Simply Buying a Gun Doesn’t Make You Safer!

The following is an open letter to the non-gun owning public after I read a story on CNN in which a woman accidentally shot herself in the head with a firearm she purchased in preparation for the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

The woman, identified as 26-year-old Becca Campbell, was sitting in the passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car while the two were driving through the city with the newly purchased handgun. She began to wave the gun around, exclaiming, “We’re ready for Ferguson.” Apparently, she was “joking” around.

In the process of brandishing the loaded firearm in the confined space of the automobile, she pointed it in the direction of her boyfriend, who responded by ducking which caused him to rear-end another car. The sudden crash led Campell to pull the trigger, which sent a bullet right into her head. She died instantly.

Police are still investigating the incident to ensure that the boyfriend is telling the truth, according to CNN. But supposing that it’s true, here is my message to would-be gun owners.

Dear Would-be Gun Owner,

I would never tell you not to exercise your Second Amendment right. I firmly believe that every law-abiding citizen should have the right to keep and bear arms and if you fit that bill, meaning you’re not a prohibited person: felon, minor, domestic abuser, drug addict, mental defective, then by all means go out and get a gun.

But if you do, please be mindful of the fact that simply purchasing a firearm does not make you any safer! No. It does not. You need to learn how to safely and responsibly use that firearm before it becomes an asset to your self-defense posture.

See, contrary to what people may tell you, shooting is not a hobby, it’s a discipline. It takes great patience, a serious attention to detail and an entire lifetime to master. Yes, it’s also a lot of fun, but you can never let your guard down, you can never be too cautious and you can never forget to practice the fundamental rules of firearm safety:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Becoming a gun owner is a lifestyle change. If you’re not prepared to take it seriously, if you’re not prepared to take the time to learn and practice and learn more and practice more and learn even more and practice even more, and on and on for the rest of your life, it might be best to consider an alternative means to defend yourself because if you buy a gun and you don’t put the time and energy into learning how to responsibly use that tool, you risk not only killing yourself, like that poor woman did, but also those who are closest to you.

I don’t want to scare you out of your purchase, but I also want you to think about what’s on the line before you take the plunge.


S.H. Blannelberry


GunsAmerica readers, anything I’m missing that you’d like to add to this open letter to would-be gun owners?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Russ December 2, 2014, 4:36 pm

    I’m not trying to troll you but all people are not the same, and have different levels of intelligence and attitudes.
    So all don’t share the exact opinion as you do, or need to follow the rules exactly how you lay them out.
    Their safe and efficient journey into the firearms world or 2 A rights may go off in totally different directions that will have them apply themselves very differently. i.e.; Competition, Hunting, Military, Self defense, Law enforcement.
    That being said, I am glad you reminded some people about the importance of being cautious and safe.

    In the past you and I disagree on many articles, mostly gun choices and their applications, but who doesn’t.
    I want to remind you, It’s not trolling, it’s just our difference of opinions that gets me replying to you.

    So here we go; I do think it can be a hobby, and yes you can be too cautious.

    I love firearms.
    I like to gun smith, collect, refinish, design, invent and clean them.
    I learn history, read mags, watch shows and movies about them.
    (participate in blogs/forums)
    I shoot targets for fun and train to get better at operating them for self defense/offence, hunting, sniping and trick shots.
    I’m a lifetime member of the NRA-ILA and have a CCW permit.
    I’m going to call that a “Hobby”,

    I’m also going to disagree with you on the “All guns are loaded ” Rule.
    I’ll say you should positively know if your firearms are loaded or not, and with what, and how many, at all times.
    I call that being smart and not ever assuming or pretending.

    Anyway the article is a good reminder for some, but the subject is sort of demeaning to me in that it makes gun enthusiast look out of control or stupid. (just what anti gunners want) Because I see the Ferguson situation as nothing more than the enemies of the USA causing terror, civil unrest, and dividing the people on race and law enforcement.
    Those enemies are Obama, Holder, Sharpton, and the Liberal/Socialist/Democratic/Bias Media.

    • Joe McHugh December 3, 2014, 12:47 pm

      Russ, good post but I think that you missed a reason that the Founding Fathers inscribed the Second Amendment into the Bill of Rights. You mentioned self defense/offense, hunting, sniping, and trick shots. What do you mean by self offense? And what is sniping in regard to a civilian?
      The Founders didn’t limit the right to keep and bear arms for hunting and trick shots. They wanted the people to have a way to defend their inherent rights from anyone who might decide to trespass on them. The contributor “Magnum629” seems to be somewhat confused about this matter.
      George Washington justified the Second Amendment best when he said “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
      The Second Amendment is all about providing the individual with a means to resist tyranny, all other aspects about firearm ownership are secondary to that purpose.
      Magnum629, should research what the dictators and tyrants think about private ownership of firearms. He would find that these “leaders” fear any citizen who owns a gun. This is the reason that the politicians, especially the Democrat ones, never stop proposing “crime fighting” measures for the “safety” of the people. But the real reason that obama and his minions infringe on the right to keep and bear arms is that they well understand that one cannot abuse the individual rights of an armed populace.

      • Russ December 4, 2014, 3:58 am

        Hi Joe, I agree with your opinion.
        Part of what you mentioned was government and resisting tyranny.
        That’s where the civilian thing comes in, and also ties in with self offence and sniping.
        Self Offence just means I wont stay in a defensive position. It’s how I think and how I work and play, so….
        If having to defend yourself against greater numbers, I would go on the offence and also try to keep them far off without being detected myself.
        But when I mention those things at this time, I’m really just having fun and getting better at Planning, training & shooting.
        One of my biggest thrills is hitting melons or Arizona tea jugs filled with colored water out at 5 to 700 yards in the desert with 7.62 x 54 R – 23″ Dragunov. Using my iron sights and Kentucky windage I can usually hit it in 2 shots.

    • Richismo December 4, 2014, 7:23 pm

      I think that “all guns are loaded” (“agal”) is a good default belief. I consider agal to be a reasonable presumption, meaning, a policy default position subject to being disproved by evidence such as a thorough inspection, clearing the chamber and ammo supply and continuous secure custody of the piece. Just a matter of respect: for the power of guns; for others, including their civil right not to be harmed by sloppy behaviors; and for one’s self, to not be a negligent clown in a world of consequences.

    • Doctor Who January 2, 2018, 3:28 pm

      ” I’m a lifetime member of the NRA-ILA and have a CCW permit.
      I’m going to call that a “Hobby”,

      I’m also going to disagree with you on the “All guns are loaded ” Rule.
      I’ll say you should positively know if your firearms are loaded or not, and with what, and how many, at all times.
      I call that being smart and not ever assuming or pretending.

      NRA Life Member, not Lifetime Member.
      You should know this.

      Also, standard gun safety rule is, treat all guns as loaded, even when they are not loaded, as standard practice, not to ever point or sweep a muzzle of a firearm in anyone’s direction, loaded or unloaded, you still practice safe gun handling.

      The author simply quoted a safe gun handling guide.
      A firearms refresher course never hurts, as an Instructor, I am due for one.

  • Robert December 2, 2014, 11:08 am

    Martin, you are wrong. This was a tragic happening no matter how you look at it. As a Christian I believe people can be redeemed from previous lifestyles. That same principle applies to new owners of guns. I think any gun shop should get together with any local instructors and offer a discounted price for “newbies” not acquainted with all the safety rules of gun ownership and get them properly trained. Now to Magnum 629. I was around guns since an early teenager and am 81 now. I was not taught good gun handling rules and nearly shot myself in the face with a 20 gauge shotgun one time. However I did observe good gun safety practices as I aged and got wiser. The pastor of our church lost his brother a year ago during a time they were trying to teach a 7 year old how to shoot clays. As he was loading the clay launch machine the young lad somehow got his finger into the trigger guard and shot the man. It is a shame someone was not watching the boy more closely. Now he will have to live with that tragedy all his life. I personally learned more about handling weapons (pistols) when I was taking my training for getting my armed security guard license in Oklahoma. We were taught by a former Army military police person. I learned the 4 basic elements of gun safety and have never forgotten them. Even to this day I never put my finger in on the trigger unless I am going to shoot. I want my wife to learn to shoot her new S&W light .38 cal. pistol but I will not teach her. I will pay a qualified NRA instructor to do that. It will take away the “family” element and give her a good classroom and shooting range experience. It only costs $40 and worth the investment to make her a good shooter. Finally, a lot of new gun owners are wary of the gun knowing it can be dangerous. I told my wife she needs to handle the gun (unloaded) and get her hands familiar to the shape and weight of it. Learn what it is for much as you would any kitchen utensil but realizing that death can result from mishandling it. A gun is nothing more than a tool to use. How you learn to use it and do use it is up to you. By the way, if the military is so much more equipped than we are and could easily overcome us why have they not cleaned up Afghanistan yet whose fighters were armed only with AK-47s and RPG launchers? Because it is the “fire” in the belly that will make you superior. Our fire is the taste of Liberty and Freedom and our army is much larger by millions of potential freedom fighters. Good luck to you both and God bless our nation with freedom and wisdom.

    • Russ December 2, 2014, 1:41 pm

      You have lots of ideas Robert.
      Martin isn’t wrong, he’s just not a pussified American and exercises his freedom of speech.
      He may be a bit hardened, but who knows why, and I like that about a person.

      I bet all of us at one time or another made a stupid mistake, but are too embarrassed to admit it.

      Finger on the trigger, should be the #1 rule to remember IMO. Nothing happens until that happens

      How about if you sold firearms or where buying one you included a membership to the NRA-IRA ?

      The armed forces will not be unprepared, and may also not be Americans for that matter. ( U. N.)
      Check your State militia for what you can do to protect life and liberty.

  • Magnum629 December 2, 2014, 9:54 am

    This was a most unfortunate accident like all other gun accidents. Worse is to ridicule someone’s accidental death as an act of natural selection which could happen to anyone at anytime, admittedly under less freakish circumstances. Gun accidents occur by the thousands each year. Are these victims all idiots, mental defectives, and lunatics? What about the expert gun instructor recently shot in the head by that 10-year old girl, or the countless recreational hunters unintentionally shot by their hunting buddies?

    The author of this article speaks to a very serious problem in this country, not only among new, inexperienced gun owners, but experienced gun owners as well. This problem is not endemic to any particular geographical location or ethnic group in America.

    Better hope the National Guard doesn’t shoot straight when they come for the rest of us — making no distinction between those exercising their First Amendment Rights (which is just as important, if not more important than the Second Amendment) and those committing violent crimes under the guise of civil protest.

    The Patriot Act has already voided major constitutional aspects of the First, Fourth, Fifth,and Sixth Amendments. It matters none whether it was Bush/Cheney who first watered down these rights or Obama who has merely solidified these “new rules”. Frankly, the Second Amendment is not nearly as important to our overseers as many seem to believe. Why? Because their weaponry trumps, many times over, anything any of us might have stashed away in our private arsenal. Game. Set. Match.

    • Russ December 2, 2014, 1:20 pm

      Your both right.

  • Martin B November 26, 2014, 4:00 pm

    That Darwin is one ruthless bastard! Another idiot removed from the gene pool. Maybe Ferguson is on one of those ley lines that suck in mental defectives and lunatics. Current evidence would support this. This is a good reason to not walk but to RUN as far as possible from that troubled burg. All the best to the poor folk who reside there and haven’t participated in all the craziness. To those who have gone there to create mayhem, may the National Guard shoot straight. This may be Obama’s Ground Zero.

    • Russ December 2, 2014, 1:16 pm

      + 1 for Martin B.

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