Attorney Question of the Month
Last month, we took a break from our usual discussion topics and entertained a discussion of a more general question, yet one on which every experienced armed citizen has an opinion. Our affiliated attorneys had some fun with it and many, many responses came in.
Here we wrap up the second half of our affiliate attorneys’ answers to the following question:
The current political unrest regarding gun control is causing many people to purchase their first handgun. If you were to give one piece of advice to the brand new gun owner, what would that piece of advice be?
Alex Ooley and Mike Ooley
Boehl Stopher & Graves
400 Pearl St., Ste. 204, New Albany, IN 47150
The one piece of advice we would give to a brand new gun owner would be to make training a priority. Remember what the late Colonel Jeff Cooper said, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”
What should that training look like? First, take a basic course that will emphasize safety. Even if you are one of those individuals that can say, “I have been around guns all my life,” you will nonetheless benefit. One cannot know too much or have too many reminders about basic gun handling, safe gun storage, and the fundamental safety rules.
After the basic course is under your belt, continue your training as much as your budget and time will reasonably allow. Without question, it would be very beneficial to take classes with The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Masaad Ayoob, Gunsite, Tom Givens, John Farnam, Tiger McKee and many other nationally recognized trainers.
However, some of us have budgets that will limit some or all of our training to quality local trainers. As a matter of fact, our budget may limit us to books and/or videos. Whatever your situation allows, do your due diligence by asking where your trainers or educators have trained and continue to train. Set a goal to be educated and trained in broad areas that include safety, marksmanship, gun handling, mindset, as well as avoidance and less lethal techniques.
Also, training and education regarding self-defense law and gun law for the concealed carry holder is highly recommended. You must understand the law when it comes to firearms and self defense. If you think you do not have the time and/or money to spend on training, ask yourself if you are willing to bet the life of a family member on your level of skill and knowledge–and then reconsider your budget and time constraints. Lastly, seriously consider joining ACLDN. The educational DVDs alone that you will receive as a new member have value that exceeds the cost of membership for many years.
Kevin Jamison Law
2614 NE. 56th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64119
Get professional advice. NOT the internet. Not the blowhard at the gun shop. Not the guy who used to be military/police/a spy.
A professional who knows his stuff and equally important knows how to teach. Teaching is hard and I have seen it done badly and even stupidly far too often. Where to find such a person? Ah! That is a different question.
Allison & Allison, LLC.
7836 Park Ave., Houma, LA 70360
I would have a lot of pieces of advice, but here is a good one learned from personal experience: “Try before you buy.” Go out to a gun range and try different kinds of guns. Try a model of the gun you are looking at buying. Learn a bit about how it feels to hold, shoot, reload, and clean.
My wife's first gun was a little five-shot .38 Special. She liked it at the store because it was small and “cute.” Once she fired it, though, she hated it. (A quick lesson in physics: less mass in the gun equals more kick to your hand.) I traded it with her since it was a decent concealed carry gun, and she wasn't going to carry concealed anyway. A larger frame police model .38 has become her personal favorite.
While at the range, get what advice you can from experienced shooters. There is a LOT to learn and they are almost universally happy to share their knowledge.
James E. Oliver
Durflinger Oliver & Associates
711 St. Helens Ave., Ste. 209, Tacoma, WA 98402
“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.
Douglas C. Hobbs
Wallace Saunders | Attorneys at Law
200 West Douglas, Ste. 400, Wichita, KS 67202
The number one piece of advice I would give to a new gun owner would be to take classes on gun usage and safety from a certified firearms instructor. There is so much to learn after that but you have got to start with the basics.
3929 Bridgeport Way W #304, University Place, WA 98466
I think there is one piece of advice with two parts:
- Get good and substantial instruction in the effective and safe use and storage of your handgun; and
- Familiarize (preferably with qualified instruction) yourself with the legal concepts and rules around the justifiable use of lethal force.
Thomas C. Watts III
Orange County Office
8175 Kaiser Blvd,, Ste. 100, Anaheim Hills, CA 92808
In obtaining a weapon for protection, the best advice is a matter of common sense rather than legal advice. The exercise of a right implies an understanding of the obligations and responsibilities that go along.
Not long ago, I was in line at a gun store when a fellow confidently plopped a box of ammo on the counter by the cash register. The clerk told him to double check the caliber size on the box, since the ammunition could not be returned. To the silent astonishment of everybody within earshot, the fellow asked what a caliber was.
At the same time, you need to learn about your legal rights and duties as a lawful gunowner, you need to take the training, retraining and refresher training to keep the talents sharp and honed.
Shawn A. Kollie
Kollie Law Group, PC
40 NW Greenwood Ave. Ste. 100, Bend, OR 97701
The best advice I would give would be to practice, practice, practice. The most important tool for your survival is your knowledge and training and you can never have too much of either.
Weisman Law Firm LLC
25 Central Ave., Waterbury, CT 06702-1202
Take Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40 class and Shivworks ECQC. That may seem like a lot of money to spend; however, I bill at $350 per hour. If you have a case involving the use of your firearm, or even exposing it to someone intentionally, it’s a ten-hour minimum. Compared to that, training (which will keep you from paying me and will be a lot more fun) is cheap.
1821 Wyandotte St., Ste. 200, Kansas City, MO 64108
My advice to a new gun owner would be as follows:
- Please do your best to get a handgun that fits well in your hand and allows you to shoot it comfortably and accurately.
- Please make sure that it is well-suited to your intended purpose such as target shooting, competition, hunting, self defense, home defense or a combination of the above.
- Please make sure your handgun is safe for its intended purpose and that there are no issues regarding over-penetration in case the handgun is to be used for home defense in an apartment dwelling.
- Please get the very best training you can immediately to make sure that you can safely handle, load, fire and unload your handgun safely, proficiently and without hesitation.
- Get a holster that covers the trigger guard.
- Get a safe to secure the handgun when not in use, where it is safely kept away from children and unauthorized users.
- Acquaint yourselves with the rules of firearm safety and follow them at all times.
As you can see, there is not just one piece of advice to give to a brand new handgun owner.
Timothy A. Forshey
Timothy A. Forshey, P.C.
1650 North First Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003
I believe this is a critical question that all too few new gun owners fail to recognize. By far the most important factor, even before discussing such issues as fit, caliber, recoil management and the like, is the issue of training. I see many people in my CCW classes who have shot very little (if at all) prior to the class and who have obtained zero training on even the basics. I cannot imagine purchasing a piano without first determining my desire and ability to play a piano through at least some lessons. And, lest we forget, pianos rarely cause fatalities (Looney Tunes cartoons excluded).
Find a good, qualified trainer to teach good lessons from the get-go. They will also be able to assist with the aforementioned concerns once the decision to purchase is properly made. Don’t forget—practice does not make perfect—perfect practice does.
A big “Thank You!” goes out to our affiliated attorneys for their contributions to this interesting discussion. Please return next month when we have a new question for our affiliated attorneys.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.