Would your child know what to do if they came across a firearm?
While American citizens are afforded the inalienable right to own firearms, a right that citizens of MANY other countries are deprived of, that right also comes with the responsibility of practicing firearm safety. Children of all ages are usually very curious, impulsive, and emotional by nature. It is your responsibility as a gun owner to safely operate, maintain, and store your firearm. It is also, by law, your responsibility as a gun owner to make sure your firearm is not accessible to those that shouldn’t have access to it.
Education is the most important factor when it comes to gun safety! By educating children, you’re removing the mystery that can surround firearms. By removing the mystery, you’ve in turn removed the curiosity that could lead to firearm accidents. Not to mention, children have to actually know the safety rules in order to practice and implement them. Simply telling them not to touch a firearm is never enough. Seriously, how many times were you told as a child not to do or touch something, but you rolled your eyes and did it anyways. Do you really expect your kid(s) to do any differently?
When should you teach your kids about guns? When it comes to firearms, age doesn’t matter nearly as much mental maturity does. Are they mentally mature enough to comprehend the potential danger a firearm can present? Are they able to listen to and follow instructions? Even if you feel like it’s too early, and they’re not physically or mental ready to learn how to shoot, you can still introduce them to the safety rules of handling a firearm.
How do you ingrain firearm safety into children? First, start with talking to them, this is the most important step! Teach them the rules of gun safety. Introduce your child(ren) to some of your firearms. Do it in a safe setting, and allow them to touch and hold your firearms. As with any educational situation, encourage them to ask questions. The more questions they ask, the more the mystery behind firearms will disappear.
Once the rules for proper handling are learned, you can move on to developing safe practices and safety habits through the repetition of the standard safety procedures. Also, if you’re not comfortable with letting your child(ren) use a firearm yet, a BB gun is a great alternative until they’re ready to move up to a .22LR.
So, what are the rules you should be teaching your children, you ask?
- Teach them to always treat every firearm they find as though it is loaded.
- Teach them to never touch a firearm unless a parent is present to supervise.
* If they don’t touch it, they’re unlikely to have an accidental discharge.
- Teach them to never point a firearm at anyone or anything they’re not willing to destroy.
- Teach them that the safest measure, if they come across a firearm, is to walk away and leave the room.
*If they leave the room, they’re less likely to be involved in an accidental discharge or a negligent discharge that could cost their life or the life of another.
- Teach them that if they feel there’s an unsafe situation to find an adult and let them know.
There will always be circumstances out of you control, such as your children coming across a firearm while visiting, or playing at a friend, relative, or neighbor’s home. If you have any doubts about the safety of your child(ren) while visiting someone else’s home, invite their kids to your home instead. If you have a teen or someone else that might be suicidal present in your home, maybe consider not storing a firearm at home, as it could be used as a quick solution.
Firearms are only dangerous if they’re used in such a way, and the two biggest causes of firearm accidents are:
- Ignorance- they simply don’t know the rules of safe gun handling
- Carelessness- they do know the rules, they just don’t care to apply them
If you teach your child(ren) the rules of safety when it comes to firearms, they will be one step closer to avoiding dangerous situations involving firearms, BUT the most important step you can take as a parent is to make sure you store your firearms safely and properly. There’s no excuse to not have them stored in a safe manner with the many options available today. What is a safe manner for storage?
- Trigger and cable locks- devices that, when installed on the firearm, will prevent the firearm from being operated until the device is deactivated or removed.
- A plastic, fabric, or metal gun case that you can fit a padlock through the zippers or the carry handle to keep it closed.
- A gun safe, lock box or other safe that is designed for or can safely be used to store your firearm, and that can only be unlocked by key, combination, biometrics, or other similar methods.
And remember, when it comes to firearm storage, just because something may not be safe for you, doesn’t mean it’s not safe for the next person, your needs may be different than theirs.