When I first got into firearms I made mistakes… a lot of mistakes. As an example my first time carrying was a CZ 75B in a horizontal shoulder holster…under a T-Shirt; stupid, right?
While this article won’t focus on concealed carry mistakes (we’re working on a guide for that), it will go over the most common mistakes that new gun owners make in general.
Not Following Safety Rules
The absolute biggest failure by new gun owners is the failure to abide by safety rules. They fail to clear a firearm before they clean it which results in a negligent discharge; this does prove to be fatal some of the time.
It proves to be fatal because they also fail to keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction while keeping their finger off the trigger.
So, let’s go over the basic safety rules:
1. Never point the gun at something you don’t want to destroy.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
3. When you pick up a firearm, your finger does not go on the trigger.
4. If you pick it up, clear it.
5. When you go to clean or perform maintenance, keep ammunition away from your work area.
Not Knowing The Law
Most gun owners are not familiar with their own state’s laws, let alone federal laws that regulate firearms.
For Federal Laws you need to have a rough understanding of the National Firearms Act of 1934 as a gun owner so you don’t accidentally break it.
As a gun owner you need to find out if your state has the following laws and thoroughly understand them, or have a lawyer on retainer that can explain them to you (we recommend US Law & Shield):
1. Does your state have Stand Your Ground laws?
2. Does your state have a Duty to Retreat law?
3. Does your state have Castle Doctrine?
4. Does your state have Red Flaw Laws?
You also need to look into the following (preferably before you purchase a firearm):
1. How to transport firearms legally
2. How can you legally carry a firearm
3. Can you leave a loaded firearm in the vehicle with an unlicensed individual?
You cannot legally carry onto Post Office property, you cannot legally carry into a Post Office, and you cannot legally store a firearm in your vehicle that’s on Post Office property. This is a federal law. Your state’s laws don’t matter on Post Office property.
Buying Multiple Guns
I’m guilty of this, I bought more than one firearm in less than 2 months. I failed to purchase everything I needed for the very first one as well.
I didn’t purchase the appropriate amount of magazines (5 total minimum), I didn’t purchase the holsters I needed, and I didn’t purchase spare parts/tools to be able to maintain the firearm.
When you purchase your first firearm don’t buy a 2nd one until you have:
1. A good IWB & OWB holster.
2. Tools required to maintain the firearm.
3. A minimum of 5 magazines.
4. Have shot 1,000rds through your first
If you’re still on your first firearm, it’s strongly suggested that you use it to take your very first firearms class. This class will give you crucial data on whether or not you actually like the firearm, if it’s reliable, and more. All of these are important data points that can help you figure out your next purchase if you determine your first isn’t for you.
Not Getting Training
By training I’m talking about something beyond a basic firearm safety course… to be honest one of those can be found for free on YouTube and be done at home with a BB gun. I’m talking about at a minimum, a basic concealed carry class that goes over the basic fundamentals from how to shoot accurately, to proper firearm manipulations by a competent instructor.
By competent instructor, I don’t mean your friend that rode a desk in the Military or Law Enforcement that you’ve denoted as your “gun person” that “knows everything”.
Justifying Lesser Options
When it comes to potentially life saving equipment there isn’t a “Just As Good” option, there’s only Good Quality vs Bad Quality. Unfortunately, more times than not, I see new gun owners going with the cheaper, lesser option, and then trying to find an echo chamber that supports their confirmation bias.
If your life could depend on it, don’t cheap out on it. Do the appropriate research on the product; not just a Facebook post. Ask questions, find out why it’s being recommended. For an example we’ll use flashlights and not just weapon lights. The flashlight in your pocket should be able to perform some threat deterrence of it’s own. With that in mind, it needs to be quality, it needs to be durable, and it needs to have a good output.
A flashlight’s output is generally determined by 3 factors: Lumen output, Candela output, and Kelvin color of the light.
It’s also greatly affected by: the LED used & the shape of the emitter.
With all of this in mind some good questions while inquiring about a flashlights would be:
1. What’s the rated candela output?
(Most people generally don’t know, this is a sign that they aren’t knowledgeable enough about this type of equipment to give suggestions)
2. How fast does it step down?
(Most lights step down brightness automatically to prevent overheating and catching pockets on fire)
3. What type of abuse has your example seen?
Ex: My flashlights always go through a washer/dryer cycle since I forget them in my pocket after a long day.
No IPX rating = Don’t buy
No candela listed anywhere = Don’t buy (exception being Surefire)
Fast (10 minutes or less) step down = Don’t buy
An Important Differentiation:
Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s bad and just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better. Quality is quality no matter the cost.
Example: A Smith & Wesson M&P before COVID-19 could be found for $450-$500 new while Glocks were going for $550-$600 new. While Glocks do have cheaper magazines and a better aftermarket, both options are excellent firearm options to choose between.
The biggest mistake of all was one previously mentioned; Confirmation Bias. This is a major issue that new gun owners experience; they justify every purchase they made while refuting any information that says otherwise.
This leads to them resenting the Firearm Community as a whole minus a small isolated echo chamber via Facebook Groups.
Be open to criticisms, be open to change, and don’t make costly mistakes that set you back crucial steps to being a well knowledgeable & efficient gun owner.