Decisions, decisions, decisions…..

Believe it or not, there is a lot of thought that should go into buying your first firearm.

What caliber do you choose? Revolver or Semi-Automatic? Easily concealed or bold and in your face “Dirty Harry” style? It’s a lot to consider.

Now, I am sure that ever single Tom, Dick and Harry is going to chime in with their “expert opinion” and that’s fine; but consider this if you will… What do you feel comfortable with?

You’ve already made the decision that your life is worth defending and that the best means to do that is with a firearm and training, but there are several variables to consider when purchasing your first firearm.

1- What is your firearm experience?

If you grew up around guns and have spent your whole life at the range and hunting, I’m pretty sure it is safe to say that the sky is the limit regarding your first firearm purchase.

If you have never even held a firearm before, let alone fired one, you might want to consider getting some training with a local Firearms Instructor. If you don’t know of any, your local firearm range and/or Federal Firearm Licensed Dealer (FFL) should know of someone and can make a recommendation. They would be all too happy to help you in your pursuit of self defense.

2- Is this firearm for home defense, Legal Concealed Carry or both?

These are actually VERY important things to consider when purchasing your first firearm. If the firearm is going to be just for the home, you need to consider size, caliber, surrounding environment, etc…

“What do you mean surrounding environment?”

I’m glad you asked. If you live in an apartment complex, or row home you don’t want a firearm that is so strong that in the event you should ever need to use it for defense, the projectile doesn’t hit the target and keep traveling through the wall and into the next apartment/home. One of the most important rules of firearm safety, is to be aware of your target, what surrounds it and what is beyond it. If this is a concern for you, you might want to consider a smaller caliber like a .380 ACP or a 9 mm instead of a 12 gauge shotgun or .44 Magnum revolver.

If this firearm is going to be for Legal Concealed Carry as well, you might want to consider your frame and stature as well. How big is the firearm? Can your body type easily allow for concealment and retrieval of the firearm should the need arise.?

3- Once your first firearm purchase is complete

a- Train with your firearm:

Know how to disassemble your firearm and how to properly maintain it. The FFL that you have purchased your firearm from should be able to help teach you how to do this and have the supplies and equipment you need to do this readily available for purchase.

Know how to use the firearm, how to correct any malfunctions that may occur safely and how to load and clear your firearm both in training situations as well as in a potential real life scenario.

Firearm usage is a skill set. The more you practice the better you become. Your body builds muscle memory and this will help aid you in any potential real life scenario.

b- KNOW YOUR STATES FIREARM LAWS

Every state is different when it comes to gun laws. I live in Pennsylvania, and here you must have a License to Carry if you’re going to Legally Carry Concealed. We are an “Open Carry” State, although not many do, and we do have what is called a Castle Doctrine. For years, Pennsylvania has had the “castle doctrine,” recently amended to include “stand your ground.” Many know the “castle doctrine,” the use of deadly force to defend your home against an intruder, but in 2011 Gov. Tom Corbett signed an expanded version of this, including a “Stand Your Ground” provision.

Castle Doctrine means under the following scenarios, the law will presume that use of deadly force was reasonable:

-Somebody is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering your dwelling, residence or car (provided you’re in the car);

-Somebody has unlawfully and forcefully entered your dwelling, residence or car (provided you’re in the car); or

-Somebody is or is attempting to unlawfully and forcefully remove you or somebody else —against the will of the individual being removed— from your dwelling, residence or car (If they’re removing you or trying to, it’s safe to say you’re in the car).

Stand Your Ground means the If you are attacked in a place where you would normally have a duty to retreat, provided certain criteria are met, you “[have] the right to stand [your] ground and use force, including deadly force.” according to the PLAGO (Pennsylvania Law Abiding Gun Owners).

-Must have a right to be in the place where you are attacked, and

-You must reasonably believe deadly force is immediately necessary to protect yourself from death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or sexual intercourse by force or threat.

-Most importantly, this law only applies if the attacker “displays or otherwise uses” a firearm, a replica of a firearm, or any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use. (Read More)

Owning a firearm is a massive responsibility and not a decision to be taken lightly. This may sound like an overwhelming amount of work, pressure and responsibility; and it is. However the safety and protection of you and your loved ones is worth it. Isn’t it?

*EDITORIAL NOTE*

This article is intended for the firearm laymen, and is intended to guide new firearm owners in the right direction. Proper firearm instruction from a credentialed and certified instructor is always the best course of action when purchasing a firearm for the first time.