Guide to Gun Ownership

A guide to gun ownership, including how to safely load, clean and practice with a firearm, including choosing shells, gun alternatives, suggested shot sizes for hunting.

| July/August 1986

Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 67  

"The Homestead Firearm "first appeared in the January/February 1981 issue of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS, prefaced with an editor's note saying, in part, that " . . . this has always been a magazine devoted to presenting alternatives rather than to preaching. That's why we can run articles praising vegetarian living and stories describing how to raise meat animals in the same issue . . . . If you are confirmed in your choice never to own a firearm, be assured that MOTHER EARTH NEWS respects your decision. On the other hand, if you think you should own a gun, we respect that decision too . . . and suggest you read what Gary Kent — experienced shooter and regular contributor to outdoor and firearm-enthusiast publications — has to say about gun ownership."  

Today — five years later — our feelings are exactly the same. 

Guide to Gun Ownership

When a family moves from the city or suburbs to the country, its members will quickly recognize the need to buy, swap for, or otherwise acquire tools that they aren't necessarily familiar with. Some of the items are simple . . . others are complicated, powerful, and perhaps intimidating. In either case, the family must first choose which tools are truly necessary, and then learn to use them safely. Many country dwellers soon find that one such necessary implement is a firearm.

Tools, of course, are devices that help men and women do work. And a gun is a tool that's uniquely suited to three specific jobs: protecting people, protecting crops and livestock, and putting food on the table.

Gun Ownership In the Home

The decision to keep a gun for home protection should not be made lightly. Before making up your mind, you'll have to face squarely the idea that — if you do keep a gun for self-defense — you might someday (although the likelihood is very small) actually have to shoot someone. And if you think the matter through and come to the conclusion that you couldn't fire at another human being, even if he or she were threatening your life or the lives of your family, then don't keep a gun for protection. Bluffing with an unloaded firearm, or with one you don't intend to use, could very well cause a tragedy where one might not otherwise have occurred.

4/3/2011 7:34:23 PM

I just read the online reprint of Gary Kent's article titled "Homestead Firearm". Having been a lifetime owner and shooter of such guns, I can tell you that he isn't too far off in many statements, but there are a couple of assertions he makes that are far off the mark. First off, his recomendation of a double barrelled gun. They are simple and reliable, but expensive. Consider that the most expensive part of ANY gun is the barrel, and Mr Kent wants you to buy two of those? Look instead to a pump action shotgun. They are reliable, hold usually 4 shells minimum, and cost a fraction of what a double will run you. Second is his recomendation to use #6 or 7-1/2 shot for home defense. Doing such a thing will get you hurt, badly. It never happened to me, but I know people who have been hit by this type of load. It just stung them and got them REAL mad. Use #2 or less, preferably #0 buckshot. It really won't overpenetrate that badly. Unless you live in an apartment building, this shouldn't be an issue. Whatever you do, buy the highest quality you can afford, you won't be sorry for that.

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