Perspectives: Thoughts for first-time gun owners

OPINION – We’re constantly told that they make us less safe. Politicians relentlessly try to find ways to restrict our access to them. One thing is crystal clear; the American public continues to arm itself at an unprecedented rate.

Gun sales in Utah alone are poised to set new records this year and applications for concealed weapons permits are also off the charts. Whether this is in response to mass shootings or simply pushing back against gun control advocates, who would try to restrict gun ownership, doesn’t really matter. Those choosing to purchase a firearm for the first time must learn to sort reality from fiction.

Here are some simple rules of thumb to consider when choosing a weapon for personal defense.

For a person who wishes to be armed while going about their daily business, a handgun is the best tool because it is highly portable and concealable. It will be where you need it when you need it.  Handguns are designed to deal with unexpected deadly threats that appear suddenly at and close range.

When choosing a handgun, stopping power is a major consideration. Minor caliber rounds like the .22-caliber long rifle or .25-caliber Automatic Colt Pistol, are not particularly effective at halting a criminal attack. In a self-defense situation, the goal is to stop the attack as quickly as possible and that means something that hits with authority.

A better choice would be 9 mm, .38-caliber special, .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, or the .45-caliber ACP. A solid hit to the vital organs from any of these calibers will go a long way towards taking the fight out of an adversary.

Size is another factor that must be considered before purchasing a handgun. Small handguns are much easier to conceal, but can be more difficult to shoot accurately, especially when under life-threatening stress. Larger handguns can be more difficult to conceal, but they are easier to control and much more pleasant to train with. And training is essential no matter what you choose to carry.

Revolvers are among the simplest handguns to operate in that they are the original point-and-click interface. The trade off is that they are limited in terms of cartridge capacity. A pistol, on the other hand, requires a bit more skill to manipulate, but generally can hold more cartridges in its magazine and can be quickly reloaded with a fresh magazine.

Linked here is an excellent primer on the merits of revolver vs. semi-auto pistol.

A person who will be carrying their firearm on a daily basis needs to do the research and spend the coin to put together a proper carry rig. At its most basic, this will consist of a good quality, stiff belt, a well-made holster that covers the trigger guard, and a magazine pouch to carry spare ammo.

Assembled correctly, a proper carry rig will allow a person to comfortably conceal and tote their handgun all day.

This is more important than it may sound because if a handgun is uncomfortable to wear, the temptation to leave it at home becomes strong.

Now comes the important stuff. Carrying a personal firearm is a serious responsibility. It requires a person to be more than simply a gun owner.

You must become proficient and competent in the use of your sidearm. This means getting the best quality training you can afford and practicing regularly to ingrain skill at arms.

Secondly, you must know the applicable laws of your state and locality. If you’re going to be traveling, you’ll need to know the laws of the places you’ll go. Above all, you must conduct yourself in such a manner that a jury would agree that you acted as any reasonable person would in defending yourself.

Because you are carrying the power of life or death on your person, you must be willing to walk away from confrontation, if at all possible.

Likewise you must be conscious of your surroundings and aware of what others are doing. This isn’t paranoia, but a heightened sense of attentiveness that will allow you to recognize potential trouble and avoid it.

Should you find yourself facing an immediate, unavoidable deadly threat, you must be psychologically capable of inflicting serious harm or a fatal injury on another person.

This decision cannot be made on the spur of the moment. It is a line in the sand that must be drawn ahead of time. It requires serious thought.

Owning a firearm for personal protection is not for everyone.


Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Yooper October 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I gots my Betty Lou, yeah, she the one. She’s a combination AK-57 uzzie radar lasar triple barrel double scoped heat-seakin shotgun

  • Gun Sales October 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Record gun sales and concealed weapons permits? Does this coincide with the increase of domestic violence and assaults on females in Utah? Did you see that recent article about the St George homeboy who beat up his woman, a teenage girl, had a weapon and then took off in his truck and hit a deer? A real man. Hey, too bad your Republican senators voted against a bill the addresses violence toward women. Oh well, the women can buy guns and get trained to use them.

    • Zeke October 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Good, honest law-abiding citizens who own guns far out weigh the very small percentage of those who violate that right. Just like the vast majority of people who drive vehicles, use knives, swing baseball bats conduct themselves in a civil manner. However, there are the occasional knuckleheads that give all those objects a bad name too. Let’s start blaming people for bad behavior and not everyday objects. And yes, women should purchase, train and use weapons when necessary.

  • DoubleTap October 28, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Very well said Bryan. I would, however, disagree on one account of your article. “Minor caliber rounds like the .22 caliber long rifle or the .25 caliber Automatic Colt Pistol, are not particularly effective of halting a criminal attack”.
    A .22lr or even a .25 acp would definitly be better than no gun at all. And with proper training and shot placement, and in the right hands, either of those calibers CAN be effective at stopping an attack.

  • Sagemoon October 28, 2013 at 11:23 am

    That’s some good advice, Bryan. I’m a woman with a concealed weapon permit. For someone who is not experienced in handling firearms, I strongly suggest a revolver to start with. Women have a terrific option in purchasing a concealed carry purse. Ladies, just remember to carry the purse so the zipper to the weapon is pointing to the front of your body for easy access otherwise there is no point in carrying. Having the ability to carry a gun gives me a lot of confidence, especially as I frequently travel to the Wasatch front alone. I was a bit uncertain in the beginning if I really wanted to carry so I took a gun safety class first which gave me the confidence to practice shooting a handgun and then I got my permit.

  • Hunter October 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

    This seems more like a how-to or shopping article than an opinion column. And perhaps, Mr. Hyde, the reason for the record number of conceal carry permit applications in UT is our lax requirements resulting in out of staters coming here to get one.

    • Colonial October 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Can out of state residents use a Utah Concealed carry permit in their home state??

      • Hunter October 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        It depends on the state. Utah has reciprocity with many states that have more stringent requirements. So, people come here to get the permit under our less stringent rules, then are essentially licensed to carry in their own state. Some states have or are considering ending reciprocity with Utah for this reason.

        • DoubleTap October 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

          Ending reciprocity with Utah is really a non-issue. As a Utah concealed carry permitee, I also hold valid Arizona and Nevada concealed carry permits. About the ONLY states I cannot legally carry concealed are California and Illinois; which really doesn’t matter as I do not travel to those states.

      • Bryan Hyde October 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        Here’s a nice list of states that have reciprocity with Utah:
        Some states resent the fact that Utah is reaping a windfall from the thousands of permits it is issuing. Their decision to no longer recognize the Utah permit is based on desires for revenue more so than concerns for safety.

        • NO_SIX October 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm

          Things must have changed then. At one time Utah’s fee to obtain a CCP was barely covering the cost to process it.

  • philiplo October 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve made it past the 50 year mark in age, and have never found myself in (or near) any situation requiring a firearm for resolution. Luck? Judgment? Who knows.
    I will continue to be firearm free because I believe having them at hand can cause escalation where none is necessary. Also, the danger of a weapon being accidentally left accessible to children is a frightening scenario, one that would be infinitely more probable than a life-threatening confrontation with an assailant.

    • Zeke October 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Your comment is exactly why some people should just stay away from guns. It’s not something you need to have a part of your lives. There are however, many of us who enjoy guns of all kinds, hunting, target shooting and concealed carry. We are very comfortable doing this and don’t even think of those things that are concerning you.

  • Aaron October 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I have had my first handgun purchase and concealed carry permit for about 6 months now. So I am still relatively new to the whole concealed carry community. First I have also been fortunate enough to know some friends who own guns that were kind enough to take me shooting, as my fist question was “what caliber should I buy?” What I found is that it’s not as much about the stopping power, as it is about what caliber you can handle shooting and keep on target. In my case, I found 9mm to be my choice, at least for now. It just works for me, as a different caliber might work for you. Second, to any new gun owners, or buyers, another word of advice. Don’t let nay-sayers ultimately deter your choice of whether or not you should buy a gun in the fist place. Growing up myself, guns were frowned upon, and buying my recent and first purchase has drawn a lot of people asking why on earth would I even need one. My answer is heaven forbid I should ever need to use my weapon, I would much rather have the option, than be a sitting duck. Third, before you get your gun at all, have a lock box before hand, not after! Your weapon is absolutely NOT safe from children of any age, if it is not locked up. Not in your sock drawer, not high on a shelf where you assume they wont be able to get to it. Locked up period. The last thing you need is a court finding you guilty for an accident or death occurring, simply because you didn’t take precautions that just make common sense. Fourth, and finally, get trained, whether it’s advanced training, or target practice. No training at all is senseless, as well as being dangerous. You cant simply holster a weapon, and expect to use it in a situation without taking time to learn it. Eventually with enough training, steps you learn in shooting become as automatic as making sure to draw your seatbelt across your chest and fasten it without even looking.

  • Karen October 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    The rise in gun sales is actually pretty simple. The NRA told everyone that, if elected, President Obama would take away their guns. Who could forget Wayne LaPierre shouting about it before President Obama was elected the first time. Then, after President Obama was re-elected, Mr. Pierre was even more sure that President Obama was going to take away “our” guns. Fear trumps all!

    • Real info October 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Actually there are about 4.5 million NRA members and there at least 100-150 million gun owners. Who knows for sure. So even though the NRA fights for every gun owners rights the ratio of members to total gun owners is uneven to say the least. To think that the NRA puts the fear in everyone to go out and buy guns is ridiculous. Most people are using their own common sense and a gut feeling of current events to go and buy guns and ammo. Possibly an awakening to the knowledge of the 2nd amendment right and the urge for personal defense motivated some folks too. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with law abiding folks owning guns. It’s the media that is placing the fear in people to look down on gun owners as being disturbed in some way or another.

      • Karen October 29, 2013 at 6:48 am

        One doesn’t have to be a member of the NRA to have heard the fear-mongering about the government taking away “our guns.” And, obviously, there are plenty of reasons why people buy guns. My point was about the increase in sales of guns being due to fear. And, in my view, the media does not portray gun owners as disturbed, just the ones that march in protest to the Utah State Capitol with a careless disregard for gun safety. Everyone has seen those pictures. The majority of gun owners would never do that.

  • Voice of reason October 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I was reading through the comments and noticed one point that needs to be clear. Any jackass can get their concealed permit in Utah. This is why other states don’t allow our permit in their state (it has nothing to do with revenue) . Some states require a 30 hour class with range days to get your concealed permit. Utah’s is a four hour classroom session. For anybody who is familiar with guns and has REAL gun training, going to one of these classes can be terrifying at best. You have several people who think this class is Swat School, and come out thinking they have recieved world class training. Really it’s a test and dry firing a gun twice. No firearm qualification to show you can shoot your gun properly, weapons retention teqniques are not included. They do talk about Utah laws but this is overshadowed by the awesomeness of carrying a concealed gun.

    What I am about to say will infuriate anybody who is a gun activist. Owning and carrying a gun is a privilege, if you screw it up it can be taken away(charged with a felony, domestic violence, drugs, ect), it requires somebody who is mature enough to handle the responsibility.

    I actually thought the article was fairly on point, but should have started with the responsibility and training part and less of the “you need a big gun”. Maybe there should be an article on how to improve our ccw class to give people the knowledge of guns.

    • Bryan Hyde October 29, 2013 at 6:44 am

      For people being introduced to firearms for the first time, it’s probably a good idea to save the chest-beating and tactical flexing until they’ve picked up on the basics.
      Perhaps this will help:
      Knowing WHEN to use a firearm in self-defense is what’s primarily covered in Utah’s course. Learning HOW is the responsibility of the individual gun owner. That part should not be mandated by the state in order to exercise a God-given right. Some firearms instructors tend to see such things purely in terms of dollar signs.

      • Ron October 29, 2013 at 8:24 am

        A “God-given right”? Wow! I must have missed that passage in the Bible.

        • Bryan Hyde October 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

          Try looking in the Declaration of Independence. If our rights come from the government, then they can be abridged at the whim of whomever is ruling. If they are “endowed” upon us by our “Creator,” as Jefferson wrote, then there is an upper limit to the powers of government.

          • Abused Rights October 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

            Unless you’re governed by the likes of Mayor McArthur who feels it’s okay to trod on your rights and freedoms (illegal trespass and searches) because he acts like supreme dictator. Then your rights go right out the window.

      • The Voice Of Reason October 29, 2013 at 8:54 am

        I agree that everybody might have their own style of learning guns, there should be a qualification as part of the ccw class. This might curb the current puppy mill that is the Utah State ccw class. I know several people that have ccw permits, some people I know shouldn’t have been able to get it due to their lack of knowledge of firearms. I have never heard of somebody failing this class, and this is why people come here to get their ccw.

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