by Heather Wilson, Guest Contributor
Since ISIS’ distribution of a hit list targeting military personnel and their use of social media to threaten military wives, milspouses are facing dangers that seemed non-existent before the now standard presence of the internet in our lives.
Military spouses are actively seeking methods to protect themselves and their families. For some, topping the list of options is gun ownership.
There is, of course, a roadblock which Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia addressed earlier this month when he introduced the Protect Our Military Families’ 2nd Amendment Rights Act. Active duty military personnel are exempt from laws that require them to be a resident of the state in which they wish to purchase a gun however, this exemption does not extend to their spouses. What Rigell is proposing would allow husbands and wives to purchase guns outside their state of residence.
Never a decision to be taken lightly, if you are contemplating the purchase of a firearm here are 10 things you should know about bringing a gun into your home:
1. Whether a Gun Is Right for You
Owning a weapon and being prepared to use it are 2 very different things.
- Can you deal with the potential consequences of taking a life?
- Will the gun work for your lifestyle or will you worry about who has access to it?
- Are you confident in your abilities to maintain and utilize a gun?
It is imperative you are mentally equipped to take on the responsibilities that come with not only owning a gun, but pulling its trigger if the time comes.
2. What the Gun is for
Do you want to own a gun for self-defense purposes only? Do you want to have the ability to modify your weapon in order to hunt? Do you want to just shoot at the range to blow off steam? Is it an emotional comfort to make you feel safe?
Make sure your decision is informed and for the right reasons. Don’t allow yourself a false sense of security because you own a gun.
3. If You Are Eligible to Own a Gun
If residency is not a concern, consulting your state’s Bureau of Firearms website is a simple way to obtain the requirements to purchase a gun. Your local police station or the gun shop in which you wish to make your purchase can conduct a background check for you. There is usually a fee involved.
You will not be deemed eligible to own a gun if you have a history mental illness, felony or domestic abuse convictions, you have a convicted felon living in your home, you take certain medications, you are not a U.S. citizen or you are not of age. The age requirements vary dependent upon the type of firearm you wish to purchase and the state in which you live.
4. State and County Laws
While the federal government has its own regulations, each state also has its own set of laws. Federal law takes precedence, but you should know both.
If you are PCSing and will travel across state lines, you will need to consult your current state’s laws for transporting a gun in a vehicle as well as the laws of each state through which you travel.
5. Military Base Firearm Laws
In addition to federal, state and county laws we exist under another set of rules reserved for military personnel and their families. If you live on a military installation, you may not keep a gun in your home. You may not even drive onto base or post with a gun in your vehicle unless it is registered with the provost marshal.
All guns must be stored in the armory. In order to use it, you must check it out of the armory and return it as soon as you are finished.
You also may not carry it anywhere on base unless you are on-duty military police or a civilian police officer conducting official business, even if the state in which you live has issued you a concealed carry permit.
6. How to Educate Yourself
In addition to online resources some military installations offer gun education classes and shooting ranges through MWR. If these are not available on your base or post, organizations like the National Rifle Association offer instruction and training. There are also programs designed for women and courses are tailored to your specific needs.
7. How to Educate Your Children
One of the biggest concerns and controversies with bringing a gun into the home is the potential exposure to children. The daughter of a firearms expert, I grew up with a healthy respect for guns and they were always present in our home. They were not hidden from my siblings and me, and my father addressed our questions rather than trying to prohibit our natural curiosity.
Be proactive and answer your kids’ questions before they try to find things out on their own.
Take advantage of resources that are available to empower you and your children. Project Child Safe provides a video to help you get the conversation started and has issued a child’s pledge that will let your kids know you are confident in their ability to keep themselves accountable to your gun safety rules.
8. The Type of Gun that’s Right for You
My husband can shoot a .45 easily while the recoil packs a punch for me. I also have very small hands and reloading ammunition isn’t easy for me when it comes to certain weapons.
Hand size and strength should be taken into consideration when selecting a gun. Some people decide on a shotgun because it has a more forgiving trajectory and requires a less precise aim.
There are several factors to consider. The gun shop can help explain which weapon would be best for your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! They will be happy to answer them for you. If they aren’t, go somewhere else.
9. Proper Maintenance and Storage
After each shooting session, you should always clean and lubricate your weapon. If your firearm is simply being stored it can be checked every couple of months to make sure it is not drawing moisture. Newer, high-quality gun safes have built-in dehydrators to prevent rusting and when it comes to storage, there are many options; open display (guns in a rack hanging on the wall), closed display (glass enclosure) and fully concealed gun safes.
Some people want their guns under lock and key and others want them readily available for use. Selecting the right option is dependent upon who has access to the weapon and state law.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice (Muscle Memory)
Through repetitive drawing, reloading and shooting with both hands, you will learn to go through automatic motions so you can stay focused on a potential threat. You will not always be in a controlled setting with bright lights and safety cover. It’s very likely if you ever have to draw your weapon and actually shoot, it will be in a low-light, adrenaline-pumping situation.
To get to the point you can use your hands without having to look at them and have confidence when you pull the trigger, you have to practice!
It goes without saying gun ownership is a serious commitment. Should you exercise your right to own, always maintain a healthy respect for your weapon and the Constitution which allows you to keep it. Stay educated. Stay informed. Stay empowered.
Are you considering getting a gun? What questions do you have about gun ownership as a military spouse?
A note from the writer: Special thanks to my husband– firearms expert, hunter, former police officer and U.S. Navy sailor for sharing his knowledge for this article.
Business Traveler NA’s Business Traveler of the Year, Heather Wilson, is a corporate event marketing manager proudly married to a Navy sailor. A newlywed and proud cancer survivor who made history with her belly-button, she is addicted to loose-leaf tea and despite being half-Colombian has never had a cup of coffee in her life. Heather blogs about her adventures and all things “life” at Life of a Traveling Navy Wife. When she’s not traveling the world, you can find Heather with her husband on their Harley Davidson enjoying the beautiful San Diego scenery, strolling through Balboa Park walking her pet lizards, giving back to her community and trying to figure out to which hair color she should finally stick. You can follow Heather on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.