We’ve had several cycles of so-called “panic buying” of firearms and ammunition in the last twenty years.  There was Y2K, when credible authorities warned us that the ticking of the clocks into the Year 2000 would blast all of the computer-dependent First World back into the Stone Age. There was the election of anti-gun President Barack Obama in 2008, and the 2012 Sandy Hook atrocity that triggered a wave of gun-banning sentiment, and the predicted election of Hillary Clinton that had a similar effect in 2016.  Now, of course, the root cause is the coronavirus situation and the semi-shutting down of America.

The current crisis most closely mimics Y2K in one important respect: motivation for firearms purchases.  In the buying surges in between these two events, there were certainly first-time buyers who were tipped over the edge by fear of impending legislation, but a majority of those purchasers were already gun owners who wanted to add an AR15, an 18-shot 9mm, or something similar to their gun collection before the opportunity to do so was foreclosed.

What Y2K had in common with the current situation is this: Credible sources warned the public of an oncoming dystopia in which criminals would run rampant, and something between the looting and related civil disturbances seen during Hurricane Katrina and a never-before-seen Mad Max situation would actually ensue.  That’s why, during Y2K and in today’s situation, we have so many non-gun owners and even anti-gun people who believe they’re going to need a gun to defend their families, because Society has already told them that they won’t be able to count on government to protect them.

This time, though, it’s much more dangerous than Y2K. Twenty years ago, if your friend or relative bought a new gun, they could take a gun safety class or ask someone like you to show them the ropes.  What’s different now is that coronavirus response has shut down most shooting ranges and prohibited the sort of adult education classes where firearms safety is taught.  “Social distancing” commands make it difficult in some areas to even invite friends out to the farm to learn to shoot on the Back Forty.

Just as the economic shutdown has come at a time of peak prosperity, this surge of new gun owners comes at a time when accidental firearms fatalities are at their lowest point in recorded history.  So, what can responsible current gun owners do under the circumstances?

Over at The Firearms Blog, they’ve done an excellent piece on that, which you can link to friends even if you’re all Self-Isolating and Social Distancing: https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2020/03/17/new-gun-safety/ . Share this with friends and relatives who have become new gun owners. 


And feel free to share here anything you’ve done to educate our new crop of “We suddenly realized we needed one for real” gun owners.


  1. For my anti-gun friends and acquaintances who suddenly want to buy firearms due to current events, I’ve been recommending that they don’t. As tactfully as possible, I explain that they surely won’t bother to learn how to safely load, shoot and store the weapons, thus making them far too dangerous to themselves, their families, and the public at large.

    And because so many of them are at heart extreme pacifists, I tell them that since they probably would never shoot an attacking homicidal dirtbag they would be in even greater jeopardy when the criminal removes the gun from their trembling hands and punishes them.

    Instead, I advise these would-be, but deeply inept, gun owners that they and their families would be much more secure by buying pepper spray and better locks for their doors.

    • The present stay-at-home situation reminds me of Sherlock Holmes using his flat for a target range, with maybe the fireplace bricks for a target backstop, at best. At least he had a housekeeper to sweep up the spent brass, and Doctor Watson on call in case of whatever. Wondering what new firearms owners are doing now for shooting ranges where public ones are shut down. Probably mostly doing without. I am also concerned about new owners of semi=autos who won’t be giving their new gats adequate breaking in. Furthermore, imagine many new owners of Government Models racking slides with fingers on triggers while sitting in their cars’ driver’s seats. Might be time for a comprehensive Mag 40 class on the web. Suggest Mas, Paul Harrell, and hopefully some sober, polite critics get together for a free basic course with anonymous access.

      • According to the stories Sherlock shot a patriotic VR (in reference to Queen Victoria) into a wall of the flat, with a “hair trigger” handgun if memory serves.

        More to the point, rubber or wax bullets could be used as they have in days past to practice in a well-ventilated basement, especially if one has a revolver.

  2. I read over the linked article. Before I get to my comments, I need to rant about a “Pet Peeve” of mine. The photograph(s) used with an article should illustrate the content of the article. Unfortunately, especially with articles about firearms, the photographs seem to be picked for dramatic effect rather that illustrative effect.

    Take the photograph in the linked article. This article is directed at first-time gun buyers. So, do we see a picture of a first-time buyer looking over firearms in a gun shop? Do we see a photograph of a firearm that might actually be recommended for a first-time buyer (a S&W EZ model, for example)?

    Noooooo! What we see is a picture of a PDW all tricked out with folding stock, light/lazer, suppressor and red dot sight. I can guarantee you that THIS TYPE OF FIREARM is NOT what first-time gun-owners are buying. What’s next? A gold-plated Desert Eagle in 50 AE caliber? PLEASE!!!!

    Now that I have ranted, I will just repeat some of the suggestions that I have made in previous comments:

    1) The first-time buyer, unable to take a regular course due to this pandemic craze, can still safely take an on-line firearms course. The NRA offers one on firearm basics.

    2) There are a number of good books available that contain valuable information on the defensive use of firearms. For example, I think that every firearm owner ought to read IN THE GRAVEST EXTREME by Mas. While this book is getting a bit dated (in places), it is still the standard on the use of firearms for self-defense, IMO.

    3) Numerous models of CO2 powered airguns are available. Many of them look and handle similar to actual models of firearms. It is likely that a first-time buyer can find an air-pistol similar to his or her real gun. With a suitable backstop, these airguns can be used for training and target practice (safely) at home or in one’s backyard. A lot of the basics of drawing, stance, grip, trigger control and sighting can be learned by using one of these airguns.

    So, despite this media-induced viral panic, there are options still available for a first-time buyer to get some good training.

    • Air pistol?!? They’ll shoot their eye out!

      First, I agree that an air pistol (better airsoft!) is a great training device but…

      Seriously, air pistols require the same kind of safe handling that a firearm does. If they shoot a bb onto a hard surface, they could indeed shoot their eye out!

      Get one that as closely matches your defensive pistol as possible and practice sight alignment and follow-through. But everyone in the room must wear eye protection!

    • @ John B:

      Of course, it should go without saying that all firearms, including airguns, must be handled safely. In his book “Cartridges of the World – 4th Edition – Pages 368-371”, author Frank C. Barnes documents his investigation of an incident where a five (5) year old child was shot and killed by an air-gun. The air-gun was a Sheridan “Blue Streak” 5-mm pump-up pneumatic air-rifle. The child was accidentally shot, at close range, in the chest with this air-rifle. The pellet penetrated the chest wall and then penetrated the heart which ultimately caused the death of the child. According to Frank Barnes: “Open heart surgery failed and the victim expired approximately 30 to 40 minutes after the shooting”.

      During the Napoleonic wars, the Austrian Army actually used air-rifles as weapons of war. There are a number of pre-charged pneumatic rifles, on the market today, that are capable of killing medium game such as deer or wild hogs. No doubt, if you search YouTube, you can find some videos of such hunting.

      So, Yes, all of the safety precautions that apply to regular firearms should be applied to airguns too. Which is good. A new gun-owner can practice safety with his air-gun as he or she also practices drawing, stance, grip, trigger control, sighting and all the other aspects of shooting.

      Nothing in my previous comment should have been taken that I was recommending that safety be “thrown out the window” when it comes to air-guns. I believe that you were “reading something into” my comment that was not really there.

  3. I imagine it is difficult for a trained person to defend themselves, in the dark, under enormous stress, and then to enter the court system and defend themselves against the government.

    Now some pacifist, never-shot-a-gun-before newby buys a gun and ammo. He goes on YouTube and learns how to operate the gun………maybe. And he thinks he can perform well if even one looter breaks in during the daytime. Yeah, right.

    Maybe he has no intention of loading it, but wants to use it as a prop to scare looters away. The newby would probably perform better with a hammer, a kitchen carving knife, a baseball bat or a katana sword. Shorter learning curve.

    Isn’t it fascinating to think how a certain skill set could be in demand for a long time, then, in a brief amount of time, that skill set could be obsolete? Imagine if I sat all day at a computer and lived an upper middle class lifestyle. Then society falls apart, and I find I need to become a combination of warrior, farmer and medic. What do we call that? Culture shock? Maybe it’s techno-shock.

  4. it will be interesting to see if this surge in new gun owners results in a spate of accidents with firearms, and perhaps also a spate of noobs coming to or training academies for professional help learning safe gun handling as well as how to competently use their new firearm and the legal requirements for lawfully employing it in self defense. Hope so, for the sake of the new gun owners!

  5. Valor Ridge and Tactical Response are still open. Anyone who really wants to get trained, can get trained.

  6. One of the best reads that I’ve found is ‘Concealed Carry Class’ by Tom givens. I wish it had been available some time ago when I started getting serious about carrying concealed. It would have saved me time and money. Fortunately I’ve had personal instruction from a local expert who is also the Rangemaster of the local club.
    I also have at least two of Massad’s books and they are excellent as well.

  7. It doesn’t solve the safety and accuracy problem, but at least all those first-time gun-buyers are getting educated about the process: 4473, NICS, can’t sell handguns across state lines or to anyone under 21, etc. Those in places like California, Illinois and New Jersey are getting a real education.

    Next time someone says buying a gun is too easy, they’ll know how it is.

    Down here, my club range is still open, so I can take students one-on-one or two.

    • Worst of all (in their minds), the new gun owners in socialist jurisdictions (California, NY, NJ, etc.) are getting a real education in waiting periods. For the first time in their lives, what sounded like a reasonable law (waiting periods), is now driving them crazy because through fear they want the firearm RIGHT NOW – and can’t get it. Too bad – so sad – NOT!

      • TW,

        It’s sort of the “law of unintended consequences.” I’m sure the voters in socialist areas thought they were voting for policies which would make things better, but they got the opposite.

        Try to think of things governments do well. You will come up with a short list.

      • Just remind them they’re 8,000 times more likely to shoot a family member than an intruder, so it’s probably a good thing they can’t get a gun anyway..

        …and by the time they got the gun out of the safe, removed the trigger lock, got the ammo out of separate locked storage, loaded the gun, and got it into battery, it would likely be too late for a gun to help anyway.

        And, the capper, the life of an armed intruder is always worth *much* more than that of some dirtbag defending his family and trying to prevent the intruder’s right to wealth redistribution.

        “You voted for it, you live with it.”

  8. Had this pandemic been deadlier (knock on wood) then it would be very different. Were we lucky this time?
    If faster and deadlier then food gas utilities water and first responders police would become ineffective or ceased.
    Protecting your family would be quite more important then.
    But now those bio thriller stories seem more real now.
    First time buyers likely will be clueless on firearm training and real use and unprepared in other areas too.

    • John parr,

      I’ve been reading about the 1918 Spanish Flu. It was waaaaaaay worse than what we are experiencing now. Just a few facts; Philadelphia had 13,000 deaths, NYC had 33,000 deaths, and the USA had a total of 675,000 deaths. The population of the world at that time was 1.8 billion. There were perhaps 50 million deaths worldwide, the disease came in three waves lasting a total of 18 months.

      The world was in its last year of WWI at that time, and then this flu, originating in Kansas, swept through, killing more American soldiers than were killed in combat. What a tragedy!

      But then the economy took off in the 1920s. I doubt that will happen this time. I think the coming depression will be worse than the Communist Chinese flu, but then I’m a pessimist, and I’m usually wrong.

      • A REALLY scary thought about 1918 is that if it happened today the MSM would have us all burning our homes and throwing ourselves into the pyre. They would of course save themselves to a world of those who didn’t have their televisions and computers on, oddly enough, the real world.

  9. I contacted my local sheriff’s office to find out what newbie gun owners are supposed to do since they were no longer issuing concealed carry permits during this “crisis”. The sheriff’s employee said the only thing a new gun owner can do is open carry (which is legal in Ohio if you’re “legally” eligible to own firearms). I reminded her that most people aren’t going to do that because, 1) unfortunately, people would look at these people as social outcasts, and 2)fortunately, while the de facto answer is what their office gave me, the de jure answer is that the Second Amendment already guarantees our right to keep and BEAR arms in writing.

    • Looks like the anti-viral mask and open carry may introduce a new wave of the Lone Ranger in Ohio.

  10. I’m curious to see what, other than ammunition, is flying off the shelves. Our area is fairly rural and pretty high in gun ownership. We are also fairly new to allowing concealed carry with out having to get a chl. I’ve been told our one gun store is selling carry-suitable handguns and AR type rifles. However, most sales aren’t new customers.

  11. NRA is posting training materials on pistol, rifle,and shotgun to help with this and encouraging experienced shooters to take them to the range. There are several ranges open in JAX.

  12. Funny s many ranges are closed. Trump’s most recent update specificaly exempted firearms, all asects of them, incluidng firing ranges. Of course, that’s just HIM, and not binding. But it does clearly convey HIS wishes.

    I’m not too worried about all the noobs…. if they ave the intelligence to finally ditch their paranoia about things that say BANG, I m fairly certain that most of them will also realise, after all the bad press about guns, realise that they are inherently dengers (that’s why they WANT one, right?) and therefore they NEED to learn somehow to handle them safely. And, if can be done, deploy them accurately. I think they’ll get it handled somehow. Reading and SOME U Tube videos can be a tremendous help.

    • Tionico,

      I think we forget that Americans will learn how to operate real firearms very quickly. We’ve spent decades watching cop shows, war movies, and playing shoot’em up video games. The newbies will catch on real quick. YES, I’M KIDDING!

      Manipulating video game controls with your thumbs could prepare your mind for a shoot/no shoot scenario, but it won’t prepare your hand muscles. Also, will they remember how to work the safety?

  13. At some point in time, we were all noobs. Many gun owners are effectively noobs after owning a gun for decades. Somehow, we survived and they will too.

    If you know anybody like this, spend some effort trying to recruit them for the training culture and for the political movement. Both things will make the world better.

  14. Mas, Larry here, a MAG member, up to MAG80. Took the MAG40 class in Harrisburg, PA with you twice, MAG80 in Harrisburg, PA in one of the hottest Augusts’ on record and took the MAG20 class in Springfield, VA in March of 2019.

    During these classes, you and I bumped heads concerning “mandatory training” for noobies. You opposed, I supported the concept based on what I have witnessed as a state licensed handgun instructor here in the lovely state of Maryland.

    My argument was the likelihood of gun accidents/thefts because of improper storage and what could be fatal mistakes due to overall ignorance concerning the very nature of gun ownership. You disagreed on the grounds it violates the individual right to bear arms as written in the constitution. We agreed to disagree.

    Additionally you said it is the responsibility of the individual to get the proper training. Well sir, this “pandemic” has created mass panic and most gun stores are empty of inventory of both firearms and ammo.

    When this pandemic-panic is declared flat/over with, etc., I’m sure my calendar is going to be booked for months to come as the responsible will seek the training, but what about all those who aren’t responsible? Their shortcomings on RESPONSIBLE firearm ownership can affect the public’s perception of ALL gun owners when the cascade of thefts/accidents and unlawful use of said noob gun ownership.

    Thank you and stay safe, say hello to the Evil Princess for me, Larry.

    • What “cascade” of thefts/accidents and unlawful use? The data don’t support that. As Mas pointed out, there have been several periods of panic buying. Yet the rates of firearm accidents and unlawful use (aggravated assault and murder) have continuously gone down.

  15. Knowing a few people who bought a gun for self-defense on impulse, they never carry. Just keep it around for home invasion protection. Since they never train it wouldn’t be a very effective tool especially if the perp found it and took it from them. Most creeps aren’t that smart and would just run at the sight of it.

    This whole episode is indeed an education for the gun control minded. First of all, buying a gun can be a hassle depending on which state they live. Secondly, if buying a gun is so bureaucratic how does they bad guy get one? Not by following the law. I hope this insight gives the citizens pause the next time a politician tries to sell another ineffective gun control program instead of promoting swift and fitting punishment for violent offenders.

  16. If we are lucky this means that the market will be flooded with decent, very affordable guns in the next 4 – 6 months when the fear and panic start to wane.

    And the government is giving me free cash to snatch some up.

    Perhaps this is a win/win after all.

    (Please read with the appropriate levels of sarcasm)

  17. Growing up in very rural South East Ky I never realized how many people had no firearm experience until I went to basic training. I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who taught me to shoot (safely) at a really young age and uncles that always took me hunting when dad couldn’t. With over 23 years in the National Guard I have met several soldiers whose only experience with firearms is the military. I made it a point to teach my children how to safely handle firearms just as I was, enrolled them in hunter safety courses and encourage others to do the same. I live in an area where I’m lucky enough to be able to have my own range behind my garage so trigger time for my family is only limited by the amount of ammo I’m willing to spare. So I am concerned with all the new gun owners across the nation who have no clue about how to safely use and secure their new weapon or when its use is justifiable. Just thankful that I don’t have to worry about my own family with firearms and when the local gun and ammo racks sold out I just smiled and said I’ll be just fine…. If only I would have bought more toilet paper.

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