As a new mom, I was wary of having guns in the household. My husband was a lifetime member of the NRA and quite the gun enthusiast but I had never even fired a single shot. Never even used a BB gun.
My kids, on the other hand, know all about guns and gun safety. They’ve attended rifle summer camp, an Appleseed Project weekend, and dozens of trips to both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. I mentioned in Tip #1, they’ve learned that a firearm is nothing more than a tool. they’ve also learned something just as vital:
A gun is a huge deal
A gun can take a life. That’s a huge deal. The biggest, really, and it makes owning a firearm a serious responsibility. Our kids have been taught to never put their finger on the trigger until they are ready to shoot. They know to always keep the barrel of the gun pointed in a safe direction, which is never at another person, and guns remain unloaded until we are actually at the range.
An important part of their firearms education has been that safety always comes first. When we talk with them about guns, we always use a serious tone and convey a no-nonsense attitude. Guns are never playthings. They aren’t for showing off.
A gun can take a life.
Reality vs. Glamor
A challenge parents face in this process is helping kids understand the difference between the glorified gunfights they see on TV and in the movies and what a real gun can do to a person. When a person is shot, there is no, “Take two!” The injured person doesn’t pop up so they can appear in the next scene. Gunshot injuries are real, painful, and can cause massive injuries and death.
But guns, in all their glory, are a foundational piece of thousands of movies and TV shows. Ironically, many of the actors and actresses who make anti-gun statements and commercials owe their fame and fortune to the very thing they claim to detest!
Raising kids is hard enough, but it certainly doesn’t help when there’s a steady flow of exciting shoot ’em up shows and movies. Video games? Same thing.
How well do you know your kid?
Teaching kids to respect firearms and follow gun safety rules is just the starting point. Perhaps limiting the amount of time spent watching violent entertainment and playing violent video games is another step to take.
Above all, though, is knowing your own kid. Some kids are more likely to obey safety rules than others. Some just can’t resist trying to outrun a train or take the cinnamon challenge or see how many shots they can drink without passing out.
In one household, a loaded gun left in a dresser drawer will remain untouched and most likely forgotten, while in another, a child can’t resist touching it and playing with it.
Regardless of which side of the fence your child falls, compliant and accepting of boundaries versus contrary and always pushing the limits, you know him or her best. Their age and level of maturity are additional factors to consider.
Err on the side of gun safety
We have never worried about our kids and having guns in our home. They’ve learned how to safely handle them, there’s no glamor attached to them, and, frankly, my 15-year-old daughter finds them boring.
Even so, we have taken steps on the side of caution where our guns are concerned because it makes sense. More on that topic coming with Tip #3, using layers of safety.
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3 thoughts on “Common Sense Strategies for Teaching Gun Safety: Guns Are a Big Deal”
I started teaching my kids firearms safety at the aged 3. We started with Nerf guns and progressed to my real firearms. They were introduced to them at an age appropriate level and given multiple opportunities to ask questions. It wasn’t and cannot be a one time thing. It has to be an ongoing family culture of safety and respect every day. My children know that anytime they want they can ask me to see or hold any of my guns and ask any questions. They are 6 & 7 now and when they ask to see one of my guns the first thing they do is tell me how to make sure it is safe / clear. I hold and operate it to clear it and they tell me the steps.
I am comfortable that they have a strong knowledge of firearms safety and respect, but they are still kids. If it’s not on me, they are all locked in a safe.
Kyle, one of the tips I have coming up is, “Never underestimate the stupid factor.” My kids are well trained as well, plus they are now 12 and 15 years old. However! Kids are kids. Teenagers are teenagers. Training and knowledge aside, they can still do stupid things, and that includes messing around with guns inappropriately. Heck, I know an adult who should have known better and accidentally shot himself in the head! So I guess adults are just as likely to do stupid things!
Do NOT put your booger hook on the bang switch unless your firearm is pointing downrange.
Hat Tip to Joe Conley, Walbridge OH.