Private gun purchases, first-time owners in particular, have surged in the aftermath of recent tragic, demented Texas and Ohio mass shootings. FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) records show nearly 16 million new applications for gun purchases and concealed permits so far this year.
The final 2019 number is projected surpass previous years since 2016 when election pollsters predicted a Hillary Clinton anti-gun presidency.
For comparison, the overall NICS number for August was 2,341,363 — 310,702 higher than July, and 268,067 higher than August 2018.
We should expect the current and new gun owner purchasing and carry-permitting rush to gain even more momentum in response to concerns over "slippery slope" regulatory legislation championed by Democrat 2020 presidential and congressional campaign platforms.
U.S. House Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have announced plans to introduce a bill in both Houses which include creation of a universal gun registry system to keep track of all Americans owning and purchasing firearms.
It requires no stretch of imagination to forecast where adoption of such legislation would lead. Robert Francis "Beto" O’Rourke received resounding applause during last week’s Democratic presidential debate when he pledged to criminalize and confiscate all 10 million or more "assault-style" weapons.
"Hell yes, were going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," he said. "We’re not going to allow them to be used against fellow Americans anymore."
As in the past, the all-too-familiar "assault weapon" banning mantra intentionally or ignorantly conflates fundamentally different fully automatic and semiautomatic firearm features.
Fully automatic continuous-fire ("rat-a-tat-tat") military weapons have been banned under stiff federal penalties from most civilian ownership since 1934 by the National Firearms Act. Semiautomatic firearms (one trigger-pull – one "bang") include a wide variety of popular defense pistols and sporting rifles — yes, the latter including AR-15 and AK-47 clones purposefully rendered incapable of automatic fire.
Lawful Second Amendment-guaranteed decisions whether or not to own firearms are both personal and circumstantial. I am certainly not of a mind to urge anyone to choose either way; but only to carefully consider their whys before deciding whether and what to buy.
My advice that follows briefly highlights key suggestions I previously posted in a much longer May 7, 2013 Forbes .com column, "Some Important Considerations for First-Time Gun Buyers: Lessons from Personal Experience."
At last count, that article has received close to 285,000 reader hits.
First, if purchasing a firearm for defense, are you truly capable and willing to take an assailant’s life if you and or a loved are in mortal danger?
If "no," don’t plan to own one.
If "yes," proceed to seek the most well-informed and trustworthy advice you can find regarding which type(s) of firearms seem to best fit your special circumstances and priorities.
For starters, I generally favor revolvers over semiautomatics for first-time handgun owners. They tend to be simpler and less error and malfunction-prone to operate under stressful conditions.
Most semiautomatics also require extensive break-in range-firing use before they can be fully relied upon for defensive purposes.
Revolvers don’t present the same finicky bullet feeding and casing jam risks.
Having said this, some semiautomatic pistol designs, Glock for example, do combine simple operating features, high reliability, fine accuracy, increased bullet capacity, and excellent value-priced quality.
Never — not ever — buy a gun primarily because it is cheap.
There is no bargain that compromises safety and reliability.
Pick a gun that also combines adequate defensive caliber potency (9mm or greater) with sufficient accuracy and shooting comfort. Small, lightweight, short-barrel guns — even those of overly-modest caliber — typically have unpleasant recoil that discourages regular practice.
If you’re interested in something very compact to carry (in a purse, for example) — or if you sleep in an upper level bedroom - you might seriously think about getting two different guns. The larger, more accurate one should be the one you plan to spend the most time practicing with to develop proficiency and confidence.
No gun has any defensive value unless it’s rapidly accessible and fully loaded when immediate urgent needs arise. For home protection where curious children and immature young adults may be present this decision might favor a semiautomatic and separately-stored magazine hidden close by. Otherwise, a revolver may be just fine.
Finally, take a firearms training course such as one offering concealed carry permit classes. Although they won’t make you a marksmanship expert, they will instill basic safety protocols and important knowledge regarding legal restrictions and liabilities.
If you haven’t fired a handgun before, you are likely to find the experience to be a whole lot less frightening than you may have previously imagined. Then go ahead at becoming proficient at an enjoyable new sport shared among lots of really nice people.
And regardless of each of our individual choices, let’s all agree that gun ownership truly isn’t appropriate for everyone. In the hands of those lacking sound character and mental judgment, they make absolutely no sense at all.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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