Don't Be a Victim: Gun safety for new gun owners

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Crime is a major concern and many people are choosing to arm themselves for personal protection. The holiday season was a busy one at Thunderbolt Guns with many buyers purchasing a firearm for the very first time.

"The first thing we tell them is you need to get some training. If you are not involved in the gun culture, you haven't done any shooting—you need serious training especially if you bought the gun for self-defense," said owner Dick Berman, who also teaches firearms safety training.

Berman says there's a lot people need to learn before ever handling a gun or the wrong person could get hurt.

"You notice my trigger finger is extended alongside the pistol it is outside the trigger guard and the pistol is pointed in a safe direction."

Not indexing is just one of the mistakes new gun owners often make.  Failing to safety check—and clear the chamber is another.

"If you are going to be doing any kind of practical exercises such as dry fire you don't even want a single round of ammunition in the room when you are doing the dry fire."

It's also important that you store a gun properly.

"But there is a little bit of a dilemma and that dilemma is that when you need to get access to it you need to get access to it really quickly," Berman said.

That's why Berman recommends a small single gun vault—that can quickly be opened with a card or fingerprint, or a wrist bracelet.

"These confrontations in the real world go down very quickly."

Repetitive practice is also crucial—so that knowing how to handle the weapon becomes engrained in one's mind—and Berman says they must also be ready and willing to use it.

"I have a lot of people that will come into the store and their attitude is I really don't want to shoot anybody, I just want to show the gun to Mr. bad guy and that will scare him away.  That's another urban legend, it's a pipe dream.  You are setting yourself up to have your weapon taken away from you and used against you by Mr. bad guy," he said.

Most gun shops either offer training or can tell you where you can get it.  It's also your responsibility to know local, state, and federal laws that are relevant to you.

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