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by David Freestone

With the increasing interest in firearms and personal defense I've been asked to put together some thoughts on firearms that may be of some interest to readers. While not an "expert" I have a long and extensive history of firearms experience and training both from the military and law enforcement as well as competitive shooting. Of course the first aspect of firearm ownership or utilization is safety.

The following safety rules are paramount when handling firearms and must never be broken:

1. NEVER point a gun at anything that you do not intend to destroy. 2. Always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.

3.ALWAYS keep your finger off of the trigger until ready to fire the gun. It's best to always keep your trigger finger outside the trigger guard and alongside the frame of the gun until

ready to fire. 4. KNOW your target and what is behind it 5. ALWAYS wear proper eye and hearing protection. 6. ALWAYS store guns securely and out of reach of children.

Firearms are typically broken into three main groups:

1. Rifles 2. Handguns 3. Shotguns

All of these classifications may include single shot, semi auto, or manually actuated guns

Rifles of course are typically shoulder fired and frequently used for hunting, target practice, and competition, as well as potentially self defense.

Hand guns as the name implies are designed to be fired with either one or two hands. There is a growing community of people using the handgun for hunting as well as target practice, competition, and personal defense.

Shotguns are frequently used for hunting (from birds to four legged animals with slugs or buckshot) as well as trap and skeet shooting(clay pigeons) and also self defense.

Any new gun owner should seek out a competent person(s) to obtain proper training before attempting to use the firearm. This training can be from a certified instructor, formal classes, or someone else that is trustworthy and knowledgeable. Firearms can bring a lifetime of fun and protection but ALWAYS must be respected and treated within the boundaries of appropriate safety rules.

I have always found firearms to be aesthetically beautiful. The engineering and craftsmanship that goes into creating them is incredible and in my opinion makes them a work of art as well as a tool. We must always remember that as an inanimate object they can be used for good or bad depending on the person wielding them. As the old saying goes "Guns don't commit crimes ... criminals do".

Rifles may be found in many configurations such as bolt action, semi auto, pump, lever action, falling block, rolling block, trap door etc. Note that I said semi automatic as opposed to fully automatic. The anti gun folks like to refer to the AR15 for example as an automatic weapon to try and confuse it with full auto(machine guns). It is illegal for a civilian to own a fully automatic

weapon unless he or she applies for and receives a special stamp or permit, if you will, allowing that person to obtain and possess that sort of weapon. Needless to say it is an expensive and drawn out procedure to obtain the class 3 stamp and requires a very extensive background check and stringent storage requirements.

As a note of clarification fully automatic weapons will continue to fire non stop as long as the trigger is depressed as opposed to semiautomatic weapons which require a separate pull on the trigger for each round

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