They get training. A gun is a lethal weapon, for cryin’ out loud! That’s a hell of a responsibility in your hands. You need training to be even a responsible hairdresser – so yeah, you need training to know what you’re doing with a gun. Yes, I know that many people manage to defend themselves without any training, but we shouldn’t confuse good luck with good practice. We also don’t know how many untrained people would have been better off in a bad situation – or after it – with training. I’m also keenly aware of the difference between those things that we should do, and those that we should make people do. But just ’cause it’s a right to own a gun don’t mean you’re not an irresponsible turd for not getting training with it.
They know the law. My jar just drops every time I meet an otherwise responsible gun owner who has not had any training in the law surrounding the use of lethal force. The ability to employ lethal force it what gun ownership is all about! At least read Massad Ayoob’s or Andrew Branca’s books…and then spend some quality time ingraining and visualizing their lessons. Without this ingrained knowledge otherwise very good, very responsible people regularly get badly jammed up by making the wrong decision when they use their gun. Seen it first hand.
They are unconsciously obsessive about safety. Unconsciously! A responsible person doesn’t have to think about which way the muzzle is pointed; they don’t have to make an effort to keep their finger off the trigger – these things just happen automatically because they have been practiced so much. And of course, they don’t do any of the more inane things that stupid gun handlers do all too often. I don’t care how skilled someone is at arms – if they aren’t safe all the time, they’re just another goober.
They don’t mix alcohol and guns. You don’t mix alcohol and driving for a reason. Ditto guns and booze. Legal, appropriate, tactically correct gun use is something that depends on fine reflexes and 100% sound judgement. Alcohol – biologically, medically – diminishes both. And God forbid you use your gun defensively when there’s even a little of the stuff in your blood; your local DA will have a field day, and you will not come out intact.
They are discreet. I have written about the jackassery of open carry here and here. But beyond that, responsible gun owners are low key about their gun. They don’t have AR-15 stickers on their vehicles, they don’t parade about in obviously tactical clothing, they don’t wear t-shirts that advertise a gun business, and so on. Now, I have no problem with testosterone – we could use more of it. I am dismayed by the emasculation of our culture and the effeminacy* of our male youth. But actual men and competent women are low key: they are inconspicuous in their appearance**, quiet in their demeanor, and polite in their interactions.
* Not out of political correctness, but from not wanting to be misconstrued, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation, which I see as an orthogonal axis from the masculine-feminine axis.
** As a straight male, I guess I’d relax the prohibition on conspicuous dress for some women. 🙂