“Freedom is not free” is Air Force Colonel Walter Hitchcock’s popular statement. Yes, freedom, including the privilege of owning a gun, isn’t free because it has heavy responsibilities. It requires walking a tight rope to balance your safety and that of those around you. Moreover, living with kids in your home tightens the balancing rope further.
Fortunately, training is the best way to go if you want to enjoy a gun-safe home you share with children. Fulfill this responsibility proactively because you’re not just keeping your child safe. You are also promoting the safety of the whole generation your child is a part of.
This guide shares gun safety facts and rules to instill in your child immediately when they start showing interest in guns. Follow it to the end to understand 14 firearm safety nuggets your child should know.
Understanding the Risks
It’s critical to understand the risks of not teaching your child gun safety on time.
- Gun abuse contributes significantly to death and injuries in the United States with nearly 40,000 people dying annually from gun-related injuries.
- Studies show that 1/3 of all American homes with guns also have kids.
- Firearm injuries are among the top four leading death causes among kids between 10 and 24 years.
- Gun-related homicide is a leading cause of child death between ages 1 and 9.
No wonder The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that eliminating guns from communities and homes is the best way of preventing gun-related injuries/deaths among minors.
It’s critical to go the proactive way of preventing death or injury by instilling proper values, establishing rules, and teaching your children facts about guns.
General Gun Safety Nuggets to Instill in Your Child
Here are the top ten values and nuggets your child should learn about guns as they grow.
1. Guns Aren’t Evil Unless Someone Abuses Them
Train your child to know that guns are not evil. The evil lies in the abuse people attach to the guns. It means that a gun can do neither good nor bad unless a person uses it that way. Therefore, never start your training on a demonizing note. Instead, instill responsible use.
2. Never Touch Guns
How do guns hurt or kill innocent people? Through physical contact! Thus, teach your child this principle: what you don’t contact can’t impact you—positively or negatively. Tell your child to avoid touching any gun for their own safety and other people’s. Kids who don’t contact or touch guns can’t injure themselves or others.
3. Flee From Insecure Gun Locations
Guns in irresponsible or malicious adults’ hands could still harm your child. So, teach your little one to stay away from any gun-carrying stranger (who isn’t a police officer). However, they should do it discreetly without scampering for safety. This way, they grow up knowing how to protect themselves from gun handlers with hidden and malicious intentions.
4. Guns Can Be Harmful
It’s good to train your child to be a responsible gun steward when they grow up. However, it’s better to show them that firearms can be dangerous. Inform your child that careless gun handling can cause severe injuries or death. Moreover, they should know that even well-meaning people can make dangerous gun mistakes. For example, a police officer firing at an armed thug could miss their target and shoot an innocent passerby.
5. Alert Adults Whenever You Spot an Abandoned or Misplaced Firearm
Train your child to alert a trusted adult about any gun they spot in the neighborhood or anywhere around them. They raise an alarm, especially if they are in locations where they don’t feel safe. Such a response could save the child’s and other people’s life.
6. Show Them the Facts
Ignorance of gun safety rules and facts is a leading cause of gun abuse among American children. All myths and misconceptions about firearms start in childhood. Thus, capitalize on this fertile learning stage to instill the facts.
Remember, the facts your child holds about guns significantly determine the acts they will engage in when handling guns. Moreover, delayed training opens the door for the media and violent movies to deceive and corrupt your child’s mind. So, act promptly before the bad guys plant seeds of violence into your child’s mind.
7. Always Treat Every Gun as if It Were Loaded
It’s highly beneficial to train your child to treat every gun as if it were loaded. This preventive measure will always alert them that anything could go wrong if they mishandle it. It also lets them approach every gun with a deserved sense of caution.
8. Guns Are Not Toys
Firearms are not toys the way the media and movies have made them look like. Most kids are exposed to environments that portray guns as toys anyone can take and aim at other people’s heads. Responsible parenthood requires you to inform your child that guns are potentially lethal tools meant for responsible adult use only.
Although BB and pellet guns are helpful tools for instilling gun safety, teach your kid to treat them as real guns. Why? These devices can injure or even kill a child if they mishandle them. A ball bullet could hurt your child if it hits their eye or other soft head parts.
9. Inform Kids That Guns Have a Purpose
Besides sharing necessary dos and don’ts with them, teach your young one that guns have defined purposes. They shouldn’t panic whenever they see people carrying guns. For example, the police carry guns to protect human life and property. Licensed gun owners use guns for sporting, hunting, or protection purposes.
Icing your safety training with this perspective gives your child a responsible approach and response. This point is critical if you keep guns in your home because it makes them understand why you own them. This way, a child grows up with a balanced view of firearms.
10. Teach Kids How to Respond to Shootings
Lastly, train your child how to respond to shootings. This point sounds harsh, but shootings are an increasing occurrence in homes, schools, streets, and even places of worship. Thus, train your kid to listen to adult instructions when caught up in shootings (if they’re around) before running and hiding for their safety.
Safe Gun Use Rules for Kids
You are abreast of what to teach your child about gun safety. However, a time comes when your child grows old enough to handle a real or BB gun. Here, they already know how to avoid danger scenes and more. Now, move on to learn more about the four most important usage rules.
11. Don’t Use a Gun Without Adult Supervision
Adult supervision is the first rule to teach your child because it’s their greatest protection against possible abuse. When your child is old enough to handle a gun, teach them never to use a gun in your absence or that of a trusted adult. This rule must remain in force irrespective of how much you taught them about firearms or the dangers of reckless usage.
12. Never Point Your Gun at Anyone
Train your child never to point a gun at anyone unless they intend to kill or injure them! This way, you instill a moral sense in them to understand that guns have grave ethical and legal implications. If they want to point a gun, let them point at a non-human target.
Moreover, they must ensure that no human, animal, or property lies behind their target. Otherwise, they could still kill or hurt an innocent person after hitting or missing a target.
13. Give Them a BB or Pellet Gun When They’re Ready
You already saw that BB and pellet guns are not per se toys because they could injure or even kill children. No wonder The Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends you only allow kids at least 16 years old to use these devices.
These guns open kids up to proper marksmanship. You can use them for training kids at least one year before allowing them to use a real gun. However, it’s still necessary to allow them to use these guns under your supervision. Why? Because they will do with a real gun what they do with pellet or BB guns! This time is opportune to assess their level of responsibility before allowing them to use a real firearm.
14. Be a Good Role Model
Your child now graduated into the “real gun” world with all the nuggets and values in the head. So, what next? You are your kid’s next “big thing” because you’re the greatest gun safety manual your child will ever read. Hence, be a good role model of everything you teach your child, especially if you own a gun.
Remember, children don’t care much about what you say the way they care about what you do. Therefore, great fatherhood requires you to practice all the safety nuggets you teach them.
Gun ownership, mixed with an opportunity to raise kids, is a wonderful privilege. However, this privilege has heavy responsibilities. Teach your child the benefits of gun safety in and outside the home. This way, you contribute to a whole generation’s and society’s overall safety.
Besides instilling values, embody the application of those values to cement everything you teach your child. The fourteen nuggets this guide shared should inspire and empower you to start acting proactively and timely. So, apply them to protect your child and those around them.
Enjoy this video for more practical insights into this critical topic.