I was 8 years old, running amok in my uncle’s neighborhood, when I found an abandoned gun in the grass. It wasn’t a play, toy, or water gun. It was a real gun. In fact, it was a gun that had been abandoned due to a crime. This wasn’t a bad neighborhood, a bad town, a bad place. But the reality of our world is that guns exist, and ignoring them won’t make them go away.
I was raised in a military family. I have been shooting guns since I was young, but more importantly, I was raised in a family that respected the power of guns. I wouldn’t ever say that I was comfortable around them – more so that I had a healthy fear of them, and an understanding of what safety meant in relation to something that could be dangerous.
This post isn’t to incite a battle over gun control – it’s a post to help you teach your children gun safety. Because it doesn’t matter whether you own them, love them, or hate them – there will come a time that knowing gun safety could save your child’s life.
My methodology in life is that ignoring something is never the answer. Ignoring guns will not make your child safe. And even though we are a gun-owning family, I’ve always said the biggest threat to gun advocates isn’t a legislator – it’s an irresponsible gun owner. It’s time that we take responsibility for safety into our own hands, and empower our children with the knowledge they need to remain safe. Because, at the end of the day, you can ask your playmate’s parents if they have a locked (or insecure) gun in their house, but that doesn’t prevent all mishaps. And lastly, your child has been exposed to guns, whether you have one in the home or not. Whether they’ve seen it on TV, played “cowboys” at school, or fired a nerf gun, they have some idea of the purpose. But here’s the biggest difference, they have no idea of the consequence.
These steps are intended to help your child recognize a dangerous situation, not how to shoot safely at a gun range.
Here are the rules:
- Treat a gun as if it is ALWAYS loaded. This means you never point a gun at anyone. Ever.
- If you see a gun, don’t touch it. Tell an adult.
And here’s how to talk to (and practice with) your child regarding gun safety:
Step 1: Educate. The “ignore it because it’ll never happen to me” mentality is not one that can exist in the case of guns (actually, I’d argue this mentality shouldn’t exist ever – like, birth control, sexual abuse, etc…). Even if you don’t own a gun, you should educate your child about guns. I would approach the concept with respect, not “instill-the-fear-of-God”.
Step 2: Practice. We have a three-year old in the house. An inquisitive, ask-me-why-1340-times-a-day-year-old. And we do have guns in the house. Our guns are always secure and locked away. But again, we aren’t relying on other gun owners for our child’s safety. So, how do we teach our child what to do should they see a gun? We use a fake gun, and we leave it out – in controlled occurrences. Because we’ve drilled rule #2 into our daughter, when she finds that fake gun, she immediately runs to let us know. This rule was also instilled in me – which is why, when I was 8 years old, I immediately ran to my parents, who then called the police.
This post isn’t meant to scare you, alright, it is a little. Nevermind, it is. This should scare the living shit out of you – especially if you haven’t had this conversation with your child. Because at the end of the day, if your child came across a gun, would they know what to do or would they play with it?