As our family geared up for the gender reveal I gathered supplies needed for the process. One of the things that I needed was my break-action .410. As I leaned the gun in the corner by the door a family member who was over got a little nervous about having guns around our kids.
Although we don’t leave firearm’s accessible for our children, I am relatively confident that even if we did they would not touch them. I’m not certain (that’s why they stay locked up) but anytime they are out all three of our children’s interest is tempered by their caution. They also have had the opportunity to see, handle, and ask questions which reduces a lot of the interest.
Being a gun owner I want our children to understand gun safety.
There are rules that are important to know as children get older. There are common gun rules like:
- Treat every gun like it’s loaded
- Don’t put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- Never aim at anything you don’t intend to shoot
But It’s important, especially with having guns around younger children, to have other conversations before we get to the point of putting a gun in their hands.
I believe children that understand the dangers of firearms but are also exposed to them, are far safer, and far less likely to be hurt. A few years ago Waterloo Police Department (in Iowa) teamed up with a local TV station to do an experiment with 8 children. They placed the children in a room with a ton of toys and an unloaded gun. Almost instantly the children not only found the firearm, but they also started playing with it. One child was even pointing it at his playmates. But in this scary scenario, there were two children who never touched the gun, both raised in homes that owned guns and taught gun safety.
I’m not an expert in firearm safety. My intention is not to set the standard in your home, but Stef and I have three things we talk about with our children every time they are exposed to firearms. We hope these will keep our kids safe when they are around guns.
If you ever find a gun tell an adult right away.
In the experiment I mentioned earlier, the biggest failure was that even the children raised in a home with firearms didn’t tell adults what was found. In a real-life situation that could be a matter of life or death. So our children have heard over and over about the importance of them telling us if they, or their friends, ever find a gun.
Never touch a gun without permission.
This rule complements “always assume it’s loaded.” By reminding our kids about the danger of firearms and the need for adults to supervise and assist as they learn about them. But there is also opportunity in the rule. We don’t forbid them from touching guns. We tell them they need permission. This means that if they desire to look at or touch a firearm they have the opportunity to do so.
This rule flows right into the last.
If you want to touch a gun ask, we will make sure it’s safe and look at it with you.
Now our children know they just need to ask. Once they receive permission we check that it’s unloaded and they are able to look at and hold the firearm.
Ava’s getting old enough now that she has more strength. I not only check that the gun is unloaded myself, but I also make her check. For my handguns, it takes a lot for her to pull back the slide but she is able.
I’m a strong believer that my children, being around guns, are far safer and better educated than a child who has no exposure. It’s probably two or three times a year that they have the opportunity to see, touch, and learn about firearms but it’s a priority for me.
Have you set any rules in your home to keep everyone safe when guns are around kids? What are they? Comment below.