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by Gila Hayes

First, a big thank you to a member from Wyoming who after reading the November journal video wrote, “This proud ACLDN member wants to thank you for your recent Making Statements interview with Marty. So much excellent information there and conveyed in a concise, yet easy-to-understand manner. I especially appreciate yours and Marty’s use of examples to make and/or clarify important points. It makes the information very relateable to the ordinary armed citizen who doesn’t possess a law degree.

“This relevant subject deserves the time that you two are giving it because of all the misinformation floating around out there. In a word, it is simply ‘necessary.’ Thank you for recognizing that, and for including the link to the recent video on the same topic.”

On Thanksgiving Day at my house, pre-dinner and post-dinner conversation is always interesting. In recent weeks, a couple of shootings have made the news, complete with video. Thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, the discussions that are sure to follow are like the blind men patting down the elephant and erroneously identifying the creature as a rope, a wall, a snake or a tree trunk. Trying to make sense of critical incidents based on news coverage is a lot the same. Whether through malice or simple ignorance, body cam video, home security camera video, or even cell phone video is edited and often loses details that show justification, and even the most fervent self-defense advocate is tempted to say, “Well, I would not have done that,” because critical details were cut out by the video editor.

On Thursday, one of my guest’s pre-dinner observations were right on point. Many more people have guns today, so we must expect more armed responses to crime, she noted. On Black Friday, The Reload reported that this month’s “polling from Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies (CAPS) and Harris Insights and Analytics...found that 63 percent of voters said they felt the need to have a gun in case of being attacked by criminals. By contrast, just 37 percent said they thought owning a gun was unnecessary.”

There are many reasons that gun ownership is increasing. During the decade past, several chief law-enforcement officers have candidly advised their constituency that citizens must be prepared to put up their own line of defense against violent attackers. Citizens who previously would never have allowed guns in their homes are alarmed by evidence that police protection is an illusion. They’ve bought guns, but not all, as so aptly described by John Farnam in an interview at , understand that a gun, or any tool for that matter, is only as good as the skill, knowledge, and commitment of the user.

You may know one or two such gun owners, whether through conversation while waiting for your shooting lane at the range, as workplace acquaintances, or even members of your own extended family. They need mentors! They need people who can help them avoid the pitfalls common to the untrained, including–

  • Failure to secure guns not under their immediate control.
  • Fiddling with the gun while its loaded and violating one or several of the Four Universal Rules of Gun Safety.
  • Accidents stemming from poorly made holsters, or carrying with no holster at all.
  • Walking out and leaving a gun on the tank of a public toilet.
  • Embarrassing questions arising when a gun is discovered in a desk drawer at work, or revealed when a shirt or jacket rides up.
  • And many more, to which readers can contribute new and unusual twists, I suspect.

Without even accounting the legal liabilities of using a gun in self defense, the pitfalls for an uneducated, untrained gun owner are numerous. If you’ve carried a gun for any length of time, you have likely come close but saved yourself from some of those problems. The newly minted gun owners you encounter need your mentorship to help them avoid the same problems. If you are not able to be that influential mentor, please introduce those in your sphere of influence to high quality training, and for those you love, a gift certificate to a class at a respected regional firearms school, and maybe even an offer to attend with your friend or relative (shoot weak-handed or shoot the drills with a revolver if you ordinarily carry a semi-auto). It is one of the kindest things you can do and you’ll be surprised what you can learn.

While what we do at Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network will never take the place of in-person gun safety training and marksmanship coaching, a gift membership to the Network can also provide the new gun owner about whom you care with a solid education in use of force issues. In December, we all face the daunting challenge of finding gifts that will be meaningful to relatives who “have everything they want.” Give us a call if we can help you give the gift of use of force education and other Network membership benefits to your loved ones.

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