Report 8: The Responsible Gun Owner

Owning and using firearms is older than America itself. In colonial days and the early days of the republic, owning and knowing how to use a gun meant that you had meat to put on the table, or it increased your personal security from predatory animals, two-legged or four-legged. Today, unless you live in some of the wilder parts of the country, the four-legged variety is much less of a problem than the two-legged variety. However, one aspect of gun use and ownership has not changed from the earliest days to today, and that is personal responsibility. I want to briefly discuss four specific areas that the responsible and thoughtful gun owner should consider, attitudes concerning gun use and ownership, security of their guns, teaching gun responsibility to children, and cleaning and maintaining guns. These should be considered on a regular basis by all who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Attitude. Responsible gun owners know how to control their emotions and let reason govern their actions. Just a few weeks ago here in El Paso County, Colorado, two neighbors argued over who had the right to use the sewer system. One neighbor got a gun and killed the other neighbor. I don’t care how critical the sewer system, I have a hard time understanding how the death of one individual made the situation any better. To continue in this vein, let’s say that someone has cut you off while driving down the street, or they have even done it multiple times. This is not a harassing situation, just a very rude and careless driver. Does this justify you brandishing your gun or pulling it out and eliminating the annoyance? I think not.

Remember, letting your temper claim control of a situation only takes away more logical options. When you take rash action in a heated moment, the law often gets involved in an unpleasant way. It is much better to swallow your pride and walk away than wind up on the wrong side of a felony or law suit. How you conduct yourself reflects not only on you, but all gun owners. The ethical use of firearms really takes the wind out of the sails of the gun-ban crowd.

Security of Guns. One important aspect of being a responsible gun owner is keeping your guns secure. Carelessly tossing your everyday carry gun on the shelf when you get home and not securing it out of reach of visitors, wanted or otherwise, and curious children is not responsible.

There are many fine quality safes on the market today to allow gun owners to securely store guns where they are readily available should the need arise. The most secure form of storage is the large weapons safe with a high quality dial combination. While this is very good, it is not readily accessible. For the readily accessible form of safe storage, I would recommend the type of small safe that is bolted to a shelf that is accessed by pressing four buttons in a preset (by the owner) configuration. A lot of folks like the biometric (fingerprint) style. For some of us, this style does not work. If you decide to go with the biometric style, be sure it will work for you before you buy it.

Children. With regard to gun ownership and use, the best way to teach youngsters how to be responsible around firearms is by example and clear, simple instruction.

One of the best ways to keep a young child safe is to teach them what the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program teaches, “If you see a gun: STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.”

As children grow older, supervised instruction in the use and care of firearms, with a strong emphasis on attitude as discussed above, adds to their safety awareness. Responsible gun ownership cannot be taught too young. When kids grow up knowing, understanding, and practicing responsible gun ownership, they become responsible adult gun owners.

Children are naturally drawn to things about which they know nothing. When a child happens to find the gun he did not know was in the house, tragic consequences can result. I recommend that you teach your kids about responsible gun ownership and use early. This early education starts with the “If you see a gun: STOP! Don’t touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.” mantra. And as discussed previously, keeping your firearms in a secure safe is a wise precaution to protect children who might not be able to resist just taking one look at their parents’ gun or showing their siblings or friends.

Clean and Maintain. While it may not be obvious, keeping your guns clean and in proper working order is also a part of being a responsible gun owner. I have seen a shooter use an older gun that had not been cleaned and maintained. When he tried to load a round, the chamber was so dirty that the round got stuck going in and the slide would not go into battery. A gunsmith had to use a mallet to get the slide to release and extract the live round. If this gun had been needed for a personal defense situation, it would not have been available. It also put the gunsmith who had to clear a live round out of the malfunctioning firearm in jeopardy. This is only one example of negligent maintenance that can cause a safety hazard.

In conclusion, the NRA succinctly describes “A Gun Owner’s Responsibilities” on page viii of just about all of their training manuals. I strongly recommend you go back to review this excellent paragraph on a regular basis.

Responsible ownership of guns is not just a matter of going out and buying your chosen firearm and throwing it in a drawer or on a shelf. Conscious, constant decisions and thought need to be exercised to ensure you and your guns are safe as well as your family and friends. For more information about advanced training options, contact Falcon Personal Security.