Firearms ownership is one of the keystone freedoms that makes America one of the greatest nations on the planet. Not only is it a hard check on the Federal government from descending into tyranny, but it ensures that each American has the right to defend their life and property from ill-intent.
However, if you’re new to the Second Amendment (we shorthand this as 2A) community, navigating and understanding the landscape of firearm ownership can be a little confusing at first.
In this guide, we are going to give you the 30,000 ft overview of the Second Amendment, why it’s important, and how to successfully navigate your first firearm purchase.
So, if you’re ready to put on your Libertarian merch and get out there to show some support for the Second Amendment, then keep reading!
The Importance of The Second Amendment
Although many gun control advocates will tout the concept that the 2nd Amendment is all about hunting, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Second Amendment, at its core, is a check on the Federal government. It prevents them from passing laws or Executive Orders that infringe on the personal liberties of all Americans.
When the framers of the Constitution drafted the Second Amendment, they were influenced by the context of the time and numerous examples in history. The Founding Fathers sought to ensure that the newly-formed nation would never fall under tyrannical rule again, as they had experienced under the thumb of King George III and the British Empire.
Thus, the concept of maintaining an armed populace capable of defending themselves and their country was essential. However, the Second Amendment protects the populace from more than just tyranny, it also ensures the entirety of the Bill of Rights cannot be violated.
Furthermore, it ensures that Americans would never be defenseless, allowing for the population to defend itself against foreign and domestic threats. From home invasions to being assaulted on the street, personal firearm ownership is the key to protecting your life and the lives of your loved ones in this increasingly chaotic world. Because when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
Know Your State Laws
The Second Amendment of the bill of rights states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Sounds pretty absolute right? Your right to keep and bear firearms shall not be inhibited or restricted…right?
Well, it’s not quite that simple.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that militia membership is NOT a prerequisite to firearms ownership, it also stipulated that the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment are not limitless. (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008)
This means that states can vote to limit your rights to the type of firearms that are permitted, magazine capacity, and if you are allowed to carry a firearm concealed for personal protection.
As you are looking to be a responsible, law-abiding gun owner, it is paramount that you learn and understand your state’s gun laws and follow them. This is your responsibility, and we simply cannot outline every state’s laws in this blog post.
Regardless, take the time you need to understand what is permitted in your state and what isn’t. Because the last thing you want is your rights taken away for something you could have avoided with a little research.
This is doubly true for open or concealed carry as different states have different laws about when and where this is permissible. Furthermore, when you travel across state lines with a firearm, it is your responsibility to understand if you are allowed to carry in that state or not.
For example, a resident of Indiana who has a license to carry a handgun is not permitted to carry in Ohio or Illinois as those states do not honor the Indiana permit. This is just one example, but you need to do your homework before you jump into the realm of concealed carry.
Buying Your First Firearm – What to Expect
Alright, so you’ve made the decision to go ahead and get your first firearm. Good for you! You’ve just made the first step into the 2A community, and we are ready to accept you with open arms.
However, purchasing your first firearm can be a little confusing if you’ve never done it before. So, let’s talk about the basics of what to expect.
When you head into your local gun store, it’s a good idea to have some idea of what you’re looking for ahead of time. Take a little time to do some research about what you’re in the market for in regards to caliber, whether you want a rifle or handgun, and your budget.
The best option is to go to your local range and see if they have some firearms for rent. Actually shooting a firearm you’re interested in can really cement your decision if this gun is right for you or not. Range officers and personnel at the range should be more than happy to help you pick out a few guns to try before you make the decision to purchase one.
But let’s assume for a moment that you’ve done all the research, had some time to test fire several firearms, and you know exactly what you want to buy. Awesome! You’ve just made your first gun store experience that much simpler.
When you walk in, you’ll likely be greeted by one of the staff if they are free, and if they are busy with other customers, I’d recommend taking this time to look over what they have in the display cases. Once a staff member is free, they will likely come to you and ask if you’d like to see something.
Take this opportunity to hold some firearms you’re interested in and see how they feel in your hands. The staff will perform a safety check on the firearm to make sure it is unloaded before they hand it to you.
Always remember the cardinal rules of firearms safety and never point a firearm (unloaded or otherwise) at a person and keep your finger off the trigger at all times. This will score points with the staff, and they’ll understand you know what you’re doing.
If you want to test the trigger pull, I’d recommend asking the staff if it is ok to do so beforehand. Most of the time they will say yes and at that point, while pointing the firearm in a safe direction (like the ground), it is acceptable to release the slide or bolt and pull the trigger. If they say no, then that is ok too, as some firearms can be damaged by excessive dryfiring (rimfire guns in particular).
If you’ve made up your mind and this is the gun you want to buy, let them know that you’re ready to make a purchase and the staff will know what to do next.
Depending on what state you live in will determine the next steps in your purchase. Some states like Illinois require that you purchase a license before you make your first firearm purchase. While other states only require that you bring a valid government issued ID. If you’re confused, the staff will be more than happy to walk you through it.
Next, you’ll fill out an ATF Form 4473. In the 2A community we know this as a NICS background check. NICS is short for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This is to ensure that a dealer does not sell a firearm to someone who is not permitted to own one (primarily someone who has committed a felony).
These forms can be checked over the phone or online depending on your dealer’s preference and you should have an answer in under a minute. If everything is ok, then you’ll be able to make your purchase.
When you get to take your new boomstick home is another matter, as some states require waiting periods after a purchase is complete to do further background checks while some states allow you to take it home immediately. Regardless of whether you have a waiting period or not, once you’ve done everything required by your state’s law, you can take your brand-new firearm out to the range and get practicing!
Taking the plunge into firearms ownership can be a daunting task if you’re unfamiliar with your state’s law. However, once you learn how to jump through all the hoops it becomes an extremely rewarding and patriotic experience.
Firearms ownership and the Second Amendment is one of the key freedoms that the Founding Fathers fought for, so that future generations could live free of tyranny and oppression. And by flexing your rights, you honor their courage and sacrifice by continuing our rich American heritage of responsible firearms ownership.