“What’s the best advice for a new gun owner?” is a question I sometimes get at dinner parties, or from new clients. In those situations, I generally get a little background info from the person that guides my answer. For purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that the new firearm owner has no military, or other weapons handling experience.
If that’s the case, then my advice is that every firearm owner absolutely requires basic gun skills training by a certified instructor in the gun owner’s home state, or state where he/she will be carrying. I emphasize “home state” training because most reputable firearms instructors will include training on local gun law.
We’ve all seen the memes and posts by the anti-2A crowd stating that only police or military service members should be allowed to carry guns. That’s not an uncommon opinion, especially here in the People’s Republic of Western Washington. In all of my gun trials, jurors have cared deeply about whether a shooter was properly trained, and whether he acted in conformity with that training when he drew or shot.
I recently tried a brandishing case in which my client, a former Navy Master at Arms, was accused of flashing his SIG P320 to stop an attacker. Fortunately, most of what my guy was accused of doing was tactically and legally sound when he drew his pistol to stop a younger and more aggressive man from assaulting him.
The jury believed that my client should have retreated (it was a Seattle case), but they still acquitted him of all criminal charges. They felt that he used the least amount of force necessary to prevent the altercation from escalating.
They liked that he first issued a warning, was mindful of what was downrange, and spoke authoritatively about his training and desire to not hurt anyone. His training was essential to getting the acquittal.
I, like many shooters, am a firm believer in the old adage “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.” I’m also a believer in hedging your bets, so if you’re going to own a firearm, then get training and shoot regularly.
Follow up on that training with more training, and more shooting. If I could give you two pieces of advice, it would be to also develop a relationship with an experienced gun attorney before you need one.
This article originally appeared at armedcitizensnetwork.org and is reprinted here with permission.