Congrats – You Bought a Gun

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this post is to be construed as legal advice. As always, you should do your own research, and consult an attorney experienced in firearms matters if you have any questions or concerns.


When you’ve owned guns for any length of time, you will eventually buy or sell one as a private sale, not through a gun store or other Federal Firearms License holder. I’ve done both, and I thought I would share what I’ve done to document the transaction.

There’s a great post over on Urban Armed that gives a link to bills of sale for private sales of guns. Go take a look, and download a copy for your own use.

(At this point, re-read the Disclaimer above.)


Every time I transfer a gun to or from someone in a private transaction, I document it with a bill of sale. Even though I live in a state that doesn’t require registration or similar reporting of gun transfers, this will protect me in several ways.

First, should the gun ever be lost or stolen, I will have proof that I owned it, for a police report and insurance claim.

Second, I retain bills of sale for guns I no longer own, forever, so I can prove what happened to them.

In the case of a gift, I still prepare a bill of sale, and write “for just consideration” for the price.

When I buy a gun from someone in a private sale, I bring my own bill of sale, in case the seller doesn’t have one.

When I sell a gun, I prepare two copies of the bill of sale. I also make a photocopy of the buyer’s driver’s licence and Georgia Weapons Licence, as applicable. I won’t sell a gun to someone who doesn’t have a GWL, or who isn’t a family member whose background is well known to me. It’s my way of knowing they are not prohibited from owning a gun.

When I borrow a gun to take to the range, I execute a bill of sale, just like a gift. There are lots of reasons for this – traffic stop, accident, civil emergency, theft, fire – and I need to have proof that I had the gun in my possession. This is the only time I destroy a bill of sale, after I return a gun I borrowed.


I keep an inventory of the guns I own. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but a printed notebook or piece of paper would work just as well. I keep my inventory backed up on a flash drive, as well as with my normal home computer backup files.

This inventory includes gun make, model, caliber, and serial number, as well as details about when and where I bought it. Using a spreadsheet lets me sort the inventory however I choose.


I keep backups of everything. The original bills of sale are kept in a bag* in my fire safe. PDF copies of the bills of sale are on my flash drive, along with my inventory. That way, if I ever have to evacuate our home, I grab the bag out of the fire safe, and go.


So, Dear Reader, what am I leaving out? What are some best practices I should consider?


* The bag in the safe also contains important family documents like social security cards, home ownership documents, car titles, our marriage certificate, our baptismal certificates, and school records.



I’ve recently become aware that I was violating one of Alton Brown’s rules: No Unitaskers. And, I’m happy to say, I have remedied that.

Let me explain.

I’ve carried a flashlight as part of my every day carry for over 20 years. I’m a chemical engineer, and I’ve found them handy more than once, for looking at equipment in buildings or under things. Even in an office setting, you would be surprised how many times you would need to check something plugged into the computer under your desk, or hidden behind the ceiling panels overhead.

I’ve usually carried a small, cheap flashlight like the blue one on the right in the picture above. I bought that one as part of a “2 for $2.99” pack at the local hardware store. In fact, there are five more just like it in various places around the house.

But, I was reading somewhere after the recent theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and the writer reminded us that, even in a Gun-Free Victim Zone, a flashlight with high output can be shined in an attacker’s eyes, temporarily blinding them and allowing us to escape.

I then realized that the flashlight I carried wouldn’t disorient a mouse. It was a unitasker – a device that served only one task. Except for a fire extinguisher, I want no unitaskers.

Now, I admit I have been aware of the vast array of “Tactical” flashlights on the market, but that part of my brain imply ignored them, since, duh, I already had a flashlight. But, after considering the lessons to be learned from the Aurora shooting, I decided to get a new flashlight that could deliver enough light to be a serious defensive tool.

I settled on the flashlight on the left above, the Smith & Wesson branded Galaxy Elite model. It delivers 120 lumens from a CREE LED bulb, uses AA batteries, and has a twist-on, or momentary push button control. I used it in the dark back yard last night, and the difference between it and the old light was astonishing.

I know there are several brands of tactical flashlight out there, and I’m sure I will stir up the usual discussion. I wish I could say I researched the subject exhaustively, but in truth I bought the flashlight that gave me the most lumens for the  best price, with a design I thought fit how I carry.


So, now, what other unitaskers am I harboring . . . . . ?

Dealing With The Front Door – The Family Discussion

At dinner last night my wife and son and I had a serious talk about the recent shooting incident in Lake County, Florida, and how we would handle anyone coming to the door after dark.

This was a good refresher for my son, who is 15. I remember being 15, and my attention span then was even worse than it is now. But he agreed that he wouldn’t open the door for anyone he didn’t know. He also agreed that he would call 911 if there were police at the door. He’s heard enough about home invasions, I guess.

We talked about the scenarios and how to deal with them. I guess I should not be surprised but we were all in agreement.

My favorite reply from my son was when we discussed what to do if the 911 dispatcher told him they had no record of police coming to our house.

“I’ll just tell them to go ahead and send some real police, and after they deal with these losers, I’ll be in the back bedroom. Behind the bed. With a friend from Austria.”

Be Prepared, Part 10 – Dealing With The Front Door

“It’s just a bizarre set of circumstances. The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office, you’re going to get shot.”
– Lt. John Herrell, Lake County FL Sheriff’s Department

At 1:30 AM on July 16, 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott did what a lot of people might do. When there was a loud banging on the front door of his apartment in Lake County, Florida, he grabbed a pistol and answered the door.
Deputies were looking for an attempted murder suspect, and found his motorcycle parked in front of Scott’s apartment. So, they knocked on his door without announcing they were police.
Robb Allen at Sharp As A Marble probably said it best when he referred to “lethal levels of Fail.” There were so many mistakes made on both sides of this that the lessons should be self-evident. But I wanted to go through them, and talk about how I addressed this with my family last night, so that you might be prepared.
Everyone in your household needs to know the plan, and needs to follow it. You have fire drills at your house – you need to practice this, too.
Only the eldest person home answers the front door after dark. If my kids are home alone, they don’t answer the door. Period. If they are seen and called to by someone outside, they can deal with them at that point. But they don’t open the door to someone they don’t know.
If someone knocks on my door late at night, we don’t open the door. It’s that simple.
I will go to the door with a pistol either holstered or concealed behind my back, and with a phone. We first find out who it is, by turning on the front porch light, and looking out the front window at the porch. (If your house isn’t set up that way, you need to have some way to see those people.)
If they are people we know, and they don’t sound under duress, and there are no others with them that we don’t know, only then would we open the door, and deal with the situation.
If they are people we know, but they sound under duress, we find out why and assess the situation from there. If they have trouble and need my help, I would decide which way to go.
If they are not someone I know, I will call 911 and tell them help is on the way, but I’m not opening the door. Not if it’s raining, or winter, or the baby is sick. It sounds cruel, but I would rather that, than for you to read about me the next day, killing by home invaders.
If they claim to be the police, I would tell them I am calling 911, and do so. I would tell the dispatcher that the police are here, and ask why. If they have legitimate reason to be there, I would put my pistol away, and open the door, and follow their instructions.
It is vital that at no time would I show a gun or other weapon to someone at the door. First, if they are police, they will shoot me.  If they aren’t police, they could call 911 themselves and report me for assault. Yes, I could present a positive defense under Georgia’s Castle Law, but that would still involve being arrested, hiring a lawyer, and lots of money.
Of course, if someone forces their way through my door, I will have a split second decision to make. If they are police, I need to follow their instructions completely if I want to live through this. For me, this is vital. I have quite a smartass disposition, and a more than a little bit of a Don’t Tread On Me attitude. The key here, though, in every situation, is to de-escalate, so that, hopefully, no one has to get hurt. And certainly, things turn out better for us than they did in Lake County.

Pistol Choices

I’ve recently read several posts from other bloggers about their choices of Every Day Carry (EDC) pistols, and how they arrived at those choices. This got me thinking about my own thought processes, what I’ve chosen, and why.


Anyone who’s read this blog more than once knows that I own Glocks. While I sometimes play the devil’s advocate to others about their gun choices, I’m not going to fault anyone for choosing the guns they own.

I can, though, tell you why I own my Glocks.

G21, G17, G19

I bought my first Glock 17, Bruce, in 1992. At the time, Glock was about the only affordable “high capacity” handgun on the market. I picked 9mm for the same reason I have them now – availability and cost of ammo. It helps that modern 9mm defensive ammo is almost ballistically comparable to .45ACP. But that’s another posting.

I got my other two Glocks, a G21SF and a G19, by way of my membership in the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation. The G21SF I bought at the Law Enforcement price, and the G19 I won in a GSSF match. So my choices of gun came about as much by serendipity as it did by conscious choice. 

My next choice in a handgun will probably be a Glock, because I and my family already know how to run them, and I already have spare parts, magazines, holsters, and the like.

Now, if a similar circumstance arose for me to acquire a similar striker fired polymer gun, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. With enough practice and training, I and my family would learn to run them just as well.

Having said that, I don’t think I would ever get a 1911 as a home defense or personal carry gun. There are several reasons for that.

In my home, besides me, are my wife, son , and daughter. Each of them has shot and trained with these guns. They know how they work, and they are comfortable shooting them. In an emergency, I would not hesitate to assign them each a Glock, and they would not hesitate to carry it and shoot it if need be.

However, the weight, reliability, and complexity of the 1911 precludes my family from ever being able to rely on them. This can best be illustrated by relating a story I heard from someone who is a frequent guest on a lot of the podcasts I listen to, who claimed that the 1911 was a superior gun precisely because it was so complicated that, if he lost it or it were taken away, an assailant would not be able to operate it. I thought that was one of the most ridiculous statements I had ever heard, especially since I am more likely to need to enlist someone’s assistance than I am to lose a gun to an assailant.

So, here is the current batting order, as it were:

Batting first, as EDC, is my Glock 21SF. About 90 percent of the time I carry it on a belt holster.

Batting second, in the top shelf of my pistol safe, is my Glock 17. It also doubles as my competition gun.

Batting third, on the bottom shelf of my pistol safe, is my Glock 19. 

Now, when the Glock 17 goes off to compete, the G19 pinch hits, and moves to the top shelf of the safe, with a G17 magazine installed. 

And, in the times when circumstances preclude my carrying the G21, the G19  goes in a IWB holster under a tee shirt or polo. The G21 goes on the bottom shelf of the safe.

Note how this is arranged: there’s always a 9mm Glock on the top shelf of the safe, and there are always loaded spare G17 magazines on top of the safe with a flashlight. There are also loaded G17 magazines in other places around the house.

In case of zombie apocalypse, I would take the G21, my wife would take the G17, and either my son or daughter would take the G19. In that event, I would also take the Mosssberg 500. We would also move the the lower half of the lineup, and break out the SKS, Ruger 10/22, and Browning Buck Mark. And, in the extreme case that the Mongols are coming over the hill and we need to go long, there is also a Mosin Nagant.


COMING: How the guns we have figure into a matrix of preparedness – who is involved and what are we up against.

Be Prepared, Part 9 – Stay Prepared

So, three years ago you did your part and put together a set of emergency supplies that you could carry in your car. Then comes the big snow, and you’re stuck. So, you get out the bag, and you find those batteries are dead, and the emergency food is gone, because your kids snacked on it a few times without telling you. Bummer.

A few months ago I wrote about my Get Home Bag that I carry with me in the car. Like just about everything in life, even a Get Home Bag takes maintenance. So, with winter approaching, I took some time to unpack the bag and make sure the perishable items were fresh.

You can see the contents of my bag above. I listed them in the previous post, and all was there except the granola bars, which I had commandeered for the most recent USPSA match.

I ended up replacing the water bottles, but everything else was good. I also shook out the blanket and bedroll and re-folded them, and I will wash and dry the towel, too.

I also checked out the compass (it was fine), and tried the lighter (it lit fine). Another change I made was replacing the two AA batteries with three AAA batteries, since I changed my every day carry flashlight to one that takes AAA.

For sure, repacking it all was a pain. I should have taken some pictures of what went where. But, in the end, it all went back.

You put good effort into planning. Take a few minutes now, and periodically, to make sure your work wasn’t in vain.

A New Blog – Balloon Goes Up

I noted a tremor in the force, and found a neat new blog, Balloon Goes Up. I was especially impressed with his post on his Get Home Bag. In it he relates an interesting rule of thumb called the 10 C’s of Survivability. I need to review my plans against them.

This reminds me that it’s getting close to winter, and it’s time to review, refresh, and renew my Get Home Bag. It also occurs to me that I should take pictures of the stuff that goes in my bag.