As law abiding citizens, we are concerned with the consequences of our actions. Criminals are not. They just want what they want; repercussions are of no concern to them.
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution acknowledges our right to possess firearms, and I believe we have a duty to protect that right. How can we do that, you ask? The answer is simple. Avoid further legislation that infringes on gun rights by being educated gun owners. We Second Amendment proponents can all agree we want no further gun legislation. We can stop furnishing legislators any further ammunition — pun intended — to use against us. It is not our job to police criminals, but we can police ourselves.
Before you purchase a firearm, educate yourself on gun safety. I have been a professional shooter for most of my adult life. Safe gun handling should be the first thing you learn. Why? So as not to injure anyone else or yourself. Sound logical? You would think. However, I encounter people quite often that have little awareness of gun safety. I have had people hand me loaded guns and tell me they are unloaded. I have had individuals fire guns down range while I was down range. I literally have scores of stories about unsafe actions that have taken place at the firing range. These are occurrences that need never happen. The NRA has great resources for gun safety study and training. There is no reason to be ignorant of gun safety, as it is a very easy topic to master — and rewarding.
Following education about general gun safety comes the actual safe operation of firearms: properly loading, shooting, and unloading your firearm. Shooting is a great pastime and can be very satisfying. Learn from a professional how to safely and correctly operate all types of firearms.
Securing your firearm
The more intimate you are with your firearm the less likely you will experience difficulties operating it. Many people buy a firearm and put it somewhere in case they need it. This is not a prudent practice. Learn gun handling. After you acquire a new skill you need to keep in practice and keep your skills sharp. Again, the more you rehearse something the better you become at it.
Store your firearms correctly and securely. While it is your right to own firearms, it is your duty to secure them so you may control who has access to them. Yes, this is a reference to a gun safe. There are many ways besides a gun safe to store firearms, but it is one of the most secure methods available. If you cannot afford a gun safe, an alternative is to use gun locks and possibly a locker with a padlock. Keep in mind, if your guns cannot be found they cannot be stolen and misused. No legitimately armed citizen wants to be supplying guns to criminals or unauthorized users, so keep them under lock and key unless you are carrying them. For quick access, there are quite a few inexpensive biometric (requiring fingerprint authentication) and electronic mechanical keypad-type safes.
Stowing in a vehicle
Keep your car in mind when considering securing your firearms. Many city, county, state, and federal facilities do not allow firearms on their grounds. Obviously, if you are carrying a weapon you will have to leave it in your car while you tend to your business in one of those buildings. There are gun safes made specifically for automotive security. They generally have a locking box that uses a wire rope to attach to your seat frame, not totally theft-proof, but better than stowing in the glove box or under the seat. Keep your guns out of the wrong hands, period.
Citizens carrying concealed firearms? I am all for that, but . . . most states require that you take a class to be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Pennsylvania does not. I am not in favor of any new legislation, so I always advocate that you seek training on your own. If I meet someone new and they inform me they carry, I always work into the conversation some questions about their knowledge concerning when it is appropriate to use their weapon. I am frequently surprised that many people I talk to have little understanding of an appropriate response with a weapon. People usually just repeat statements they have heard over the years from other people. Generally, this information is incomplete or incorrect. I have trained with professionals, read extensively, and belong to an educational organization concerned with being an armed citizen (Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, Inc). This goes far beyond what most states require and with our complex legal system I still seek further enlightenment. In a nutshell, seek education before carrying a gun.
A disarmed citizenry?
Look at what is currently happening in Ukraine. You see the citizens of Ukraine fighting the government and other forces with sticks and homemade shields. You only see a firearm here and there. Do you know why? Because the Ukrainian citizens have been virtually disarmed. Look up their gun laws. They are very restrictive and limiting. If our government disarms us — which I feel is highly unlikely — we will all be in the same position, namely, at the mercy of our “regime.” Join the NRA! Whether you are a gun owner or not, if the Second Amendment falls, all the other amendments will all fall. I personally do not like everything the NRA does or says, but I support them and their mission 100 percent. You don’t need to agree with everything, but they are the only reason the Second Amendment is still intact.
• Learn and practice gun safety — search the NRA website, in particular, for safety instructions.
• Learn how to operate and shoot your firearms safely.
• Store your firearms correctly. Do not allow unauthorized access to your firearms.
• If you carry, pursue formal education on the appropriate use of lethal force.
• Gun owner or not, join the NRA. There is safety in numbers, and we need to make the numbers much bigger than they currently are.