I have seen so many heartbreaking stories about kids and teenagers accidentally shooting themselves or others.
This all boils down to one thing: they were not taught about guns and gun safety.
My entire life, I have been around guns—hunting, conceal carry, competitions, turkey shoots etc. My late step-father was a retired police officer; most of the men I’ve dated are either in the military or have been discharged. But, most importantly—my entire life I was taught that guns (even the pop guns) were not toys. However, I was taught to not be afraid of them. Growing up on a farm, a gun appears to ward off the occasional snake or sick armadillo.
Every time a gun was pulled out, I heard the same 4 rules:
1) The gun is always loaded
2) never point it at something you don’t want to destroy
3) keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target
4) know your target and what is beyond it.
Now, in all the tragic stories about children getting a hold of a pistol, almost all of the kids were not taught about guns—they were curious and interested, but left unsupervised with an insecure weapon. The first mistake was leaving the weapon where anyone could access it. The second was not teaching the kids about gun safety. I have spoken with many people—some of them were raised around guns, some were not, but the common statement was that they were taught that guns are tools and shouldn’t be “messed with”.
My nephew is two. He has seen me take my gun off and secure it—but the first time he went over to where I keep it (and my other 6 pistols) he got in trouble. He even tried to play with the drawers on the cabinet (which, by the way, has ammunition in them), he also got in trouble. He is not old enough for me to teach him gun safety, yet. But he already knows to not mess with, play around, climb on, etc. the place I keep my guns. As soon as he is old enough to understand, I will be teaching him gun safety, and so will his parents.
When I have the opportunity, I talk with the teenagers I know—because the majority of them have parents who conceal carry—and remind them of gun safety, answer all their questions, and even show them (with their parents’ permission) my pistols. The parents and I even take them shooting with us—it is not something they should miss out on. It’s an opportunity to keep those kids from getting curious and trying things on their own.
Once, when I was about 16, I went to a birthday party with my friends. The adults went to go get more party food and us kids were left unsupervised. Somehow, one of my idiot friends decided it was cool to pull out the family shotgun. I immediately asked them to put it away and not to get it out again. Sure, I was called a buzz kill and everyone was tense for a bit, but I wasn’t going to let my friends do anything stupid.
I knew what to do that because my parents instilled gun safety into me since before I can remember. I’m glad for it. I don’t even want to think about what could’ve happened had I let my friends play around with the shotgun.
At what age should you start teaching your kids gun safety?