This year has seen quite a rise in gun ownership interest. It has been a challenge to purchase a gun online or in a firearms store, with many popular brands back-ordered. But a beginner in gun ownership should stop to ask some fundamental questions before making a purchase.

Yes, the Second Amendment provides the legal right to own and carry a firearm with certain guidelines dependent on your state, town or county. Treat carrying a lethal weapon with great respect and responsibility. We sometimes forget that not everyone is comfortable around firearms or those that carry them.

These three questions can help you to decide if you are a good candidate for gun ownership.

Gun Owner Responsibility: Are You Willing to Take a Life?

This seems like an obvious question, but I wonder how many of us have truly considered it? After attending a number of great defensive shooting courses, instructing those new to firearms and teaching many self-defense seminars, I cannot help but wonder how many people actually stop and think hard about the reality of shooting another person. Can you imagine seriously injuring or killing someone? Pointing a gun at a paper target at the range is a very different reality to confronting a person who intends on causing you harm. Movies and television often glamorize the hero taking down the bad guys in the street, bar or office. But these fast-paced, music-driven dramatizations lack the emotional shock and mental anguish that can follow a real shooting encounter.

As a trainer, I have found some adults were very hesitant to pull the trigger. Others could not safely do so because of arthritis or other medical conditions. After a couple of hours and various sizes of firearms, they admitted they were not comfortable shooting a firearm. It may sound strange, but I am pleased when they came to this conclusion. Having a gun and being unsure or unwilling to shoot it could turn ugly very quickly when a predator turns it on them.

Legal costs involved with a shooting incident are another often overlooked consideration. Have you purchased protection to help with those double- or triple-digit legal expenses? Are you aware of the emotional toll and expense of hiring a lawyer to defend yourself? 

Firearms Training: Are You Committed to Regular Practice With Your Gun?

Gun ownership, much like joining a gym for improved health, requires a serious commitment to keep our mental and physical skills sharp. Too often I have witnessed or heard about someone being given a firearm without any training or taking a few hours of instruction from a friend or relative believing he or she is now safer for owning a gun.

I recall shooting at the range and watching a young woman being mentored by a relative. I watched as she fired a large .357 caliber revolver that almost knocked her on her butt. She was a small woman; not more than 115 pounds. I gently suggested she might want to try a pistol of smaller caliber. She thanked me and was much more confident and competent putting rounds on target with the smaller gun.

Once you have made the conscious decision to become a gun owner, find a certified firearms instructor that offers real-world tactical training. Shooting at paper targets from the line lesson after lesson doesn’t offer the opportunity for movement or training for real-world factors.

Gun Safety: Beginner, Who Lives With You?

Who else lives with you and has access to your firearms? Is there someone with mental challenges or young children that may not fully understand the power and consequences of using your gun? It is absolutely essential that everyone in your home know where you safely store your firearms. They should also know how to check if they are loaded, and what to do if one is found unattended or in the hands of an intruder.

Having a gun for home defense is a good idea, but those you live with need to review how this new lethal weapon fits into their lives. This new lifestyle warrants a discussion on a defensive plan in case of an intruder.

Let’s avoid tragic firearms accidents by starting the conversation with these three basic questions.

Beginner Post 1/6

Our beginner series has everything a new gun owner should know. If you’re just getting started in concealed carry or in need of a refresher, check out some of the articles below. After asking the three critical questions from above — can you take a life, will you have regular firearms training and how does the CCW lifestyle affect others — you’re ready to move on. In Article 2, Beth Alcazar discusses what every new gun owner needs: guns, gear and guidance. From there, Bob Campbell will take you through the best firearms for beginners (Article 3) and the basics of ammunition (Article 4). In the fifth article in the series, he’ll teach you how to choose a holster. Then Beth wraps it up with tips to start your gun training in Article 6. And you can check out the Protector Academy for even more training and videos!

Find more articles in our Beginner Series below:

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Gun | 3 Tips for Getting Started in Concealed Carry | Good Guns for Beginners | Ammunition for Beginners | Holsters for Beginners | Practical Gun Training Tips

About Steve Brass

Steve Brass is the author of Self-Defense for Busy People and contributor to U.S. Concealed Carry Association’s Concealed Carry Magazine.