Gun control is the news lately, so I want to address it. Not the way you are probably thinking of gun control, though.
President Obama and liberal/progressive politicians across the country have been doing wonders for the firearms industry. The number of background checks conducted, firearms sold, and ammunition flying off the shelf has risen exponentially. Many of you are probably buying guns for the first time ever. With that in mind, I want to take a moment to pass along a few gun safety and handling tips I’ve learned over the years.
These tips have been culled from years of training both within and without the military. For a few years, I supported special forces units and had the opportunity to attend some really advanced courses on firearms and shootings. If you find this list helpful, please share with those you know in the hopes that they help someone.
1) If you keep a weapon in your home for self defense, you don’t need a laser. Lasers are helpful for quick target acquisition, but if you MUST use one I recommend pairing it with a good flashlight. There have been cases where a family member has come home late at night. The gun owners grabbed their weapons and activated the laser. The problem is that all they saw was a sillhouette and didn’t realize they were aiming at a family member.
Most pistols these days come with rails to which you can mount a flashlight or other device. You can’t go wrong with a small flashlight. It may save a life.
2) PRACTICE. PRACTICE PRACTICE. There is no such thing as too much practice. It’s only limited by the amount of money you can afford to spend on ammunition. Go to the range often learn as many aspects of handling and firing your weapon as possible. If you keep your weapon holstered, practice with that holster.
When it comes to ammunition, don’t skimp on the actual ammo you’ll keep in your gun at home. However, at the range, it doesn’t really matter. Because most handguns are used at such close range, trajectory usually isn’t an issue. At longer distances, rounds react differently once they leave the barrel. this can vary from brand to brand and between hollow points and full metal jacket.
Work on reflexive drawing and pay special attention to finger awareness. You should train yourself not to automatically place your finger on the trigger as soon as you draw the weapon. This may lead to prematurely discharging the firearm and injuring yourself or others.
3) Find a holster you’re comfortable with and STAY WITH IT. Instead of explaining why, I’ll let “Tex” Grebner, an experienced shooter and instructor, explain why going from holster to holster is a bad idea. In a nutshell, you lose muscle memory.
4) This is probably going to be controversial, but don’t use a gun lock for your home defense weapon. When a situation arises in which you need to defend yourself, the last thing you want to have to wrestle with is finding a key to unlock your weapon, usually in the dark. Obviously, you want to keep your gun out of reach of small children, but your weapon should be ready to go from the moment you reach for it.
5) Which leads me to this tip: always keep your weapon in the same place. I won’t say where I keep my weapon at night (actually I have several), but I always put in the same place. This way, I know EXACTLY where the gun is when I need it and I can pick it up without having to turn on lights or stumble around. Much like the gun lock, the last thing you need to worry about when your home is being broken into is remembering where you put your gun.
6) Choose a gun you are comfortable with. All these tips mean nothing if you never practice with your firearm or you don’t feel comfortable with it. A gun should feel comfortable when you grip it. Some pistol grips are thicker than others. If your fingers can’t wrap around the pistol grip, it’s probably too big. Settling for a smaller pistol grip doesn’t mean you have to own a less-lethal weapon. Probably the best-selling concealed carry pistol out right now is a .45 ACP Springfield Armory single-stack XDS pistol (seen above). While a .45 ACP packs a lot of punch, it’s easy to grip and maintain steady aim due to brilliant weight distribution. However, women may be more comfortable with a 9mm or .380 caliber pistol.
Other areas you want to pay attention to when selecting a gun are cost of ammo, ease of cleaning, ease of loading/unloading, and slide tension. One of the pistols I carry the most is my XD40. Because of the spring tension on the slide, my wife can’t rack the slide to chamber a round. Obviously, this is not the pistol she would want to use.
7) Have a plan. In the event that you find yourself in a position where you need to defend yourself with a firearm, it’s important that the entire family have a plan for dealing with that. The last thing you need is for everyone to be running around the house flipping out, which prevents you from safely being able to deal with the threat.
Have a safe room pre-designated. Depending on the situation, have everyone meet in that safe room if your home is broken into. If that is not feasible, instruct kids to get under their bed (or get between their beds and the furthest wall) as soon as possible. Make sure that you practice these drills. It’s important that kids understand how important it is that they don’t go running all over the house if they are scared.
8) Train your kids on safe handling and use of a firearm. Every single one of my kids knows how to shoot every single weapon I own in the house, from my youngest 11-year old daughter to my oldest 17-year old daughter. They know where I keep my guns and how to access them if needed.
There is a lot of discussion out there about keeping guns away from children. How in the world did our grandparents ever survive when every house had a revolver or a rifle? Listening to today’s talking heads, we never should have survived the 1800’s. My kids know how to shoot. They also know WHY they need to know how to shoot and WHEN it is legal and safe to do so. They know that there may come a day when they may very well be the one person that can save their mom or dad or siblings.
I don’t teach my kids to fear firearms. I teach them to respect them. I have shown them the destructive power of each of these weapons (pumpkins and watermelons are perfect for this demonstration). They know how to load, unload, chamber, shoot, and clear every weapon. They know how to clean them. And they understand that you never put your finger on the trigger or aim at something until you’re ready to shoot at it. They understand the importance of life and that we have no right to take another person’s life unless ours is in danger.
9) Finally, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you felt the need to defend yourself or your family with deadly force, think before you speak. You NEVER want to say that you shot to kill. If there’s one thing you remember from this post it’s this:
When asked why you felt the need to shoot the suspect, you respond that you did so because you felt threatened and you were trying to stop the threat. Again, you shot because you felt threatened. Nothing more, nothing less. “Why did you shoot him 20 times?” “I shot until I no longer felt threatened.”
I can’t say it any simpler than that. Others online will tell you that you should never speak to the police after a shooting. Only criminals wouldn’t explain that they shot because they were threatened. When you clam up and demand a lawyer, you’re automatically suspect. Regardless, you should always seek legal counsel after such a shooting just in case. There are many companies, including the NRA, offer “self-defense insurance” that probably isn’t a bad idea to purchase. In the event that you have to use your firearm for self-defense, your legal defense will be paid for.
I hope you found this somewhat helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.