Buying Your First Gun

Since I moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania almost 10 years ago, I noticed that folks out here are gun crazy—not necessarily Ted Nugent gun crazy—they just love their guns. Almost everyone I've met either owns a gun, has a collection of guns, or, since carry permits are more easily obtainable in Pennsylvania than New Jersey, keeps their pistols on their person. And it ain't just guys, either; a lot of gals out here are armed, too (so watch where you put your hands fellas).

As a 2nd Amendment advocate, I was beginning to feel left out because I didn't own a gun. So did another relocated Jersey friend of mine (whom we'll refer to as "Connor," per his request), who recently bought his first handgun. But first he asked some gun owners we know what firearm to get. The BIG question was, “What do you want to use the gun for: hunting, home protection, sport?” Connor said it was mainly for protection. One guy said, “All you need is a pump-action shotgun. If a thief enters your home, you may not even have to fire it. Once he hears that KA-CHINK!!! he'll turn around in a hurry.” Another fellow said, “Get a revolver; you won't have to worry about it jamming on you.” Others suggested Glocks, Rugers, Berettas, etc. Connor did some of his own research, but was still undecided. Then, a buddy took him to a local gun show. I asked Connor to share his experience with me, and here's pretty much how he told it:

Once inside the show the place was packed. You had wall-to-wall shotguns, rifles, pistols, ammo, antique firearms, knives, blackjacks, brass knuckles, lead shot filled gloves, tasers, martial arts weapons—anything that can inflict pain or death was readily available for sale. It was (pardon his expression), “mind-blowing.”

They browsed around and eventually found themselves eyeing a Smith & Wesson Walther P22, which Connor's friend said was a good "starter" pistol. He called it a 'plinker.' The salesman let him hold it, and “it felt GOOD!” (Memories of playing Army as a kid danced in his head.) The price was reasonable, too. Then he showed Connor a Ruger 22. It felt even better and was even a little cheaper, but it was the last one they had. Now, not sure which one to buy, Connor asked the salesman if he would hold it for him while they browsed around a little more. When they returned to the counter, another guy was admiring the Ruger as another salesman wrote-up the order. Conner turned to the guy and said, “Hey man, this is my first gun. I really wanted that one.” The guy was nice enough, but then he held up a piece of paper and said, “I got a list of guns to buy and this one's on it, but that Walther's a good piece.”

This was Connor's logic: Chances were he wasn't going to be using a gun on intruders very often, so it would be nice to have something he could also use for target practice; if he ever needed it for self-defense, it would do the job (hopefully).

So, following a background check and filling out more forms than it takes to close a mortgage, Connor bought the Walther only to find out the next day that there was no 22LR ammo to be found—ANYWHERE. His buddy gave him a box of 50 rounds, but to this day, Connor still hasn't fired the darn thing. In the meantime, he's signed-up for a gun safety and training class.