Children and Firearms
There is a mentality of “hide the firearm and don’t tell the children”. This mentality however is a recipe for disaster. Children are curious creatures and if something is labeled “taboo”, they will want to know why and will often try to find out. Should they stumble across a firearm they will more than likely become hands on, trying to learn what they can. This is a risk no one should take. Firearms can reside safely in the same home as children with responsible gun ownership and education. You may not have firearms in your home, but your child may visit a friend or relative who does. Proper education and respect for firearms will avert a potential tragedy. We must honestly ask ourselves this, does your child, or a child you love know what to do if they happen upon a firearm?
Before we begin teaching children gun safety, we as adults need to understand what we are teaching and put it into practice. This starts with the basic rules of firearm safety.
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded at all times.
- Never muzzle anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have decided to shoot.
- Be certain of your target and what is beyond it.
Second, we need to practice safe and effective gun storage. Out of sight, out of mind will not work. Keeping a firearm unloaded and located separately from your ammunition is also not an effective plan. Your firearms should be stored and protected in a locked safe that stops access from the wrong hands yet allows you quick and efficient access should an emergency arise. I would also advise seeking qualified firearm training, even beyond your CCW training if you have had it, to further increase your own knowledge of firearms and firearm safety.
When educating children, it is paramount that we “de-mystify” guns. It is normal and natural for children to want to pretend to have a gun. In the realm of make believe, they are cowboys, police officers or in a “good guy vs bad guy” scenario. To them guns are cool, fun, and powerful. More of a toy than a tool. This type of play is natural, and I would not discourage it. It is imperative however to educate them on the difference between toys and tools or “real guns”. We need to replace their awe of firearms with absolute respect. It is not productive to drive the fear of firearms into children. Fear is paralyzing. Should they come into a dangerous situation where one is presented, fear will not enable them to make wise choices. Children should be educated on what a firearm is and how it works with the understanding of the guidelines and rules that accompany them. Once this happens the firearms are de-mystified and respected. They will understand the stark difference of what they do in imaginary play and utilize as toys in contrast to seeing a real firearm.
Throughout our schooling we did multiple tornado and fire drills. Stop drop and Roll is an ingrained mantra we never think about, however I guarantee it would come to mind instantly if we found ourselves in such a situation. Explaining just a few times is not enough. The rules of firearms need to be instilled and reiterated over and over. Just as stop, drop, and roll, eventually the rules will become a part of them. I believe this is where people become a little lost. What are the rules for children? How do we teach them on their level? Thankfully, there are wonderful resources available that can empower you with this information.
Related Video: Ammo 101 for First-Time Gun Owners – Karen Hunter
Love them or hate them, the NRA has a great program, The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program. This program reaches children ages Pre-K through 4th grade. In addition to the basic firearms rules we all should know; this program goes a bit further teaching children basic rules of what to do if the happen to come across a gun. Stop, Do not Touch, Run Away, Tell an Adult. This program has a wealth of information as well as books, shows and interactive games that all assist in making learning fun and easier to retain.
Another great source to aid in teaching your children gun safety is Julie Golob’s book, Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. Golob has done an outstanding job in presenting gun safety to children in a captivating and well understood manner. Golob states, “We talk to kids about the dangers of fire, drugs, strangers, drowning, and more—but not about guns. There are hundreds of millions of guns in the United States alone. We must talk with our children about guns and firearm safety to protect them and help prevent deaths and injuries.” Golob is a world champion professional shooter, firearms instructor, and mother. This is a wonderful option to help you start the crucial conversation of gun safety with children. In addition, Golob has resources with her book that provide additional literature for parents to learn as well as coloring pages and other activates for kids.
Knowledge is power and education is key. If we are advocates for the second amendment, we must then also be strong advocates for sensible firearm safety and educating our children. Proper education on firearms is imperative in bringing up the next generation of responsible firearm owners.