. Check your state laws for guidance on:
- Concealed or open carry
- Individual firearm registration
- Guns licenses or permits
- Peaceable journey laws
- Red flag laws
If your primary purpose to purchase a gun is for self-defense, you’ll especially want to be well-versed in your state’s Stand-Your-Ground Law, sometimes called castle doctrine. This type of law provides a legal basis for using deadly force in a home invasion, or to defend against a kidnapping, robbery, or some other serious crime. The definition can vary state by state, so you should understand the law in your own state.
Take some time to research your gun purchase so that you can feel confident if or when you finally buy it. It’s definitely a lifestyle change to step into gun ownership, but for many people, they feel safer knowing that they can protect themselves and their families.