Whether you have been around guns all your life or have never picked up a firearm before, being a first-time gun owner is an exciting milestone in your life. But as a first-time gun owner, there are a lot of things you need to learn to make the most out of this exciting time and to continue enjoying being a gun owner for years to come. To assist you, Liberty Safe has compiled some tips for first-time gun owners.
Do Your Homework Before Going to the Gun Shop
Being in a gun shop can be like being a kid in a candy shop between all the different types of firearms and accessories that are on display. Before going to the gun shop to purchase your first gun, you should already have a pretty good idea of what type of firearm you want to purchase.
Usually, the type of gun you choose depends on what you plan to use it for, like:
- Protecting your home and family
- Going hunting
- Going target shooting at an indoor or outdoor range
- Going skeet shooing
- Starting a gun collection as an investment or for show purposes
Types of Firearms Available
Knowing what you plan to use the gun for will give you a starting point at the gun store. It helps the staff steer you in the right direction by looking at categories of firearms that are recommended for certain uses, such as:
- Handguns/Pistols. These are smaller firearms that have shorter barrels. They have great accuracy due do the rifling within its thick barrel that is designed to withstand a lot of pressure. Because these guns are smaller than other types of guns, they are easier to carry and can be also shot with one hand if needed. They are great for protection, self-defense, and range shooting.
- Shotguns. These guns have long barrels that have a smooth bore instead of rifling that causes the ammunition to spin. A shotgun’s barrel is thinner than that of a handgun, so it does not handle as much pressure. These firearms are best for skeet shooting and bird hunting.
- Rifles. If you need a firearm for long-range hunting, a rifle is the one best designed to get the job done. It has a long, rifled barrel with thick walls that can withstand high pressures. Unlike a shotgun, a rifle is more accurate and able to fire bullets for longer distances. This makes a rifle great for both hunting and sport shooting.
- Semi-Automatic Rifles. A semi-automatic rifle is a type of rifle that self-loads and repeats to automatically cycle a new round after each shot. Unlike a fully automatic firearm, you do need to manually release the rifle’s trigger and reset the sear and hammer before you can pull the trigger to fire another shot.
Research the Gun Laws in Your State
As a first-time gun buyer, you should first research the gun laws that apply to your state and municipality. What may be legal in one state may not be legal in the next. Even if you are just purchasing a gun to protect your home and family, you do not want to risk breaking any gun laws that could prevent you from purchasing your gun now or potentially owning a gun in the future.
In the United States, each state is left to decide whether they will issue carry permits. There are two ways guns are carried, open carry and concealed carry. Some states allow open carry with a permit, without a permit, or not at all.
Conceal carry laws are also different from state to state and fall into one of three types:
- Constitutional carry/unrestricted carry where you do not need a permit. As of February 12, 2021, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota (residents only; concealed carry only), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah (effective May 5, 2021), Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming (residents only) do not require a permit to carry a loaded concealed firearm for any person of age who is not prohibited from owning a firearm.
- Shall issue where you need to meet your state’s legal requirements before you can receive the required permit.
- May issue where a permit is required, but it is very difficult to qualify for the permit.
There are a few good ways to learn more about the gun laws in your state or town. You could go online and look up the gun laws that apply to your state and municipality. A reputable gun dealer will also be able to tell you what you need to do to legally purchase a gun and what the laws and restrictions are for your state and municipality.
Can You Legally Buy a Gun?
While the Second Amendment gives U.S. citizens the right to bear arms, not all citizens are legally allowed to own firearms. The FBI has access to a great deal of data with its databases that it uses to run background checks on potential gun buyers.
Second Amendment - Right to Bear Arms
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
- Amdt2.1Overview of Second Amendment, Right to Bear Arms
- Amdt2.2Historical Background on Second Amendment
- Amdt2.3Early Second Amendment Jurisprudence
- Amdt2.4Heller and Individual Right to Firearms
- Amdt2.5Post-Heller Issues and Application of Second Amendment to States
- Amdt2.6Bruen and Concealed-Carry Licenses
To avoid embarrassment when trying to purchase your first gun, please consider these reasons that may make you ineligible purchase one:
- Previously being convicted of a serious crime or misdemeanor
- Being dishonorably discharged from the military
- Being indicted for a serious crime, but not yet convicted
- Being a fugitive from justice
- Prohibited by state because of being known as an abuser of drugs or alcohol
- Being subject to a restraining order because of threatening behavior, such as domestic violence
- Having been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
If you have concerns as to whether you are eligible to purchase a gun, speak to the staff at the gun store before applying for your gun permit.
Going to the Gun Shop
Once you have a good idea of what type of gun you want to buy and have some idea of what you can and cannot do with it in your state, you are ready to go gun shopping. However, you may still have a few questions. No problem, most good gun shops employ experienced and knowledgeable employees who should be happy to answer any questions you might still have as a first-time gun buyer. If they do not want to be bothered with questions, take your business elsewhere, because there are plenty of shops that would love to have your business.
Feel free to ask questions about the different guns you may be interested in. Don’t forget to ask what the pros and cons are of each and what permits, or specialty permits, you may need to apply for. Remember, you do not have to buy your gun at the first shop you go to. You can shop around to see if you can find a better price. You may also want to go to the gun range and rent the different types of firearms you are interested in before you invest in your own.
Try Before You Buy
You wouldn’t invest in a car without test driving it first, right? The same is true for buying your first gun. If you can rent one and try it out at a firing range, that’s great. But at a minimum, you should at least go through a few steps to determine whether the gun you are considering is right for you.
- See how the gun feels in your hand.
- Compare the way the gun feels to other guns.
- Is the gun too light or heavy in your hand?
- Grasp the gun firmly around its grip.
- Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
- See if you can easily maneuver the gun’s safety on and off.
You want to make sure that the gun is not too heavy or too big for your hand because you could have problems controlling it. You also want to be able to quickly turn the safety off and on so that you do not waste time when you need to take a shot fast.
Also consider what type of trigger action the firearm has because this will determine how the gun will load, lock, fire, extract, and eject when you pull its trigger. Common trigger actions include:
- Single action
- Double action Only
- Double action/single action
- Repeating actions
- Bolt action
- Lever action
- Pump action
What Will You Need to Purchase a Firearm?
Now that we have reviewed the nitty-gritty of what you should accomplish before purchasing your first firearm, let’s discuss what you will need to actually purchase it. In almost every state, you will need to provide a valid photo ID, such as your driver’s license or a current government-issued ID card, like a military ID.
In all states, you are required to fill out and sign an ATF Form 4473 Firearms Transaction Form. This form is where you will attest that you are legally eligible to purchase a gun and you are required by law to fill it out truthfully. Why? Because not only is the gun dealer going to review your information, but they are also required to submit your information to the FBI to be run through its three databases to do a background check. Some dealers may run your background check on the spot and receive an immediate response. The FBI may approve the gun sale, deny the gun sale, or delay the gun sale.
In some circumstances, the FBI may delay a yes or no because it needs additional information to make a final determination. The FBI then enlists the help of its Criminal Justice Information Services Division, who will have an examiner contact local law enforcement and other agencies to find that additional information. If the FBI does not issue a decision within three days, this is called a default proceed, and the licensed dealer may sell the firearm to the applicant.
After the ATF 4473 form has been approved, you have 30 days to finalize the purchase of your firearm. If you do not complete your purchase during that time, you will need to file another form. An approved form can only be used once for one transaction. If you want to purchase another firearm after your first purchase, even within those 30 days, you will need to file another form.
Best Safety Practices for After Purchasing Your First Firearm
As a first-time gun owner, you must also accept the responsibility of practicing gun safety. If you don’t, you put yourself, your family, and members of your community at risk.
Learn How to Use Your New Gun
You should get familiar with your gun and learn how to use it properly. Some gun stores and firing ranges offer classes on how to handle a firearm. In California, you must actually prove that you know how to safely handle a firearm before you can purchase it.
Practice Using Your Firearm
Practice makes perfect, so you are going to want to practice using your new firearm. The more you use it, the more comfortable you will be with shooting it. Make it a habit to go to your local firing range to practice often.
Securing and Storing Your Firearm
When you purchase a firearm, you are making an investment. Therefore, you want to do what you can to protect your investment. Environmental factors, like humidity, dust, and oil from your hands, can quickly cause gunmetal to rust, corrode, or tarnish. So, you will want to keep it clean and clean it every time you use your firearm. If it gets wet while outdoors, you should dry it off immediately.
You also will want to keep your firearm safe from theft or unauthorized access by children or individuals that have no business being anywhere near a gun. The best way to do this is by keeping your new firearm secured in a gun safe or gun vault.
Visit your local Liberty Safe dealer to see all your options for secure firearm storage.