Firearm Ownership: What to Expect

So you've decided you want to buy a gun. Navigating the waters of gun ownership can be a hassle even more so if you are going in blind, but this short article will help guide you along the way.

by Rodien; Co-Author UglyThumb | January 9, 2019 9:16 PM

Whether it be self-defense, community defense, or just a growing hobby interest, you have decided that you want to own a firearm. However, like many on the left, you may be largely unfamiliar with firearms and feel hesitant about acting on your interest. Gun ownership can be a fairly foreign concept to many of those in leftist circles as the gun culture in America has been long dominated by reactionary right-wing ideology. Becoming a gun owner can be a rather intimidating process, even more so for those who lack the resources or first-hand experience of being raised in an established tradition of firearms ownership. We hope to put not only the firearm purchasing process in perspective but also your experience in the near future as a gun owner.

Today's firearms market can often times feel overwhelming as it is common for retailers to be saturated with seemingly similar products and customers to be vocal about their strong feelings over one or another. Keep in mind that just because someone has an opinion on one product or another does not mean it will apply to you or even prove true as a whole. It is also a good idea to do some research on manufacturers, websites, retail stores, and what the general consensus is in the gun community. Of course, the research does not have to be all-encompassing, just enough to get a good understanding of the gun that will best suit your needs and ability. The best way to figure out which firearm is best for you is to simply go to a range and try out as many as you can. Most ranges will have a wide selection of firearms available to rent, and odds are your local chapter comrades will also be more than happy to let you try out what they have, although it may be wise to stick with the lower calibers until you can get used to recoil.

Before you go to purchase a firearm, make sure that you have a valid form of ID and the legal ability to buy a gun. The two main reasons for a person to be denied a gun purchase are if one has been committed to a mental institution, adjudicated as a mental defective, or convicted of a felony. If you have a criminal record and are even slightly unsure about whether or not you will be allowed to purchase a firearm, it is best to make sure before following through with the purchase. Police websites will often give citizens the ability to perform a background check on themselves. If you have ever been convicted of a felony, you will certainly be turned away from any firearm sale. Lying about your criminal history is a serious offense and is considered perjury which could carry jail time as well as a fine. If you are renting or live in an apartment complex, be sure to check your lease as possession of a firearm may be breaking your contract.

When it comes time for you to make your purchase, there are a few factors that you should consider. If you are totally new to owning a gun, it is recommended you start with a small caliber such as the .22 LR or .17 HMR. .22LR firearms are especially versatile as they can come in the form of handguns (Walther P22), bolt-action rifles (Savage Mark II), and semi-automatic rifles (Ruger 10/22 or M&P 15-22). The ammo and the firearms themselves tend to be the cheapest options available, they also tend to be good learning tools for other aspects of firearms ownership such as maintenance and safety. However, the main drawback is that they are not practical for self-defense. If you have a more immediate need of a gun for the purpose of self-defense, a handgun chambered in 9mm or .380 can also be friendly to newer shooters. Despite that, do expect a slightly higher price for ammunition and a fair bit more recoil. It is advised to avoid higher caliber guns (.44 Magnum, .357, .50AE, etc.) as they can be especially dangerous for inexperienced shooters to handle. If you are unsure about your ability to handle larger calibers, we again urge you to first try out the firearm at a range under the supervision of an instructor or a more experienced shooter to ensure that you can reliably handle the firearm. It is also highly advised to check your local gun laws. Some states require seeking gun owners to meet certain requirements, such as a Firearm Safety Certificate, before buying, loaning or the transfer of a firearm.

For more information on the actual gun purchasing process, the functionality of firearms, basic firearm safety, and much more take a look at SRA educational resources at

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for, you will have to decide on a big-box retail store or an online retailer. Some if not most big-box retail stores such as Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, and Sports Acadamy can be a bit more pricey, however, they are almost always professional in their business practice. Local gun stores, as well as pawn shops, can be pretty reactionary depending on where you live, not to mention their prices may be unreasonable. If there is a firearm at a local store that has caught your eye, it is recommended you look up the price, how to field strip it, check it for issues, as well as researching the make and model for possible manufacturing defects. Buying online can be fast and easy, although it is essential that you make sure the retailer is reliable and secure.

For websites that are suspicious or unreliable, recommended that you use to ensure your information is safe.

The process of buying a firearm is dependent on your state as well as if you are buying online or from a physical location. Both require a background check, however online has quite a few more fees and can have a more lengthy process. Depending on state regulation, as well as if you possess a C&R License (Curios & Relic, which can be easy to obtain depending on your state.) some firearms may be able to ship right to your front door, however, most guns will have to be transferred to an FFL dealer (Federal Firearms License). Most websites have licensed FFL dealers on their site so that you only have to select one and wait for delivery. Of course, it would be a good idea to research the local FFL dealers and see what reviews you can find.

That only leaves a few more things to buy, that being ammunition, cleaning supplies, a lock, and a case. Ammo is an easy thing to by, you can buy it online in bulk for a reasonable price and have it shipped right to your door, or you can also head down to Walmart and pick up a box of standard ammo. For those that are recoil sensitive, a lower grain bullet may be a good idea. Cleaning supplies are highly recommended, however, if cleaning a run right away is intimidating to you, you can always find a place that will clean your firearm for a fee. Gun locks and cases tend to be cheap and easy to come by, you can buy a cable lock for under 10$ at most places that sell ammunition and other accessories. Gun cases tend to be critical as some gun ranges, as well as retailers, will not allow you to bring in a firearm unless it is in a case.

For those that have a few questions regarding ammunition, please refer to this guide

With the gun supplies that you have bought, you are now ready to attend your very first range day. A range day is when your local chapter gets together at an agreed upon gun range or location so that you and others may learn to shoot. And of course, do not forget to follow the four rules of firearm safety. If anyone that is uncertain of what the four rules may be, please consider the following.

1. Treat the gun as if it is always loaded.

Always perform a safety check on your firearm, make sure that it is not loaded. Most accidents happen when the owner assumes the gun is unloaded.

2. Never point the gun at something you are not prepared to destroy.

Just because you've performed a safety check and have made sure the gun is unloaded, does not give you the right to be careless. Even if the gun is unloaded, it still ought to be treated as if it is.

3. Always be sure of your target and what is behind it.

As we all know, bullets go through and usually beyond what you are aiming for, whether you miss a shot, penetrate the target or a nearby object behind or near said target. That is why it is extremely important to know what lies beyond your muzzle.

4. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

The gun will not fire unless your finger is on the trigger, that is why it is vital to keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as an accidental discharge, there is only neglect. If you are having trouble, try placing your trigger finger on the trigger guard or along the frame when aiming.

With the four basic rules of firearm ownership covered, you are now ready to learn about range rules. Range rules are subject to the range you attend. Depending on the range, you may only be able to shoot one shot per second, listen to a lecture on safety, or read a rules sign. Most shooting ranges have a range officer that patrol the shooting galleries. If you are not following basic firearm safety or the rules of the range, you will be ousted. Do not forget to keep your muzzle pointed down range at all times.

If you underperform, try not to get too discouraged. You can't pick up a firearm and expect to have the aim of a trained fighter. Good aim takes time as well as practice. Depending on the gun, you may have to get used to some specifics such as a heavy trigger, blowback, recoil, and weight. The first time I went to the range and shot my 1940's 22LR I could not even keep my aim steady. I wasn't use to the weight of the gun, much less holding it up for such an extended time. I felt dejected and was starting to reconsider my new hobby. I took some time to practice my aim, my stance and had a few comrades give me advice. Finally, I was able to aim at a short distance and eventually started shooting from further and further away. For those that have bought a pistol and are having trouble with it, try not to fret. My aim was terrible when I first shot one, though later I learned that most people have a hard time when it comes to aiming a handgun, most cannot shoot accurately beyond 15 to 20 yards. If you do feel disheartened after your first shooting experience, keep trying, attend the next range day, and if need be, do not be afraid to ask your comrades for advice or support. It is also important to remember that you don't need to be perfect, you don't need to become a gun enthusiast either, you can enjoy the sport or if you are like me, learn to defend yourself should such a time ever come.

Provided that you attended your first range day and have cleaning materials as well as the necessary tools on hand, it is time to clean and maintain your firearm. It is usually a good idea to do so after every shooting session until you become familiar with the routine. You can easily find a gun cleaning tutorial on youtube for whatever kind of firearm you have decided to purchase.

All things considered, it is imperative that you have fun and practice gun safety. Should you ever have any questions, you can always ask your fellow chapter comrades.