As the national Covid-19 health crisis, increasing civil unrest and the prospect of restrictive gun laws drive gun sales through the roof, I can only hope that firearms safety courses across the country are having paralleled success. I love to see Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights, but all new gun owners should seek out appropriate training in order to learn how to safely handle their new firearms.
Gun shops across the country have seen their store shelves emptied. I don't mean just a few popular models soon to be replenished by the next UPS drop-off; I mean literally zero guns left on the walls, behind the counters or in the display cases. Gun manufacturers can’t keep up with the popular models that are typically the first to go. Anything that is or can be labeled as a home-defense gun has been snatched up by the flood of new gun owners.
Firearm instructors are responding to the sudden surge with increased educational material and additional classes. The NRA launched online courses amidst quarantine lockdowns. My husband and I own a New York-based firearms instruction company, Renaissance Firearms Instruction, and we recently added a New Gun Owner 101 course to our line-up. It has quickly turned into one of my favorite courses to teach. My favorite part is learning the students' unique stories as to why they bought their first gun.
Continual training is the key to being able to handle a firearm in a stressful and adrenaline-fueled situation.
The most common concern we have been addressing in recent months is about home-defense. Many are worried about the increasing lawlessness, break-ins and subsequently being able to protect their family in a worst-case scenario. Others are overcoming their personal fear of guns, or preparing for a potential anti-Second Amendment agenda in a new presidential administration. Others, still, are shopping for the reason many seasoned gun owners already know: for fun. I am genuinely interested in every story we hear, but no matter what a new student’s reason for buying a gun, we welcome them with open arms. We treat each incoming student with respect and dedicate the same efforts to help them learn to use a gun safely.
I make it my personal mission to ensure all students leave with a smile on their faces and the desire to continue training, especially first-time gun owners. Regardless of whether they sign up for another one of my classes, research another training facility, or set aside time to practice solo, a willingness to continue training is the best way to foster safe gun-handling habits.
Part of being a responsible gun owner is practicing target shooting safely and accurately so they will be prepared in case of an emergency. If these new gun owners visit the firearm range only once but then hide their guns in a safe, hoping to never have to use it, they won’t be prepared to use it when the time comes to defend themselves. Continual training is the key to being able to handle a firearm in a stressful and adrenaline-fueled situation. I am happy to report we have seen numerous return customers after the New Gun Owner 101 class. Attendees coming back for additional training is what gives this exhausted trainer hope for the future.
So the next time you purchase a defensive firearm, remember that the next call you should make is to your friendly neighborhood firearms instructor to schedule a course or lesson. Women, specifically, are the fastest growing demographic of gun owners. So ladies, reach out to your friends and family to make sure the new gun owners in your life are finding the right resources. If it’s difficult to find an opening, please be patient and find comfort in the fact that more new gun owners than ever are seeking instruction on the responsibilities of firearm ownership.
About the Author: Barb Melloni, an NRA Certified Instructor, is vice president of Renaissance Firearms Instruction based in Long Island, N.Y.