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I've decided to purchase a handgun for protection....what should I do?

First...Learn the safety rules for firearms handling and safe storage included in this FAQ section.

Do this before visiting the gun stores, gun shows, or even the range with a friend. You need not be apprehensive or afraid of firearms, but you should have a great respect for the damage this "tool" is capable of.....GREAT BODILY HARM or DEATH. A firearm is only a tool and you are responsible for safe and knowledgeable use.

Second...Educate yourself! Even if you "have been around guns all your life"...we highly recommend you consider taking the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course. This course will educate you on the basics of firearm safety, nomenclature, operation, marksmanship fundamentals, ammunition and maintenance. The instructors will start at the beginning and lead you through the different aspects of the many types and uses of different firearms and ammunition. We will expose you to many different makes, models, calibers and explain the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed purchasing decision. You must "learn to shoot" - (marksmanship) before you can learn to "gun fight" - (defensive shooting). This formal instruction lays the crucial foundation to becoming a proficient and knowledgeable firearms owner.

Third...Know the law! The NC Concealed Carry Handgun course teaches responsible and law abiding citizens where you can go and what you can do legally to carry and defend yourself with a handgun in North Carolina. A decision to purchase a firearm does not just affect you, but everyone that you come into contact with everyday. You must know the law as it pertains to storage of your firearm, transporting, open carry and concealed carry. You absolutely need a good understanding of the use of deadly force. Even a justified self-defense shooting WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES. Learn the four step draw process, on & off the body holster options, shooting from ready retention, shooting while moving, using cover/concealment and the pros and cons of those choices.

Finally...Dedicate yourself to becoming proficient with your firearm and learn mental/emotional preparedness. Strongly consider continuing your defensive education by attending the NRA Personal Protection In The Home courses (In and Outside of The Home). Your decision to purchase should not be based on paranoia, but awareness of the dangers of modern day life. Formal education, practice and fore-thought are the keys to avoidance of dangerous situations and defensive effectiveness when needed to protect life and prevent great bodily harm.