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Doing your homework is vital if you’re to become a responsible owner of firearms. If you searched, “What do I need to own a gun?” you’re already one step in the right direction. But there’s a lot to responsible ownership and handling — gun safety, proper storage, and both state and federal laws, to name a few. If you’re new to firearms, this may seem like a lot of information to take in at once. Where do you even start? Fortunately, this useful guide explains some key essentials to help you educate yourself.

The Four Rules of Firearms Safety

Safety is crucial in handling firearms. Observing safe practices ensures that you can enjoy shooting as a hobby for years to come. Not only that, but you’re also thoughtfully and deliberately ready to protect yourself and others should the need arise. As a gun owner, you must understand and follow the four universal laws of gun safety.

All Guns Are Loaded

Treat your gun as if it’s loaded at all times. No matter where or when you’re carrying your firearm, you should behave as if it contains live ammunition.

Don’t Point Your Gun at Non-Targets

Never point your gun at anything that you are not willing to destroy. The muzzle should be pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger

Do not place your finger on your firearm’s trigger until your sights are on target. Until you have deliberately decided to shoot, your trigger finger should rest alongside the frame of the gun and outside of the trigger guard.

Know Your Target and What’s Beyond It

First and foremost, you should be absolutely certain of your target. But it’s also critical to know what lies just beyond the target. Avoid shooting at hard flat surfaces or water. Also, do not fire if there are people behind the target or if you cannot see past the target.

Other Gun Safety Practices

Now that you’ve read about the four cardinal rules of gun safety, there are a few other things you should know. Getting to know your firearm is a vital first step. This knowledge includes how it works plus its essential parts. You should also know how to open and close the action and how to remove ammunition. You can take classes or private instruction to learn these basics.

Proper cleaning and storage are also essential to gun ownership. Besides keeping them in good condition and preserving their value, regular cleaning also ensures that they function correctly. Best practices include cleaning your gun every time you use it, plus whenever you remove it from long-term storage. Before you clean, make sure the firearm is unloaded and the action is open. Also, your firearms should never be in easy reach. A dedicated storage option such as a locking steel cabinet or gun safe keeps unauthorized persons from accessing these weapons.

Understanding Gun Laws

State and federal laws governing gun ownership can be complex. Still, it’s your responsibility to understand and follow these statutes. They specify key details such as who may legally buy firearms plus waiting periods, where you can carry firearms and more.

Purchasing a Firearm

If you haven’t yet purchased your first gun, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, seek out licensed firearms dealers. They have been issued a Federal Firearms License by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to legally engage in buying, selling, or making firearms.

Depending on the state, the minimum age to buy a gun is either 18 or 21. Some states specify different minimum ages for different types of firearms. Individual jurisdictions have their own rules for purchase and ownership. Federal law on becoming a gun owner also requires that you undergo background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry

Those new to gun ownership may find terms like “open carry” and “concealed carry” a little confusing. But it may be helpful to remember a few things. Basically, open carry means that you’re carrying a firearm in open view. Waistband holsters are usually preferred, but you may also see people open carry in chest rigs or leg holsters. Concealed carry means that your gun is not in plain sight.

Concealed carry laws vary by state. Some allow permitless concealed carry, while others grant concealed carry weapons licenses according to certain criteria. In some states or counties, it’s up to the local authorities whether or not to grant CCW permits. Some governments do not issue CCW permits at all. There are also reciprocity agreements between states. That means CCW permits issued in some states are honored by others, allowing permit holders to conceal carry in those locations as well. You should check your jurisdiction’s laws for further information.

Practice and Proficiency

Practice makes perfect, right? Well, that adage especially rings true when it comes to firearms proficiency. Most shooting ranges offer group classes at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. These include gun safety basics plus specific courses on pistols, rifles, and other types of firearms. There are also courses that cover important fundamentals such as reloading, muzzleloading, and rifle carry positions. You can also find private one-on-one instruction at some ranges.

Practicing at the range helps reinforce what you learn in class. Scheduling regular practice sessions ensure that you don’t get rusty and improve your skills. There’s also “dry fire” practice in which you use your gun without live ammunition. This training lets you perfect your technique without firing any shots.

Meeting Other Hobbyists

Recreational shooting can help you skill up in precision, speed, and accuracy. Shooting as a hobby can be done individually, but joining a gun club has some great benefits. You meet like-minded gun owners who share your enthusiasm. If you’re a new owner, a club affords the opportunity to learn from experienced shooters.

Like with any other passion, finding community is valuable. With so many kinds of weapons and shooting styles, you’re sure to find a club that meets your needs. You can also find your niche where you can use your developing skills — hunting and competitive sports disciplines such as skeet, field, and bullseye shooting.

Innovation, Precision, and Perfection

Whether you’re a brand-new owner or you’re experienced with firearms, you assume a big responsibility. Practicing gun safety is important, as well as learning how to properly handle your firearms. Since laws covering gun ownership and carrying weapons vary from state to state, it’s critical to know these laws and stay up-to-date on any changes.

Thanks for reading this guide on important things that gun owners need to know. Matrix Arms is a CNC manufacturer of firearms with a keen focus on innovation, precision, and perfection. With engineering expertise, automation, and lean manufacturing practices, we craft products that meet or exceed customer expectations. Experience world-class service from our professionals—contact us through our online form or call (603) 504-3790.

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