Securing Our Guns In The Home – Firearms Safety And Kids
June 21, 2013
Guns aren’t toys.
It seems silly that I’d even have to write that statement. Is there a single one of you reading out there who doesn’t recognize this simple fact?
Of course, if I were writing this for youngsters I wouldn’t think it silly at all. In fact, I’d consider myself criminally remiss if I failed to teach kids to treat firearms with the utmost of respect and care. It’s not about fear of the gun, but fear of what it can do. I’d feel obliged to demonstrate proper handling, and drill those basic safety rules over and over. By the time I got done, I’d expect my small charges to be able to quote the manual right back to me.
But even with that training, I know better than to expect them to always make the best decisions. They’re kids, after all. While it’s arguable that even some adults aren’t always intellectually or emotionally mature, children have the excuse of their age… and sometimes they do things that, to us grown-ups, seem really, really stupid.
Like playing with guns.
This is why we as adults… parents, mentors, guardians… need to take special care to never allow children access to our firearms without appropriate supervision. Does this seem as self-evident as my opening line? It should, but apparently not all adults get it. Some folks apparently think their children “know better”. And too often, tragically, they find out that they were wrong.
Look, this isn’t about capitalizing on recent news stories to pile onto some grieving parents. It’s about reminding the rest of us that, “hey, it could happen to you too. And it doesn’t have to.”
I’m all for teaching kids to shoot. I’m fine with buying your six year-old a Cricket or a putting a .410 under the Christmas tree for your eight year-old. Learning to shoot can teach a lot of quality lessons, such as responsibility, discipline, and coordination. It’s a good thing. But you also have to teach them that these things aren’t toys… they’re not playthings.
The key is supervision. When the shooting is done for the day, teach the youngster to clean the firearm and put it away with the grown-up guns… preferably in a safe, or a locked closet. At the very least, store the gun with a trigger lock or cable. Don’t trust the youngster.
Kids are slaves to impulse. No matter how well a child is taught, or how well-behaved that youngster may be most of the time, they slip up. I don’t think they can help it. For whatever reason, that little sense of right and wrong gets skewed and they do something they know they shouldn’t be doing. If he sneaks into the kitchen and nabs a cookie before dinner, that’s one thing. But if he goes into the closet and grabs that slick little .22 to show off to his friends… well that’s another thing altogether. The consequences can, very literally, be life changing.
And it doesn’t have to happen.
While I firmly believe it is every gun owner’s responsibility to be a firearms safety expert and advocate, I recognize that some folks might need a little help.
In 1998, the NSSF created a program called “Project ChildSafe“. While a big part of the program is education, the organization also worked to provide free gun locks and safety brochures to parents. Originally, the project was funded with matching money from the federal government, however; as those funds dried up, the shooting sports industry chipped in to keep it alive.
With recent events and firearms safety and regulation all over the headlines, the NSSF has updated the campaign. But please, shelve your cynicism. The Project ChildSafe site is not a political podium. It’s not layered inside and out with gun rights dogma or propaganda. It is, strictly, about firearms safety… and especially about safety for our children. The site offers resources to parents, gun owners, and educators who want to learn and teach more about gun safety… and those resources are free.
Check it out. Share the link. And most importantly… just think. Kids are kids. It’s our job, as adults, to protect them.