Im­por­tant Con­sid­er­a­tions for First-Time Gun Buy­ers

Home Defender - - Contents - By Ryan Lee Price

How to buy a gun. How to store it. How to clean it. Train­ing. In this primer, you'll find out ev­ery­thing you need to know about be­com­ing a gun owner for the first time.

Even with many chan­nels on a 24-hour news cy­cle and the In­ter­net a never-end­ing pipe­line of in­for­ma­tion, the Amer­i­can pub­lic only hears of a scant sliver of the many do­mes­tic crimes—rob­beries, bur­glar­ies, home in­va­sions—that hap­pen around the coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to the FBI, there are around 1.8 mil­lion bur­glar­ies re­ported in the United States each year, with fi­nan­cial losses re­lated to these crimes es­ti­mated at around $4 bil­lon. The av­er­age dol­lar loss per bur­glary is cal­cu­lated to be $2,251. Add to that the per­sonal in­jury sus­tained by vic­tims who have the mis­for­tune to be home dur­ing those rob­beries, and the risks as­so­ci­ated with these crimes es­ca­lates.

More peo­ple are tak­ing an in­ter­est in pro­tect­ing them­selves by pur­chas­ing a record num­ber of firearms so far in 2017, but there are many con­sider-


ations one should con­tem­plate be­fore head­ing to your lo­cal firearms store. The man with the an­swers is Si­mon Cruz Jr., the di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Dou­ble Tap Train­ing Cen­ter in Granada Hills, Calif., a fa­cil­ity that teaches not only firearms safety and main­te­nance classes, but tac­ti­cal shoot­ing cour­ses, close-quar­ter bat­tle tac­tics, and se­cu­rity/first re­spon­der cour­ses.


The idea of pro­tect­ing your­self and your fam­ily at all costs is a noble en­deavor that no man would shrink from, but are you a gun per­son?

Are you pre­pared to take a life if nec­es­sary? Do you feel that by own­ing a firearm, you have the con­fi­dence and where­withal to op­er­ate it quickly and safely, un­der mas­sive amounts of stress if the rea­son should call for it? Would you have both the psy­cho­log­i­cal com­po­sure and shoot­ing skill to han­dle a po­ten­tially deadly en­counter with only sec­onds to make a life-or­death de­ci­sion?

If you an­swer no to any of these, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a gun. It just means that you might not be ready for one yet. It also means you might lack the ex­pe­ri­ence you need to be con­fi­dent with a firearm, which is com­mon for many first-time gun buy­ers. This can change with am­ple amounts of train­ing.


So, you live in a great neigh­bor­hood with a very low crime rate. You know all your neigh­bors, and you have no prob­lem walk­ing the streets at night.

Why do you need a gun?

Is there any like­li­hood you’ll need a firearm to de­fend your­self from an armed home in­va­sion, a car-jack­ing or any other num­ber of as­saults? Ac­cess the real risk po­ten­tial of your cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. What are the crime stats in your area? Women and the el­derly are more likely to be vic­tims of crimes.

Re­gard­less of need ver­sus want, odds are good you own a fire ex­tin­guisher (but has your house ever caught fire?). It is im­por­tant to be pre­pared for the worst sit­u­a­tion you can imag­ine be­cause when that sit­u­a­tion con­fronts you, it is bet­ter to be pre­pared than to be a vic­tim. De­spite the ac­tual crime-risk level in your area, don’t take un­nec­es­sary chances or vol­un­tar­ily sur­ren­der to be­come a vic­tim with­out putting up a fight.


The best place to start is to find out



what kind of firearm you may think you’ll need … a hand­gun, shot­gun or AR-15.

An 1853 En­field mus­ket won’t do very well for home de­fense, but would look great in your col­lec­tion, while a .45 cal­iber Glock 37 can pack a pow­er­ful punch for self-de­fense, but it might not make a good home de­fense weapon if you live in a thin­walled apart­ment.

Visit your lo­cal gun store and ask as many ques­tions as you can … and you’ll likely to get a lot of dif­fer­ent an­swers. How­ever, in choos­ing a gun, con­sider your per­sonal char­ac­ter­is­tics. What is your body stature and hand size? Do you have any ex­pe­ri­ence with firearms at all? How likely will you use it reg­u­larly (or at all)?

Pick up and han­dle sev­eral guns in your price, in­ter­est and size range. How do they feel in your hand? Too heavy? Too long? Too thick? Si­mon sug­gests that, “The buyer has to fit the hand­gun he/she is buy­ing. I rec­om­mend try­ing dif­fer­ent brands and cal­ibers to see what fits the best. It’s just like buy­ing a car. Test drive first.” See our side­bar “Fac­tors to Con­sider” for more in­for­ma­tion.


The ac­tual process of buy­ing a gun can be quite com­plex, but any com­pe­tent gun shop owner will be able to guide you through the process. Still, it is an ex­cel­lent idea to know what you’re in for, be­cause, as the owner of a firearm, it is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to un­der­stand and com­ply with all fed­eral, state and lo­cal laws re­gard­ing firearms own­er­ship.

In Cal­i­for­nia, for ex­am­ple, one of the strictest states in which to buy a gun, you must be 18-years old to buy a ri­fle or shot­gun and 21 to buy a hand­gun. You also need a valid driver’s li­cense or state-is­sued ID.

If you’re not sure if you can legally own a firearm, you can al­ways fill out a Per­sonal Firearms El­i­gi­bil­ity Check, pay the $20 fil­ing fee and wait the 60 days for the re­sults. Bar­ring that, you’ll need a Firearms Safety Cer­tifi­cate show­ing that you have passed a writ­ten safety test (ei­ther on­line or in per­son at a firearms train­ing cen­ter). That will cost you $25. When passed, you can legally pur­chase a firearm in the state of Cal­i­for­nia. Other states may dif­fer.

Once in the gun shop, you’ll need to fill out an ATF Form 4473 and a Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) form, which will cost an ad­di­tional $25. And you’ll need to pro­vide your right thumb print.

There is a manda­tory 10-day wait­ing pe­riod be­fore the dealer can de­liver your gun. Dur­ing this time, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice con­ducts a “firearms el­i­gi­bil­ity back­ground check,” the pur­pose of which is to en­sure you are not pro­hib­ited from own­ing a firearm. In Cal­i­for­nia, there are sev­eral ways in which you may be in­el­i­gi­ble to pur­chase a gun, in­clud­ing, but not limited to, con­vic­tion for any mis­de­meanor listed in Pe­nal Code sec­tion 29805, con­vic­tion of a felony, nar­cotics ad­dic­tion, men­tal in­com­pe­tence and other rea­sons.

You will also have to prove you own a safe or have pur­chased a gun lock. You will be given a safe han­dling demon­stra­tion, and sign a form say­ing you com­pleted it.

It isn’t easy to buy a gun—at least in Cal­i­for­nia—so the de­ci­sion shouldn’t be taken lightly. In other states, there are no wait­ing pe­ri­ods, or the wait­ing pe­ri­ods are less. And, most states use a NICS (Na­tional In­stant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check) sys­tem.


Where will you keep it? In a safe in the garage? In your night­stand? This may de­ter­mine how read­ily you can reach it in an emer­gency and how quickly you’ll need to get it. If you are con­cerned about break-ins and per­sonal as­saults be­cause you live in a bad neigh­bor­hood, you’ll want to keep it close (con­sider a hand­gun safe with a quick combo), whereas if you are wor­ried about less fre­quent dan­gers (per­haps you live near a prison), keep­ing a ri­fle or shot­gun in a safe will suf­fice.

“There are dif­fer­ent types of pis­tol safes nowa­days that are dis­creet and can be se­cured and opened us­ing the owner’s bio­met­rics (fin­ger­prints) or com­bi­na­tion codes,” re­minds Si­mon. “Any locked cab­i­net or drawer would also do. Plac­ing the se­cured firearm in a higher stor­age area also keeps chil­dren from reach­ing it.”


Train­ing can­not be ne­glected. Once you have your gun, it’s crit­i­cal to get the hands-on time at a range.

“It is very im­por­tant to get the spe­cific train­ing for the gun you have, or the one you are about to pur­chase,” says Si­mon. “I highly rec­om­mend train­ing with NRA-cer­ti­fied train­ing coun­selors and pis­tol in­struc­tors. NRA-cer­ti­fied train­ers ad­here to na­tional stan­dards of teach­ing pis­tol own­ers how to own and op­er­ate a pis­tol safely.” Re­mem­ber that firearm train­ing classes are more than just about how to shoot. You will learn how to avoid po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous en­coun­ters, and you’ll learn home and out­door de­fense tac­tics.

Cruz, who has been a firearms trainer and range mas­ter for over 25 years, sug­gests: “First, take a for­mal pis­tol course that in­cludes proper dis­as­sem­bly/as­sem­bly and clean­ing the gun. Sec­ond, have qual­ity clean­ing sup­plies. And third, learn to func­tion check the gun after clean­ing and be­fore live-fir­ing.”


In essence, your goal is to be­come a safe firearm owner who knows gun safety rules, and have a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of the com­plete op­er­a­tion and safe han­dling of your gun. The ac­tual shoot­ing por­tion of your train­ing isn’t meant to make you An­nie Oakley, but in­stead in­still you with the con­fi­dence to op­er­ate a firearm in a po­ten­tially stress­ful sit­u­a­tion prop­erly and safely. HD

When you be­gin your search for the right gun, do a thor­ough search be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion. The AR-15 is a solid choice for a home de­fense weapon.

Photo: Ter­rill Hoff­man If you opt for a shot­gun as your home de­fense

xwx­exapon, con­sider that ex­perts point out their re­li­a­bil­ity, sim­plic­ity and tac­ti­cal use­ful­ness.

Bot­tom: Train­ing is crit­i­cal. To main­tain your skills, get to the range on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Top: Get a feel for a gun be­fore you buy it. Si­mon Cruz says try dif­fer­ent brands and cal­ibers. “It’s just like buy­ing a car,” he says.

When you pur­chase a firearm, make sure you know, un­der­stand and com­ply with all fed­eral, state and lo­cal laws.

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