The Newlywed Nephew

Some time ago:
A good lad, raised in a liberal family with limited experience in shooting.
The young fellow is about to get married and calls his old uncle to meet over coffee at a Borders.

I think I should get a gun to protect my wife, he says, telling me that since I was a deputy and served as an Army officer, that I should be the one in the family to ask for advice.

I gave him my thoughts, congratulated him for taking the matter of security seriously offered suggestions and followed up on my suggestions, so this is all ancient History, BUT I’m interested in learning what would you tell your young nephew—imaginary for the sake of discussion, or not— today, if posed with the same question?


My two cents. I would tell my son (or relative) he needs to get training before he gets a firearm. I am a new shooter and have been in training now since November. I do not yet own my own weapon. I paid for one-on-one private instruction. Not cheap, but in my mind, education is the best investment you can make. One-on-one focuses on you and only you.

A good instructor can identify your weaknesses and strengths. A really good instructor will push you to do better and hold off too many ‘atta-boys’. That’s the kind of training I want to start with. From there, go into more real-life scenarios (i.e. moving while shooting, shooting with the weak hand if wounded in the dominant hand, et…)

I also purchased a SIRT with three magazines. Perfect for training between sessions or when ill and unable to attend training. I am just now getting over an illness after two-months and have been steadily training with my SIRT. Highly recommended.

So, in the end, I am not jumping onboard to purchase a firearm I can use in a self-defense situation, in particular, when I have hand arthritis to deal with. I like the 380EZ (been training mostly with this weapon), but also want to try out more 9mm handguns without the grip-safety and with low recoil. I will probably end up purchasing both the 380 and a 9mm, and then go into carbine training.

Continue training both on and off the range. Never stop training, building awareness skills, working on improving. Never, ever stop training, even when you think you don’t need more. You do and you will.


Kudos to your nephew for realizing the need and reaching out to you.

The obvious starting point is intended use (e.g. carry vs home defense only). Are we talking handgun or is this including rifle/shotgun also? I typically guide people towards handgun because even if I’m at home all day, I’ll have a handgun with me everywhere I go, whereas I won’t ever cruise around the house/property with a long gun on me. I prefer to have something with me at all times rather than running to some point in the house in order to be able to defend myself.

I usually then start the handgun conversation with how they function (e.g. revolvers vs DA/SA vs SAO, thumb/grip safeties, etc). I have a variety so I’ve gone over safety and functionality with snap caps before even going to the range. I then reiterate what we already covered during live fire at the range, always starting the first shot in the condition the handgun was intended to be carried. If it’s a DA/SA, that first round is fired DA repeatedly.

I also take advantage of ranges that have a variety of handgun rentals. Sometimes people have already been told by someone, “Oh, you really need to get a ____!!!” So it’s good if they can rent one and compare it with other handguns to see what works for them. If they don’t enjoy shooting it, they’re not going to practice with it. I think my sister is a good example of this. She got a LOT of “advice” from people on what she should get because she’s a woman. I took her to a range with rentals and she didn’t like any of those suggestions and ended up getting a CZ75 SP01. Several years later, she still loves it and loves going to the range. People need to try a variety and take all the advice they get with a grain of salt.

And of course there needs to be a commitment to training; instructor led as well as range time, as well as dry practice at home. You need to build the muscle memory and make sure you’re building good habits right from the start. I went several years without instructor led training and it took me several more years to fix various problems after my first instructor led training (not safety related, but a big impact on trigger manipulation and accuracy). Every time you practice, you’re either reinforcing good habits or bad habits. Get instructor led training early on and make sure you’re reinforcing good habits.


I agree with you. I know a guy who is a sheriffs deputy. He was top shooter in his class at the academy. Instructor told him he was a blank slate and he didn’t have to fix all of his problems.

On the other hand, I shot thousands of rounds at the range without any official training. Then I took some classes and still performed very well. So I think it’s a case by case basis.

To the OP, I’d take him to the range and do what I can to teach him everything I known. Let him shoot me guns and decide what he wants. Agree on the emphasis above on training-either credentialed instructors or someone like yourself. Maybe gift him a subscription to concealed carry magazine.


I went to my first class as a blank slate and did very well. But have since taken other mostly online/dvd classes after countless thousands of rounds of practice. I always try to go into a new training format with the blank slate attitude. I try it the new instructor’s way to see if their way is better than the way I have been doing it. At the end of the day I usually end up mixing together some pieces of the new method with my old way of doing things. It’s an evolutionary process. Just trying to figure out what works best for me and get a little bit better every time I pick up a firearm.


I didn’t own a gun until I was in my 50s. There is a lot of bad information out there that until one has the responsibility of owning a firearm one believes.


Lots of good stuff, however it’s important to remember that a newlywed likely doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, nor a lot of free time. Add to that, safely securing any firearm, and of course his bride’s concerns to deal with.
Nothing insurmountable, but still important considerations.
Initially, the firearm was to be for HD and later, CC if he could get a permit which was unlikely in his town.

Still, I’m glad the CA laws were different back when I had to council my nephew—I don’t know how I could help him in this post-Newsom reality.


Simple. You are embarking on a life path that requires a man’s protection of what he has perceived as valuable. Your mission is to act accordingly.


I would say, “great! How about we go to the range this weekend so you can learn a little more about guns and form an informed decision?”


What’s the background check wait time for going to a CA gun range? :grinning:


Just went trough it and it was only 2 weeks to get into the class with indoor range time. There is many outdoor ranges available and open to the public at a reasonable cost so, no wait time. I have checked several indoor ones in different areas of the state and almost all have public use time.


Some where on this very board I posted the story of my son, a very Left Thinker.
He called one day and said he and his wife had just got back from town, while there they had seen things posted around town that said Hunt Down the Liberals and Kill Them, or something to that effect. He thought it might be time to get a firearm but had little experience. I suggested he call his friend that was an Army Ranger Veteran. They got together, tried several different tools. He even took them to the store and helped walk them through the purchasing process. Since then, my son has actually got to be pretty good with a 1911.


Just finished mine in one of the few red/purple counties. From initial application to issuance- 14 months and about $700. Not including firearms, ammo, range time, USCCA membership. For a two year permission slip. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


Hah! Not too far off. In fact, I almost took someone to an indoor range I’ve used a few times in the past but then changed my mind because it’s been more than a year since I’ve been there so I’d have to fill out the 20 pages they require all over again. I go to the range to shoot; not to read a novel.

Instead, I’m a member at an outdoor range that doesn’t have firearm rentals & sales so I don’t have all the added paperwork. I think it’s $20 to bring a guest and you get a brief, “You know the rules. You’re responsible for everything he does on the range.”


How can anybody NOT be good with a 1911? JMB designed it with the perfect grip angle so you’ve got perfect sight alignment and sight picture every time, even with your eyes closed. And you can’t find a better trigger. You’ve got all the fundamentals of marksmanship built right into the firearm. :grinning: