For generations, the tradition of firearms ownership was a family affair—fathers passed down their knowledge of guns and shooting to their sons. As our nation grew, wives and daughters began taking to the field and learned to use firearms to defend the home. It was simply expected for every member of the American household to be able to safely and effectively use firearms.
Then came the modern, “enlightened” era. Men and women were deceived into believing only their personal pleasure was important. Self-gratification was all they needed. Matters such as protecting the family and home were best left to others. The government, through local police agencies, was now responsible for protecting the homestead—not the father and mother.
As members of our society abdicated their personal responsibilities, the generational chain began to break down. Sons were no longer taught by their fathers to use firearms. Brides demanded their new husbands get rid of their guns and the “enlightened” husband acquiesced. These people were satisfied that, at some future date, they could always obtain guns if and when they wanted.
New modern era
Today, rather than commuting to work in flying cars, living in underwater cities or taking vacations to the moon, fathers and mothers have lost their jobs and homes. Disposable income has shrunk and retirement plans have shriveled. Natural and man-made disasters have brought mob violence and widespread looting directly to the front doorstep. The threat of terrorism continues to nag at the mind of responsible citizens.
For those of us who never left the fold, we watch with quiet amazement every time there is a riot or disaster as the “enlightened” people flock to gun stores looking forthe same “barbaric” tools they once eschewed. Historically, a post-disaster spike in firearm sales and interest in personal defense is over rather quickly.
When we consider the sales figures of personal-defense firearms and ammunition over the last few years, it seems the situation is no longer a spike, but rather a genuine trend. I have many close friends who are firearms instructors, and they all report the number of new shooters attending their classes—particularly women—has risen dramatically.
Serving the new gun owner
Given the thousands upon thousands of new gun owners in the United States, it only makes sense for us to take a moment to consider how we, the faithful ones, can best help them or serve their needs. Let’s break this discussion down into a few different categories, beginning with firearm manufacturers.
While those in the firearm industry are not perfect, for the last several years they have indeed been gearing new products toward the novice gun owner. Walking into a gun store to purchase your first firearm can be a pretty daunting task. There is so much from which to choose, and gun people all speak their own language.
Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Glock, Springfield Armory, Kel-Tec, Kahr Arms and SIG Sauer all come immediately to mind, because they have introduced or reintroduced handguns that are uncomplicated and affordable. And that is really what the novice shooter needs—a gun that fits their budget and one they can operate without difficulty. Many of these manufacturers are offering pistol kits complete with a holster and magazine pouch.
When it comes to choosing ammunition, the task is complicated by the fact so many different loads are available for each chambering. Many ammo manufacturers—Federal, Winchester, Remington and Hornady, to name a few—have updated their packaging and specifically labeled the boxes as “Personal Defense” or “Home Defense.”
Several firearms and ammunition manufacturers have hired big-name professional trainers to perform live instruction and YouTube videos in an effort to educate the public. Television shows such as “Best Defense,” “Personal Defense TV” and “Student of the Gun” all reach out to new and experienced gun owners alike.
Alright guys, suck it up because I’m talking to you. Let’s say, for whatever reason, your wife has decided she wants to learn to shoot and she wants a gun. Great! Now stop yourself and realize this: You are the last person in the world who should be teaching your wife to shoot. Think about it. In your wife’s eyes, you are the man who forgets to buy milk, leaves the toilet seat up and sniffs his T-shirts to see if they are still clean enough to wear. I truly believe Albert Einstein’s wife once said, “Some genius you are, you can’t even remember to comb your hair.”
I have taught thousands of police officers, military personnel and citizens (young and old) to use rifles, pistols and shotguns, but when my wife wanted to get her concealed-carry permit I found someone else to train her. Do yourself a favor—keep the divorce lawyers out of the situation and find a reputable, professional instructor to teach your wife to shoot.
When it comes to what gun, specifically a handgun, to buy for your wife, remember this: The gun is for her. Handing down your old pistol to your wife so you have an excuse to buy a new one is not cool. After your wife has some training and experience, let her pick out her own gun. Buying a new gun and then taking training can be a waste of time and money. Borrowed or rented guns are a lot more cost effective. Too often, folks will buy a brand-new gun before they get training, only to find out afterward they don’t like how the gun feels or operates.
Along the same lines, your favorite gun is not necessarily going to be your wife’s favorite. And, for the love of all that is holy, please stop buying your wives compact .40-caliber pistols. To your lovely wife it’s like having a firecracker detonate in her hands with every shot. A 9 mm or .380 ACP pistol that a person enjoys shooting is a far better choice than a sharper-recoiling gun they only tolerate.
I recently had a husband-and-wife team show up for training with two brand-new pistols—a Glock 22 for him and a Glock 23 for her. The small-statured, inexperienced wife struggled for the entire live-fire portion of the class. She was literally being taught to flinch with every shot. Guys, park your machismo and stop handing your wives and girlfriends hard-kicking blasters. They’ll gut it out and shoot the guns to please you, but most won’t enjoy the experience, nor will they voluntarily do it again.
We all know the range gurus, the guys who spend more time on the range bragging and talking than they do shooting. They love to regale you with tales of their favorite guns and opinions about the best this or that. It’s all well and good, but new shooters don’t need to hear war stories and tall tales from the sidelines, they need encouragement.
The second-most intimidating thing for a novice gun owner to do after they’ve purchased a gun is to go to a public range and shoot it. Whether real or perceived, they feel as though all eyes are upon them, judging them with each shot. Many novice shooters are driven away by arrogant or condescending range gurus. Don’t be that guy. Remember, you were the new guy once yourself. Take a second to listen to the new shooter before you begin to tell them what gear they should have bought. If their gun and gear doesn’t work for them, sooner or later they’ll figure it out.
The good news is, we are slowly but surely moving back toward gun ownership being a common thing in American households. The anti-gun ninnies can keep screaming the lies about how you are 1,000 times more likely to be killed with your own gun than to stop a burglar, but the American public, in ever-increasing numbers, has grown to realize the truth.
Every day, novice shooters and new gun owners are entering the fold. What these folks need is for us to nurture their interest, not overwhelm them with our opinions. The firearm industry is providing products for the new shooter and certified instructors are offering classes to train newcomers. The last piece of the puzzle is you, the experi-enced gun guy. You are the neighbor, coworker, husband, uncle or friend who can make the difference and welcome the new shooter and gun owner to the fold.