1. The first rule of carrying is you do not talk about carrying. Or at least you don’t pull your gun out and show your buddies. Be proud about exercising your Second Amendment rights, but if you’re going to carry concealed, it’s best to keep it concealed. In that vein …
2. Don’t treat open carriers as less-than. I’m not a fan of open carry for a couple of reasons, but in states where it’s legal, it’s a valid choice that some people are going to make, and you shouldn’t judge them for it or put them in the “what an idiot” category. Which leads me to …
3. Don’t let the 2A community be divided. The Second Amendment is for everyone, and it transcends political lines more than you might be aware. Just because someone doesn’t look like you, act like you, live their life the way you do, or even vote the way you do doesn’t mean they should be excluded from gun ownership. Don’t let our differences splinter our support for 2A issues. And if you support the Second Amendment, I encourage you to support all of it. That means supporting ownership of guns you might not care anything about.
4. Don’t look down on others who carry a smaller gun than you or who don’t carry every day. Everyone is going to handle gun ownership and concealed carry differently. There are plenty of people out there who will buy a gun for protection, shoot it once and put it in a bedside stand, not to be touched for years. Do we want them to practice more often? Of course. But regardless, they’re part of the gun-owning community, and pushing them out by telling them they’re not good enough is only going to foster division.
5. Don’t be the “you’re doing it wrong” person. When someone posts pictures of themselves or someone else shooting at the range, the social media comment sections tend to fill up with three types of comments: Positive or negative reinforcement (“That’s awesome!” or the uninformed “Oh dear, that looks dangerous.”), weirdo jokes (“Whoa, her husband better look out, she can shoot!”) and criticism (“Hold it this way next time.”). That last one is a pet peeve of mine. Unless safety rules are being violated, just let people have their fun without telling them they’re not doing it right. The last thing a brand-new shooter wants is to get all excited about their first day at the range, only to have the wind taken out of their sails by a bunch of know-it-alls telling them everything they're doing incorrectly. Just be nice and supportive!
6. Don’t be obnoxious about gun ownership. Keep it classy and hold yourself to a high standard of behavior. You can read more about being a good ambassador for gun ownership in a different article.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have questions about some aspect of gun ownership, just ask! The 2A community is overwhelmingly friendly and accommodating to those who show genuine interest. Total strangers at your local range or gun store clerks will be happy to teach you whatever you need to know. If you have a lot of questions, try taking a class or finding an instructor to guide you. Online gun forums and groups are hit-or-miss in the friendly category, but there are plenty of great resources online that will support your efforts to learn more about shooting and firearms. Ask away!
8. Don’t forget that guns are to be taken seriously. Hunting and the shooting sports are statistically extraordinarily safe, and that’s because responsible gun owners take safety seriously. We don’t want you to be afraid of your tools, but guns are not toys and shouldn’t be treated too casually. Carry, handle and store them safely. Have fun when you’re shooting, but never forget the consequences of negligence.
9. Don’t fan-girl too hard. I get it; you love your brand. You think your gun is the greatest gun in the history of guns. It’s awesome that you’ve found the perfect firearm for you, but there are other excellent guns out there too, and what works for you might not be the best choice for someone else. Keep on preaching the Glock Gospel to anyone who will listen, but leave some room for others to enjoy their own brands without dumping on their choices.
10. Don’t treat your gun like it’s magic. Carrying a gun doesn’t automatically keep you safe in all situations. If you fall prey to the “gun as talisman” fallacy, you might get yourself into stupid situations you would have been better off avoiding because you allowed the gun to give you a false sense of confidence or bravado.
11. Don’t keep the secret to yourself. Responsible gun ownership and exercise of your Second Amendment rights is a joy and a pleasure. Spread the word! Invite a friend to the range. Teach your kids to shoot. Help normalize gun ownership among your circle of influence, always highlighting safety.