Why Firearm Safety Is Important for Our Youth
Gun control is always a hot topic debate. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t have an opinion about it. Then, you throw our children into this discussion and people feel even more passionate.
For all gun owners, gun safety and storage are our highest priorities. Kids must be taught gun safety at an early age. If you have guns in your home, raising children to understand the seriousness and power of guns is the most important lesson you can teach them. If you do not own guns, you still need to have the conversation with your kids because they will, at some point, be exposed.
I’ve done quite a bit of research as I wrote this post, and I have to be honest; most statistics show that having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of accidents. It is a fact. As much as I wanted to find statistics that show that when a child grows up in a home with firearms, the chance of accidents decreases. I wanted to find statistics that show when a child grows up around firearms and learn gun safety early on, their propensity to crime decreases. I couldn’t find these numbers.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed states that enacted safe storage laws saw a decline in accidental firearm deaths among children. So, although I can’t find statistics that when a child is taught gun safety the likeliness of accidents decreases, but, we can all safely say that when firearms are stored correctly, we can protect our children from accidents.
To me, it all boils down to education. Not matter what the topic is, education is always key- obesity, sex, you name it- when kids (and their parents) are ignorant or refuse to talk about it, curiosity can kill the cat.
But, as a gun owner and mom of two young children, I believe that there are ways to teach children gun safety. As a parent, or grandparent, or aunt or uncle, safe storage is priority, then gun safety is second.
Destigmatize guns. Guns are fascinating. They are scary. They are awesome. Think of young boys and guns. Oh, my goodness! My son was, and still is, obsessed! Pow pow. He uses any stick he can find as a “shooter gun.” Allow your children to see your guns. Let them hold it (empty obviously!).
Let them watch you handle your gun. Maybe this is loading it up in your truck on a way to a hunting trip. Once they are old enough or when they show interest, let them watch you clean it. As they get more mature, let them help clean it.
Teach them the different parts of a gun: the magazine, chamber, trigger, barrel, safety, etc. Which part of the gun do you check to make sure it is empty and that the safety is on?
Show them the power of a firearm. Take them to the range with you to see and hear a gun in action. I’ve been hunting who knows how many times, and the sound of a pop still rattles my core! Shoot a watermelon and let them have a visual as to the power of even small guns.
Teach safe handling. From day one, begin teaching your children never to point a gun (or stick or whatever they use) at anyone. Always treat it as if loaded. You always point the gun upward or at the ground. Never point the gun at a person. The safety is key! We do safety checks constantly when we have our guns out. No one may have even touched their gun in hours and we’ll still do “safety checks” where everyone double checks to make sure their safety is on.
Tell them what to do if they do encounter a gun. It’s kind of like “Stop. Drop. And roll.” If you find a gun, stop, move away, don’t touch and tell an adult.