I know it varies greatly from state to state. Here in Georgia you dont have to take any classes to get a CCW, but they do a background check through the GBI. I just got mine renewed and it took almost 4 months to get back to me.
You dont have to have a permit to buy a firearm, but it makes the process alot easier.
One thing you can do that will have a multiple effect is take a NRA shooting course. It will add to your knowledge of shooting, safety and you may also get to try several firearms. That will help to add some basic knowledge about firearms for you. Being able to try several different firearms really helps.
i imagine it's not very complicated . treat every gun as if its loaded, make sure the safety is on,etc .
The basics are not complicated, however the hard part is making it all second nature without becoming complacent. It's easy to fall into the habit of "going through the motions". I've known guys to ND on simple drills - they knew exactly what they were doing in terms of skills, they just mechanically went through the motion without thinking, and of course, that one time they ended up having the hammer dropped on a round in the chamber.
You can never go wrong with NRA Basic Pistol course for starters. I took it at a range and it gave me a solid basic understanding of safety, ballistics, proper shooting stance etc... It helps if you find an instructor that can expose you to different guns and calibers. I didn't have a clue that a simple thing like a grip design can affect your over all performance. Also, I noticed that some guys with guns don't know what they're doing, at least that was my experience at the range. So training is important.
Cellular organism & Junior Sleuth - Horseshoe crab advisor to the League of Cantankerous Old Farts
I just took the NRA basic pistol course in Virginia. It was offered through the county parks and recreation department. The instructors were NRA certified and belong to a local hunt club. So I would suggest checking local hunt/gun clubs and city/county parks and rec. Your gun shop may have info as well.
It would be good if you find people that own handguns, let them show you the workings, NRA course is good. I remember when I moved to the US, some guy from church took me to a range, he had an Italian Barretta and a Browning High power 9mm, it was awesome. I did not purchase my first firearm until 3 years latter. In California there is 2 ways to get a handgun, 1 take the 35 question written test at the gun store, or watch a number of hours of video on handgun safety, I took the test, there is a little printed book to help. I am so glad I do not live in California anymore. There are a few states that don't have a second ammendment in they state constituions, California, Iowa, Marlyland, New Jersey and New York.
You can also check with your local college and see if they offer any courses in firearms. It's actually a bit easier that way (At least out where I live) because the school provides you with what you need for the course, up until the end when you will need to have your own weapon.
thanks for the advice guys ,ill check out the nra website and see about taking a course . i doubt if any of the local colleges here would offer gun classes as this is a pretty liberal area . i am aware of one gunshop not to far away that is suppose to have an indoor firing range . i suppose that would be my best bet.
Mark Sman : that event looks really cool , unfortunately i'll be working and its too late to schedule a day off.
If you're in CA, you just walk into almost any firearms store and they let you take the test and give you your HSC card if you pass it, for a fee of course. Then if you want to actually buy a gun, you need to also have proof of residency-like car insurance and utility bills, then you also need to pass the criminal background check by the state DOJ.
Another thing I suggest, go with an experienced buddy and actually "shoot" the gun you intend to buy before you buy it.