E022 - A Brief Introduction to Firearms Ownership
This week Rich and I kick off a multi-part series about firearms. This episode covers some basics you need to know like firearms safety rules and safe storage, legalities, and the basic mechanics of the purchase process.
Why You Might Want to Own a Firearm
This is important to define before buying a firearm. Firearms are tools. Just like the tools in your toolbox, you should use the right firearm for the job.
Self Defense. This is probably the single biggest reason people today purchase firearms.
Preparedness. As we discussed in the All Hazards Preparedness show, firearms are an important component of being well prepared.
Hunting. You may choose to hunt your own meat.
Personal Hobby. Some people own firearms because they are collectors, enjoy casual range sessions, or are just fascinated by firearms.
Inheritance. You may inherit firearms whether you want them or not.
Legal, Ethical, and Financial Obligations of Firearms Ownership
Legal Obligations. You need to know the laws pertaining to firearms in your jurisdiction. This includes federal, state, county, and city/town laws. You also need to know:
The firearms and accessories (like magazines and certain ammunition) that you can own in your area,
How you are legally obligated to store firearms,
Laws regarding the carry and/or transport of firearms,
Laws regarding the sale of firearms.
Ethical Obligations: At a minimum you are ethically obligated to:
Handle the firearm in a safe manner,
Prevent the firearm from falling into irresponsible hands, like those of children,
Prevent the firearm from falling to criminal hands,
Report the theft of firearms, and
Get trained in the safe manipulation of your firearm.
Financial Obligations. You need to focus on more than the purchase price of the firearm.
Storing a firearm requires purchasing some sort of safe-storage device,
If you shoot your gun you will need to purchase personal protective equipment like
Becoming proficient with a firearm requires you spend money on ammunition, range fees, and training,
You may have to pay for permits, and
Should you actually use a firearm in self defense, your legal defense may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Firearms Safety Rules
These safety rules are extremely well known among shooters. However, it never hurts to re-familiarize yourself with them. If you don’t know them, you should spend some time memorizing them, and what they actually mean. If followed to the “T” these rules ensure that your gun won’t go off negligently, and if it does it won’t hit anything important.
Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. There is no such thing as “conditional” gun handling, i.e. you cannot treat a firearm differently depending on what condition it is in (loaded condition, unloaded condition, etc.).
Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy. Anything that comes in line with the muzzle of the firearm is at grave risk of being shot. NEVER point the firearm at anything you are not willing to accept full legal, ethical, and financial responsibility for.
Keep your finger straight and off the trigger unless you are shooting. Your finger should never be inside the trigger guard of the firearm unless you are actually shooting. This prevents you from pulling the trigger if, for example, you fall or are started and the muscles in your hands tense up.
Know your target and consider its foreground and background. Know your target. Know what is behind it, should you miss or should the bullet pass through. Know what is between you and your target.
The Firearm Purchase Process
Purchasing a firearm can be a daunting process.
Select your Firearm. We will have a full episode covering this in the future.
Permits. In some states you may have to have some sort of permit to purchase certain firearms or any firearms. Two examples are North Carolina and Massachusetts.
North Carolina: to purchase a handgun you must have a pistol purchase permit, which can be obtained from the sheriff’s office for $5. The sheriff’s office will run a background check and call you when the purchase permit is ready. If you have a concealed carry permit you do not need a pistol purchase permit, but you will need one or the other.
In Massachusetts you need to have license to own or purchase any firearms. The licensing system works on a tiered “Class A, B, or C” system. This permit will need to be obtained well in advance of purchasing a firearm.
Waiting Periods. In some states there is a waiting period of up to 10 days before you can pick up a purchased handgun, and you may be limited to purchasing one firearm every 10 days.
Fill out BATF Form 4473. This contains biographical information about you, and some information about the firearm being purchased.
NICS Check. The information on 4473 will be ran through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to see if you are legal to purchase the firearm.
Straw Purchases. YOU must buy the firearm for YOU. Never buy a firearm for someone else. If they need you to conduct the transaction for them, you should be asking yourself, “why?”
Traveling into jurisdictions with unfamiliar firearms laws. Crossing state lines could take you from being perfectly legal to committing a felony. KNOW THE LAW for the areas surrounding your state.
Be careful listening to gun store “experts”. There is a ton of bad information in gun stores. Vet your information carefully before relying on it.