This post is brought to you by Insterstate Guns located in Hammond, Louisiana.
I did not grow up in a gun household. I lived in the suburbs and no one in my family was an outdoorsman or hunter. The world of shooting and guns was something I never thought about. As a result, I have spent most of my life extremely uncomfortable around guns. My method for dealing with them was to avoid them. See a gun? Walk in the other direction. Or leave. Honestly, this isn’t a terrible method except when you do what I did–marry a gun person.
My husband grew up shooting for fun. He likes to tell people that he killed a lot of Pepsi cans back in the day. He didn’t hunt–he just shot. He was also active duty in the military for five years and did five years of ROTC so he did plenty of shooting then too. I happily avoided all of this. Guns stayed at work and I stayed at home gun free. The day came when my husband brought home a gun and I continued with my policy of ignoring its existence.
I started to get increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, however. Our children are getting more mobile and and can practically move a mountain to get to some cookies. I can only assume they’ll get better at this as time goes by. My husband tried to show me how to shoot right before a hurricane arrived and I freaked out royally. Note: right before hurricanes is the WORST time to do almost anything except maybe put gas in your car. Or drive to the liquor store. Whatever gets you through.
Meanwhile on social media I like to say things about “responsible” gun owners. I like to encourage people to be safe and smart with their guns. I’m not against guns, but I believe firmly that gun ownership comes with responsibilities and I had a nagging feeling that maybe I wasn’t keeping up my end of the bargain. I could pretend there wasn’t a gun in my house, but there was and I didn’t know enough about it to check to see if it was loaded. I felt guilty having an opinion on anything, and I wasn’t living up to my ideals.
So when Interstate Guns contacted me about working together I already knew exactly what I wanted to learn and talk about.
After discussing all of my thoughts and ideas with them, Interstate Guns graciously offered to put together a shooting and safety class for the writers of Northshore Parent and some of the readers as well. They promised a lot of basics, but also a lot of safety. Our class was taught by the Advantage Group, also located in Hammond, and I learned a ton and feel significantly more confident in making decisions about firearms and their safety.
In the class I learned:
- Never point a gun at someone unless you want to kill them (not even when loading, unloading or walking)
- You will want to point a gun at someone. No, this is not something they taught, but something I observed. Five seconds after picking up a gun, my instinct was to point it at something. I stopped myself, but whoa could that instinct be dangerous in wrong circumstances. Accept that this is fairly typical behavior and actively teach skills to not do this. Teach yourself and if there are children in your house, teach them too. I had to specifically ask the proper way to walk and hold a gun. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
- Women often let other people buy them a gun. Don’t do this! You do not need a special “girl” gun but rather should find one that you are able to handle appropriately and safely.
- You probably shouldn’t keep a gun in your purse. I’m kind of shocked that people do this, but a woman shot a man accidentally in Texas doing this very thing. They make specific purses for guns so if you want to walk around with it in your shoulder bag, get one of those. And if for some reason you have to have your gun in your purse, make sure there is nothing else in there because random junk can accidentally set it off if it gets jammed in the trigger area.
- You should use your finger to make sure there are no bullets in your gun because your finger in more reliable than your eyes in the dark.
- Using a shot gun to “spray and pray” isn’t a great idea for home safety. Modern shotguns have a pretty tight pattern and there’s plenty of room for you to miss completely. Far better to learn how to shoot properly.
- High is not an appropriate safety measure. (Like putting a gun in the top of your closet isn’t enough)
- Keep a flashlight with your gun. The last thing you want to do it walk around your house in the middle of the night with your gun pointed up and out. Use a flashlight if you hear something suspicious and only raise a gun once you’ve identified an intruder.
Our instructor was former military and had been in many gun battles in Iraq and is now a police officer. One thing I noticed is that there was no bravado with him–he wasn’t showing off and he was always respectful of the weapons. You see pictures of people walking around with big guns slung around the waist while they shop at Target? I don’t see this guy ever doing that–he has too much respect for how powerful these weapons are. While many of the women had fun, it wasn’t a silly or joking time. It was serious.
We wrapped up the day by learning about gun safes including some that actually read your fingerprints. There are tiny safes designed specifically to keep guns away from children. Some so small they could fit in the drawer in your nightstand. There is NO EXCUSE for not having a gun properly stored. I went home and had a lot of opinions on the situation at our house and how we could improve the safety of our storage. I’m able to make better decisions because I got over my fear and learned what I needed to know.
If you are interested in purchasing a firearm or a gun safe, I would highly recommend the folks at Interstate Guns in Hammond. They aren’t a bit patronizing and were very encouraging and thoughtful in the presentation they put together for us. They never treated us like we were silly or incapable. I’m not running out and buying ten new guns (although I am probably getting one of those little gun safes), but if I did want to purchase one, I would trust these people to steer me in the right direction.