Rising numbers of COVID cases and unrest around the U.S. brought with it a record number of gun sales. And while the related ammo shortage may have firearms enthusiasts scrambling, new gun owners can only mean good things.

However, these nearly 5 million new gun owners will need training to avoid danger and save lives. The U.S. Concealed Carry Association has pledged to train 1.3 million firearms owners by 2025. To kick things off, USCCA has launched #RealityCheck, a national public awareness campaign promoting responsible gun ownership.

#RealityCheck is a safety movement that features facts and stats as well as real stories from people who choose to carry every day.

The Freedom for Economic Education reports that nearly 7,000 crimes a day and 400,000 life-threatening crimes a year never happen because of trained gun owners.

Firearms Training Saves Lives

USCCA officially launched #RealityCheck in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in early August with a non-partisan panel discussion and pop-up training by USCCA Certified Instructors. Passersby were able to stop and chat with firearms trainers on a variety of topics, including gun safety and storage and how to avoid the fight.

Being prepared for worst-case scenarios is step one in avoiding them. Ashley Tannert said this pop-up event is important for bringing awareness to the concept of safety.

“I found it amazing how few people had a self-defense plan in place, let alone thought about the topic,” Tannert commented. “I learned about how to avoid danger, when to engage the threat and how to store a firearm based on your living situation. It was my first time seeing a biometric safe — cool stuff!”

Tim Damico, who also attended the event, said this is exactly what the 2A community needs to bridge the divide. “Reaching out to those who may have no interest in firearms or those who think they can’t be in the firearm community is important.”

Spreading Awareness One Person at a Time

On August 6, USCCA panel discussion attendees heard candid, firsthand stories about what prompted panelists to begin their self-defense journeys. Panelists included Kendra Geronimo, a sex trafficking survivor who now trains others about situational awareness, and Chris Cheng, winner of History Channel’s Top Shot and an LGBTQ+ advocate. Conversations centered around each panelist’s “reality.”

Beth Alcazar was a part of the diverse five-person panel that discussed a range of firearms safety and community topics.

“There’s something both extraordinarily humbling and empowering when you reach out to everyday people about the potentially life-saving information of gun training and safety,” she said. “I was so honored to be part of USCCA’s Reality Check event and work with such amazing 2A advocates to share our stories and passions with all who would listen, from the stage of our panel discussion to the streets of downtown Milwaukee. Sometimes we truly make a difference, one person at a time.”

#RealityCheck will next be at USCCA’s own Concealed Carry & Home Defense Expo October 1-3 in Fort Worth, Texas.