Constitutional Contract Law

Private ownership of a firearm has several benefits and aids in keeping society safe. Owning firearms give you the ability to protect yourself, bring home healthy, fresh meat that is free of additives, and the ability to enjoy a wide range of family-friendly sports. But as the old adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

Why should I buy a firearm?

The reasons for gun ownership are as varied as the types of weapons in the world, and they have not changed much since the early days of civilian firearms. For hunting, there are almost endless varieties of shotguns, rifles, and pistols in calibers that are capable of taking down small game while leaving most of the meat untouched and large, powerful cartridges that can kill massive dangerous game like the Cape Buffalo. Hunting is now largely a recreational pastime, but during much of history firearms were used to hunt deer, hogs, squirrels, rabbits, and almost any other edible animal in order to feed families across rural areas.

Shooting sports are a very fun way to use firearms. Some firearm sports, such as trap, skeet, and sporting clays, are training tools used for getting ready for hunting season. Others, such as defensive pistol and “three gun” competitions are based on tactical defensive firearms use. Cowboy Action Shooting is an exciting competition where men and women compete in clothing that would be worn in the 19th Century American West, under an Old West alias, and using period-accurate firearms. Others are tests of accuracy, using anything from .22 LR caliber pistols to .50 BMG sniper rifles. All sanctioned events have strict safety rules that are enforced at all events.

Perhaps the most important use of a firearm is personal defense. Citizens use firearms each year to stop burglary attempts, robberies, rapes, and other crimes. An elderly man or a petite businesswoman are on even footing with a hardened criminal when they own a gun and understand how to operate it effectively. Firearms are one of the greatest deterrents against crime. Even if you never fire your weapon at a criminal or even pull it out, the very notion that you might have a gun to protect yourself can keep a criminal thinking twice. Many states have laws that protect citizens against prosecution for using a gun to defend their home, and almost every state has a law allowing handguns to be carried in public, with various licensing and restrictions. Owning, training with, and keeping a firearm ready can lessen your chances of being a victim of violent crime, so use this ability. Of course, it is also important to remember why the Second Amendment to the US Constitution was added: to keep citizens safe from tyrannical governments.

Think about why you are buying a gun, not just the fact that you want a gun. Owning the wrong weapon for your needs will probably end up in it being a “safe queen” that you never use or one that ends up being sold.

How do I buy one?

Buying a gun is a simple task, and there are plenty of resources to help you get one right for your needs. It is legal to own a weapon unless you have been convicted of a felony, committed to a mental hospital by a court, or convicted of domestic violence. If you fall under these categories then do not even try buying one, a gun store will tell you no after your background check is processed.

Enter a gun store with some idea of what you are looking for. If you are buying your first gun, then you should have the reason for owning one in mind and not much else. There are endless opinions (some very biased and inaccurate) about the benefits of various guns over another floating around on the internet, so pay them no mind. Let your local gun store’s salespeople guide you in selecting what will be best for you. Expect to spend at minimum $300 for a new shotgun and over twice that for a good quality pistol, those in smaller calibers excluded.

How should I store it?

Storing a gun should always involve a safe. A strong, sturdy safe will keep your weapons safe from theft and fire in all but the most extreme circumstances. A trigger or cable lock is an option, but these can easily be broken or cut through and does not stop someone from stealing your gun. You should ensure that you keep all of your weapons’ serial numbers written and stored in a safe place to be able to report their loss if somehow they are stolen.

Your ammunition should be stored separately from your firearms. Keeping them in military surplus ammo cans will do the trick. These are hard for small children to open.

If you own a weapon to protect your home, then keeping a loaded firearm  outside of the safe for most of the time is an obvious necessity. What’s the point of owning a defense weapon if you are not going to get to it in time? Of course, this does require extra caution. Ensure that you keep it loaded and outside the safe when you can control it. If you are only keeping it to protect the home then you should unload and lock it each morning and get it out each evening. Keeping it in your bedroom and inaccessible by your children (especially in they are younger or untrained in firearms safety) is essential.

Where can I shoot it?

Shoot only in approved areas. These include indoor and outdoor rifle ranges, hunting leases, public hunting land, and private land that you, your companions, or someone who has given you permission to shoot on. Always make sure to be safe while shooting,

How can I be safe with a gun, anyway?

Safety is the primary concern when handling a firearm. Carelessness will kill you or someone else when it comes to guns. There are a few rules that you should always keep in mind anytime you touch a weapon.

First, always assume that every weapon you see is loaded. Check the weapon each time you handle it to ensure there is no ammunition present in it. When cleaning, transporting or using your weapon always assume that the weapon is ready to fire and kill.

Never point a weapon in an unsafe direction. Watch the direction of where your barrel is pointing, and never accidentally move it in the direction of another person. This is a big “no no”, and goes back to rule one. This also means never firing into an area that you cannot assuredly know everything that is around and beyond your target. Shooting at something and the bullet traveling past the target can lead to it finding a building, vehicle, or person.

Never fire at a hard surface like concrete or water. These surfaces can result in your bullet ricocheting off the surface, striking you or someone around you.

Always keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire. This will keep your finger from slipping and pulling the trigger. Tripping over something with your finger in the trigger guard can result in tragedy.

Take a basic firearms course from a local shooting range, or just ask for help from someone working at the range. It is in their best interest to show you how your gun works and how to shoot it safely.

Owning a firearm (or several) is a great idea for several reasons. The enjoyment factor as well as the increased level of protection that they offer are highly rewarding. It is no wonder that gun sales are booming.