Pulling the trigger on your first gun purchase is a big step in every aspiring gun owner's life. However, making the decision to own a firearm comes with a serious set of responsibilities, so it is in your best interest to carefully consider these responsibilities prior to making your purchase.
Read on for 6 key questions you should ask yourself before you buy your first gun.
1. What Will You Use It For?
Perhaps the most important question you will need to ask yourself as a potential gun owner is what you will use your gun for. Will it be for concealed carry? Home defense? Hunting? Casual plinking? 3 Gun? Whatever the answer, it's important to make sure that the gun you intend to purchase matches its intended use. Countless shooters have inadvertently purchased full-sized pistols when searching for a concealed carry option. A firearm is a major purchase, and it's important to do your research before you head to your FFL.
2. Do You Have a Safe Place to Keep It?
When it comes to guns, safety should never be an afterthought. When you take your gun home for the first time, it's important that you have a safe, secure place to keep it—otherwise your new purchase can become a serious hazard. Every responsible gun owner should have a gun safe or a comparably safe and secure location to store their firearm—especially if they live in a home with young children. Children are curious by nature, and a gun that's simply hidden in a drawer or under your bed will almost certainly be found by an inquisitive child.
3. Does This Gun Suit Your Needs?
Every gun is different. High capacity or standard capacity? Polymer or metal? Single action or double action? Revolver or semi automatic? 9MM or 10MM? These details can make or break a person's preference for their firearm and could be the reason you end up leaving a gun in the safe when you pack up to head to the range. With this in mind, you'll want to think about how you plan to use your gun and analyze how each of your options measures up against your intended use. If you're planning to carry concealed, will you want a smaller gun that holds fewer rounds for easier concealment, or a larger, high-capacity gun with ample ammo to get the job done? Are you looking for a lighter, polymer pistol, or a durable, reliable 1911? Take each element of the guns you are considering, and weight those elements against their application to your desired use.
4. Can You Customize It?
Many first time gun buyers take their first purchase at face value. They want a gun that fits their immediate needs as is, and they don't look long and hard for other options that may be more easily adapted to the ways they may use their gun down the line. Looking for a gun to gain some shooting experience? Why not make it a subcompact with an under-barrel picatinny rail so you can carry it concealed and add a light for home defense? Are you left handed? Does the gun have ambidextrous safeties, or will you have to adapt to a safety on your support side? Can you swap out the sights with a red dot or fiber-optic night sights? These are the considerations you should be making when you're looking to purchase a firearm that you intend to keep for a long time. The more customizable your gun is, the more likely it is that you will continue to use it in the future as your needs change.
5. Do You Trust Yourself to Handle It Safely?
Owning a gun does not mean you know how to properly handle it. Gun ownership and gun safety go hand-in-hand, and it's important that, as a gun owner, you take the safety elements of your role seriously. What does that mean? It means following rigid trigger discipline; it means always keeping your gun aimed in a safe direction; it means always being cognizant of whether or not your gun is loaded and it means always using the proper safety equipment. These are the baseline responsibilities for gun ownership. If any of these concepts are unfamiliar, you should brush up on your basic gun safety skills before you head to your FFL.
6. Are You Prepared to Use It?
Maybe you're planning to purchase a gun for casual plinking or for shooting sports. If so, you likely consider yourself to be well prepared to use your firearm for your intended application. However, many shooters today purchase their firearms for self-defense purposes. If this is you, you need to seriously consider if you are ready to use your gun defensively to protect yourself and others. Being mentally prepared for defensive gun use is something that takes time and introspection.
As the age-old saying goes: with great power comes great responsibility. This is especially true for gun owners. In the right hands, a gun is a tool capable of taking and defending life. In untrained, unprepared or unskilled hands, a gun can be a liability. Do your homework when preparing to buy your first gun so you can get the right firearm for your needs and use it effectively for its intended purpose. You'll be glad you did.