We’re going through one of those phases where people are talking about buying guns.
Rusty Shackelford is the latest.
You’d think that I’d clearly approve (of the general trend, not the specific decisions – I don’t know nearly enough to talk specifically about Dr. Shackelford). And part of me does, because it reflects a shift in the consensus away from “mere citizen” toward “citizen with the intent to be more self-reliant”.And, to be honest, I see this issue largely as one of attitude; I’ve said in the past that the largest impact of gun ownership is symbolic, like Sikh’s knives.
But it’s not entirely symbolic, and there’s the rub.
So let me take a moment and talk to the people who are reading the news and thinking of heading to the gun store.
First, go sleep on it. Owning a gun is, more than anything, a responsibility (one this too many people take far too lightly). You are responsible for the gun 24/7; are you prepared for that? Owning a gun doesn’t intrinsically make you safer; Jeff Cooper famously said that “owning a gun doesn’t make you a shooter any more than owning a piano makes you a musician”.
So you have to adopt a set of behaviors and habits along with the gun.
Some of them are about the security of the gun – keeping it from being stolen, or from letting children have access to it. Buy a gun safe. Use it religiously.
Some of it is about self-knowledge. There’s a little Deb Frisch in all of us. Is yours fully under control? If the answer to that question isn’t an immediate and obvious “Huh? Of course it is.” And if you aren’t 100% sure that 5 of your closest friends would answer the same way, think hard before you head to the gun store.
Some of it is about committing to some basic level of competence in order to make the gun a useful tool. There are classes you can and should take almost anywhere. They range from the big-time schools, like Gunsite, Insights, and Thunder Ranch (I’ve been to all of these and recommend them unqualifiedly) to local instructors like Mike Dalton here in Los Angeles, or others at ranges throughout the area you live.
If you can comfortably go that far, welcome. I need to get to the range this weekend…
If you can’t comfortably go that far, please don’t buy a gun. It’s that simple.