Common-Sense Strategies for Teaching Gun Safety: A Gun is No Big Deal

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I don’t know if the anti-gun trend is still fashionable or not, but when I was raising my young children, it certainly was. I decided that my two year-old son would not be playing with a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster or, for that matter, any gun. I have to admit it made me feel a little superior to take that stand, but one day my son turned a pizza crust into a small handgun, started shooting at the waitress, and I knew this was not a hill I cared to die on. I bought the Astro Blaster the next day.

Over the years, my son’s collection of toy guns accumulated and, as a family, we began making frequent trips to the shooting range when he was seven years old. Incorporating shooting sports in our everyday, ordinary lives has become, well, ordinary.

Our approach from the beginning is matter-of-fact, focused on the fundamentals of gun safety and skills, and age appropriate. I have 7 common-sense strategies for teaching gun safety that I’m going to pass along to you over the next 7 weeks.

#1   A gun is no big deal.

(Remember, this is the first of seven tips.)

One of the first lessons I wanted my kids to learn is that a gun is no big deal. It’s a tool, much like a hammer. I didn’t want them to become so attracted to the gun as a forbidden fruit that they would someday give in to temptation and endanger themselves and others.

Remember the scene in The Sixth Sense when a young teen boy says to the main character, Cole, “Wanna see my dad’s gun?”  He turns toward the bedroom and we see a huge gunshot wound in the side of his head. I never wanted that scene played out in our home, with one of our children, eager to impress a friend, shows off by handling a loaded firearm.

In fact, what we wanted was the exact opposite. We don’t want guns to be so fascinating that safety rules are quickly forgotten. After all, what is more alluring to a child? Something they’re not allowed to see and touch or something so ordinary that it’s no big deal? So, both kids have gone to shooting ranges many, many times. They have both participated in an Appleseed weekend and a summer camp held at an indoor range.

I am not precluding the possibility of either of our children doing something stupid someday while around a firearm, but if they do, it certainly won’t be because they view a gun as something exciting and glamorous. The last thing I want my kids to do is wait until we are gone from home and then seek out a hidden gun to “play with.”

5 thoughts on “Common-Sense Strategies for Teaching Gun Safety: A Gun is No Big Deal”

  1. Good point on not romanticising the weapon. It is just a tool. A fun one but a tool no the less. That takes not only the fear but the taboo out of guns

  2. If lesson #1 is: A gun is no big deal, then I think lesson #2 better be: A gun is a Really Big deal.

    Take the mystery, glamor, and emotion away, but then replace it with responsibility.

    A gun is just a tool, a tool that can kill. You have the responsibility to use it right.

    All guns are loaded.
    Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to destroy.
    Never put your finger on the trigger unless you have sighted your target and want to fire.
    Know your target, what is next to it, and behind it.

  3. It is exactly how I grew up around guns. They aren’t a big deal, and are not something to play with like a toy. Just like we wouldn’t play with a hammer or a saw as a toy as kids. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and even though we had friends as kids who asked if our parents had guns. We never aloud those kids to seek out the guns so they could, “check them out”. I remember one kids asking. I told him no way was I going to show him and he needed to go home. I told my parents and we never played with that kid again. Not because our parents told us not to, but because my brother and I didn’t feel he was smart or safe.

    I teach my kids the same way I was taught. Not a toy, a tool that is dangerous and requires a lot of skill like a saw or a drill. I do it not just because we own guns, but in case they are at a friends house who’s parents own guns and haven’t given it as much forethought as I have. When it comes to safety, I feel like just because I may be safe, doesn’t mean everyone is. Even if you don’t own guns, you need to teach your kids about them and what they can do. Someone your children knows parent’s may own a gun. Then what? Will your child know how to react? Mine have been taught and I ask the question randomly all the time. “What do we do if we are someone’s house and they ask you about a gun or show you a gun?” I have told them they are to say, “I have to go to the bathroom, leave the room and get an adult and call me.”

  4. There have been guns at home my whole life. I can’t tell you if my dad’s or grandfathers’ gun cabinets were ever locked, because we never tried to open them. We were raised to understand that guns aren’t toys but that they are a fact of life. Once we were old enough, we were taught how to handle them safely. They never had a mystique for us, because they were simply one of the many dangerous objects that the adults around us used. I raised my own kids the same way. Can’t wait for Lesson 2!

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