Firearms are a sensitive topic in today’s mainstream media. However, what they don’t tell you about is just how much the average gun owner cares about firearm safety and takes it seriously. And for most of these gun owners, their keen sense of safety was imparted on them from a very young age.
Importance of Teaching Kids From a Young Age
The solution to firearm safety is not to shelter kids and keep them away from guns until they’re adults. Rather, the best thing you can do is teach them how to properly handle them from a young age so that it becomes a non-issue.
Teaching children the basic tenets of gun safety from a young age totally normalizes firearms. It removes the curiosity (which can be dangerous) and neutralizes the temptation that the child may otherwise have to explore it on their own.
If you have firearms in the home and/or regularly use them for hunting or target practice, it’s important that you teach your child about the proper rules of gun safety from a fairly young age.
5 Tips for Teaching Gun Safety
While every child is different, the rules of firearm safety remain the same across the board. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Begin With Awareness or Interest
As a parent, you typically want the child to make the first move. What that means is you want to wait until they show awareness or interest in firearms before starting the process of educating them. This typically happens when a child sees a firearm in a movie, sees you cleaning your gun, or asks you about the shirt you’re wearing. This will usually happen between the ages of 4 and 7.
A child’s initial exposure to firearms should be very casual and hands-off. Depending on the child’s age, it might look like getting them a BB gun or airsoft gun. If you go this route, the key is to treat the gun like a real gun – not a toy. This means you teach them how to handle it, load it, store it, and even clean it. To them, it’s the real thing.
- Start Small
As your child gets comfortable with their “gun” and proves to you that they’re ready, you can gradually expose them to the real deal. This may look like inviting them with you to the shooting range (but not letting them shoot). Or it could be letting them hold a firearm in their hands (unloaded). Small steps are the key.
- Teach Gun Maintenance
One of the best ways to teach a child about gun safety is by showing them how to maintain a gun. When you take apart a gun and show them all the parts, you show a child that there’s really no mystery or intrigue. It’s a machine that’s put together with parts (just like anything else). This is also another great opportunity to reinforce safety and proper use.
- Teach the Four Cardinal Rules of Safety
As you should already know, there are four “cardinal rules” of gun safety. They are as follows:
- Cardinal Rule #1: Treat all firearms as if they’re loaded.
- Cardinal Rule #2: Never allow the muzzle of a firearm to point at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
- Cardinal Rule #3: Never put your finger near the trigger until ready to fire.
- Cardinal Rule #4: Always be 100% sure of your target and what is behind it.
Repeat these four rules every single time a firearm is in their presence. By emphasizing these four rules over and over again, you imprint the idea of safety onto their brain.
- Practice Makes Perfect
There eventually comes a time when you have to teach your children how to shoot a gun. And once they begin shooting, it’s important that you take them to a range on a regular basis. Practice is the best safety lesson. The more comfortable and accurate your child is with a firearm, the less of a danger they are to themselves and others.
Be a Proactive Parent You never want to force a child to learn about gun safety, but you also don’t want to ignore their curiosity. By being a more proactive parent in this area, you can keep your child safe and help set them up for a lifetime of success.