Gun ownership is about much more than simply buying and keeping a firearm. With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes! Regardless of your politics, we all have to agree that firearms are incredibly dangerous if mishandled or misused. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself and act responsibly.
We’ve compiled this overview on responsible gun ownership to help you out. This is by no means a definitive list of everything you should do. We’ve covered all the basics, but you can take any additional precautions or preventive measures that seem appropriate to your situation.
Advocate for commonsense gun laws
As any American knows, gun ownership is a hotbed of political conflict. There are a lot of extreme viewpoints, and the result has been a stalemate for years in Congress. However, as violent crime and mass shootings increase, it’s become more important than ever for us to create commonsense gun laws.
Access is absolutely imperative, and many NRA members and gun-owning voters are adamant that no laws should impinge upon Second Amendment rights. Fair enough! But let’s remember that the Second Amendment is hotly contested, and is not the same as a set of laws. It’s a vague, general assurance that can be interpreted however courts choose. Isn’t it better to put a common code of conduct into place, which would explicitly outline gun rights for citizens and at the same time add some basic protections for the general public?
We think there’s a lot of room for agreement between the hunting community and the general public, which is overwhelmingly in favor of restrictions. Background checks and restrictions on unsafe individuals owning weapons is something most hunters actually support. Most hunters also believe that semiautomatic weapons are not something the civilian needs to own. Acceding to these things would make us all safer. After all, as much as we value our gun rights as responsible owners, we ought to value our lives enough to stop unsafe individuals from putting us in danger in the woods or on the streets.
Regardless of where you stand, let your lawmakers know how you feel. The average gun owner should have as much influence as the NRA, which has begun to go its own way on many issues. Get involved and advocate!
Know the laws in your state and municipality
Just as a driver needs to know the local speed limits and road rules, a gun owner must be well-versed in local restrictions and regulations. You’ll need to apply for any licenses and permits that apply in your specific area.
Most gun laws in America are actually legislated and enacted at the state level, rather than by the federal government. You can find a breakdown of state gun laws here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jan/15/gun-laws-united-states
Additional rules and restrictions also apply, and are enforced on as small as a town-wide level. You’ll find that most rules in rural areas are to do with hunting, rather than with firearms specifically. So, get to know your area, and ask other gun owners whether they’ve had to jump through any special hoops. Request copies of relevant statutes and make sure any applicable licenses or permits are up to date. Bring them whenever you go somewhere with a firearm! Think of it like your driver’s license in the car.
Take training courses and practice
In order to keep yourself and others safe, it’s important that you go through thorough training when you become a gun owner. Licensure tests aren’t enough! Go to at least a few classes, and start out hunting with someone more experienced who can teach you more advanced things.
Look for certified instructors near you. There are dozens of good organizations, but the NRA is by far the most well-known and widespread. See what courses and licensure are offered by your local chapter.
Secure storage is an absolute imperative
Aside from knowing how to handle guns yourself, your biggest priority as a gun owner needs to be stopping other people from handling your firearms. It’s most often talked about in the context of keeping guns away from kids, but you should be thinking about other circumstances as well. To keep accidents from happening, and to prevent theft, you need a secure place to keep all your guns.
At home, you should be locking weapons up somewhere safe. You’ll need a solution that’s child-proof and theft-proof. The best way to go is to buy a safe. That’s also the only practical option if you own several rifles. Pistols can be stored in smaller lock-boxes. Use something with a sturdy steel cabinet, a heavy-duty lock, and a mechanism that can’t be jimmied or picked.
Whether you use a safe or a lock-box for firearms, make sure that you secure the compartment to a wall or to the floor. It’s no good having all your guns locked up if a thief can simply carry the whole lot off.
Most folks think of security at home first and foremost, but the fact of the matter is that most gun thefts take place in vehicles. Lock-boxes and vaults are your best friends for your truck or SUV. Make sure it’s secured to the vehicle as well as having its own lock. Know the applicable state rules for transport and carry, since they do vary widely.
Use a lockable hard case for flights rather than a lightweight soft case.
Cleaning and care
Improperly cleaned or maintained firearms are extremely dangerous. Prevent accidents by learning how to properly clean and maintain your weapons! Take your rifles to an instruction program for hands-on tutorials, or search the wealth of information available online. Always choose certified instructors and reputable sources of information, though.
Leave no trace
Ammo is dangerous in a variety of ways, beyond its primary purpose. Stray cartridges are particularly dangerous when live. You need to be positive that you haven’t dropped any as you leave the woods. Likewise, always collect spent cartridges. Of course, you won’t be able to retrieve bullets which miss their target and end up in trees. However, any plastic casings or shells that you find should come back with you. The lead content in them will poison wildlife. The plastic is also a choking hazard to creatures.
Use a good scope
No, we’re not just plugging products. We genuinely believe that using proper optics is one of the best ways to prevent stray bullets. By using a quality scope that suits your rifle, you’ll keep everyone safer and bag more game. Head over to our homepage to see the best rifle scopes in all categories!