Maybe you remember the story of “cops and robbers” that went horribly wrong a few years back. An eight-year-old child in North Carolina used his dad’s rifle—not knowing it was loaded—and shot his friend. It wasn’t fatal, thankfully, but enough to haunt everyone who read it.
Now, the father of that child should not have had a loaded rifle where his son could reach it so easily. You know what else he should have done? Taught his kid about gun safety.
The National Safety Council did a study on kids and guns. They found that firearms account for the lowest cause of injury among youth. In fatalities, that number has dropped 74% over the last 20 years.
So while this is moving in the right direction, there is still work to do. Every parent who buys a firearm needs to instill a healthy understanding in their child of what guns are capable of, so that “cops and robbers” story never happens again. Here’s how:
Take away the mystery surrounding them
Remember as a kid, when your parents said something wasn’t allowed, how badly you wanted to play with it? Heck, even some adults experience this! It’s only natural to be curious about something that’s forbidden.
So take away the mystery. Under your supervision, let your child hold a gun (unloaded!). Teach them how to see if the chamber is empty. After all, the longer you keep it from them, the more the intrigue grows.
Take your children to a gun range
Movies love using violence. Your child is probably watching movies where people are being shot left and right. This gives them an unrealistic understanding of what a gun can do.
When you take your kids to the gun range, they can see the real damage they cause. Let them see the ripped targets after being hit by bullets. For something a little more intense, let them to see the bloody holes in the animal you shot hunting. It gives a very real understanding of the power a gun has
Give them a BB gun
These are like training wheels for firearms. It’s very important to make sure your child treats their BB gun like a real one – they carry and store it safely, keep the muzzle down, never point it at a person, etc.
When you’re confident they’re treating it with respect, let them shoot off a few BBs. They’ll love it!
Then maybe you’ll feel they’re ready for a .22, or something light. Spend time first at the firing range, then maybe out in the woods. Keep an eye on how your child handles the gun. Do they swing it around after shooting? Do they point it at another person or at their feet? These are signs that more education may be needed and bad habits are forming.
Most importantly, you need to lead by example. Your words and actions will determine how your child understands and respects guns.
Gun safety is the most important thing with buying a firearm. This is way more important when there are kids involved. Make sure you know best practices for owning firearms – if you have any questions at all, call our office.