First of all, do you need firearms in order to be prepared? In the US you would probably get a resounding yes, in other countries they may see this as illegal/unnecessary/too much of a hassle. I have always owned firearm as has nearly everyone I know and I don't see them as "bad" per the media soundbites, but rather as a tool.
That said, there are many people who probably shouldn't own firearms. If someone in the home is mentally ill or suffers from depression, if there are domestic violence or anger management issues with any family members, if someone in the home is a felon, or if you simply hate guns and everything to do with them, by all means don't have guns in the house. People with guns in the home are exponentially more likely to see their firearms used for suicide and occasionally murder than they are to use them for self defense if any of the aforementioned conditions are present in the home.
For people who choose to have firearms, here are several things to consider:
- Take gun safety, intro to firearms, and personal protection classes first before you purchase a gun. This gives you a lot of information about owning firearms (at which point you may choose not to own one which is fine) and it also gives you access to a variety of firearms so you can decide which ones you like and would want to own.
- Have the proper equipment when shooting. Hearing protection and eye protection are critical; you will add to your shooting bag as you go along (targets, tool, cleaning kits, etc).
- Everyone in the family should learn about firearms, in an age appropriate manner. This includes the wife and the children even if they never intend to use guns.Knowing how to safely handle a firearm is critical for everyone who will be near one.
- Commit yourself to practicing (a lot) with your firearms. If you take one class, buy one handgun, and never use it until someone tries to break into your home 20 years later, you will have issues.
- Consider a variety of firearms for various purposes. Having a handgun, rifle, and shotgun covers most of your bases. Also consider a variety of ammunition for various purposes (they will teach you about this in class).
- If you choose to carry concealed outside of your home, learn about city/county/state/federal laws which pertain to this. City and state laws in particular can vary widely. You will also want to have a concealed carry license if this is required in your area.
- To get in some practice while having fun at the same time, consider joining a shooting league, participating in USPSA/IPSC, even getting into specialized shooting (black powder, clays, etc).
- Most importantly, figure out how you will secure your guns from kids, guests, and thieves that might break into your home. There are a variety of gun safes, quick release boxes, gun locks, etc. that you can use.
- Finally, continually expand your knowledge of firearms. Learn how to clean and care for your firearms, consider a reloading class, take advanced firearms classes if possible, etc.