For a long time, a lot of people in Chicago grew into adulthood thinking that only cops and criminals had guns. After all, we all see police with their openly-worn sidearms on a regular basis and we constantly hear from the media about the criminal misuse of firearms in news reports. If you’re not part of the gun culture, you probably don’t hear much about the many law-abiding everyday gun owners.

While most know that everyday residents may own firearms, some are intimidated or fearful of the process to become a legal gun owner. Or they may not even know who to ask or what questions to ask.

At Guns Save Life, we defend your right to defend yourself. Like it or not, a firearm is the great equalizer when it comes to self-defense.

An attacker’s size, youth and physical abilities do not matter if his intended victim has a gun. Even if the attacker has a gun, an armed victim can still fight back and win. See the inset story about a Chicago gun owner and concealed carry holder attacked by a man in an alley. When his attacker produced a gun and started shooting, the good guy produced his own gun and stopped the attack cold.

Empower yourself.
By becoming a gun owner, you too can empower yourself. With some basic training, you will gain confidence in your ability to safely handle a gun and better use it to protect yourself, your children and your family from violent criminals roaming our streets.

It starts with a FOID card.
The road to legal gun ownership in Illinois begins with a Firearm Owners ID Card. Visit the website. The “FOID Frequently Asked Questions” link there has a crash course in the facts about the FOID card, who is eligible and the application process.

In short, anyone legally in America, age 21 and over, who are not prohibited by state or federal law is eligible for a FOID card. Those under 21 may receive a FOID card with a parent or guardian sponsor who themselves are eligible for a FOID card.

For reformed felons or those individuals who have past issues (mental or substance abuse) that may have caused them to be ineligible for a FOID card, the state has an appeals process. That process is detailed at length on a link from the bottom of that FOID Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

Once you have submitted your application for a FOID card (the state charges an $11 fee to apply or renew for a 10-year license), the Illinois State Police will review the application. If everything checks out, you’ll likely have your brand new FOID card in about two to three weeks.

PRO-TIP: You don’t need a FOID card to take training. Take an NRA Basic Pistol class or something similar at a local range while you wait for that FOID card. These are affordable and chock full of good information, including safety.

A little training will also help you become a more informed consumer, so you don’t spend money for something that won’t work well for you because of its size, weight (or lack thereof), action type or other considerations.

Let’s go shopping!
Once your FOID comes in the mail, it will be time to go shopping.

Admittedly, some may be intimidated by a gun store or a range. They may think that gun stores are chock full of racist rednecks. Quite to the contrary, you will likely find gun store staff very welcoming to everyone regardless of their skin color, nation of origin, religion or lack thereof, or sexual orientation.

Interestingly, minorities and women now make over half of firearm purchasers.

Still intimidated by “gun stores?” Take a ride to a SCHEELS, Bass Pro Shop or Cabelas where you an browse with relative anonymity in a huge store.

If you have questions or want to learn more about gun ownership, or how to become a gun owner in a friendly, welcoming environment, come out to any of the Guns Save Life monthly meetings.

At any of our GSL meetings you will find enthusiastic gun owners and oftentimes more than a few experienced firearm instructors more than happy to answer questions, offer advice, and also share their experiences and recommendations with a smile.

Information on the addresses, dates and times is located on the front cover of each issue of GunNews.  You need not be a member to attend, and you don’t have to eat.