Another week passes, and another child is dead due to parental negligence. Notice how I didn't say a kid died because of a gun? What's infuriating, is the simple fact that this boy's death could have been prevented had his parents educated this 13 year old kid about guns. Just so we are crystal clear, I don't blame this child, or any kid for that matter, for his parent's irresponsibility.
All it takes is some time and dedication to make sure your kid doesn't accidentally kill himself, a friend, or you with your gun. I'm not stopping there, though. Even if you DO NOT own a gun, but do have kids who may play over a friend's house where there are firearms, you should teach him/her about guns to at least some degree.
This means that every child in the country should learn about firearms. How? Read on …
A lesson from the Marines:
I learned a lot more in Marine Basic Training than the stuff I was supposed to learn–like, ya know, becoming one of America's warriors. I was also taught that the best way to teach someone something, is to use repetition.
Literally, pounding knowledge into someone over, and over again until they grasp what you're teaching (probably without the pounding part, for your kids).
Much in the same way, teaching children about firearms is not a one and done deal. Kids have a habit of forgetting things moments after you teach them something. Gun safety is something that you need to drill into someone before it sticks.
When I was in Marine basic training, the basic rules of firearms safety were drilled into us on a daily basis–sometimes multiple times per day, because it was that important.
That's not all we learned about our rifles, though. We also learned what the various parts of our M16s were, and we couldn't shoot them until we demonstrated proficiency with the knowledge portion of our firearms training, such as the safety rules, range rules, and various parts of the rifle itself.
Dare I say that the way you teach your child about guns should closely resemble that of the way we were taught in the Marines? I'm not saying to yell at your kids. In all honesty, our rifle training was the one time during basic training where we didn't get constantly yelled at. It was back in 1999 for me, but if I remember correctly it was the least stressful time during my luxurious stay in platoon 1110, with Senior Drill Instructor SSGT Stephens.
The point, is that you can tell a kid till you're blue in the face to keep his finger straight and off the trigger until he's ready to fire. But if the kid can't identify what a trigger is, he won't know what not to touch.
You can tell him not to let his muzzle cover anything he's not willing to destroy, but what the heck is a muzzle anyway? Catch my drift?
How I teach my kids about guns:
Because I have three kids currently aged 4, 7, and 9 years old I have been teaching them about guns. My 9 year old girl has a Henry .22 Youth Rifle. She's learned the various parts, but I still quiz her on them. Trust me when I say that the last thing I want is for her to be at the range with me, flagging everyone with her rifle. If she didn't know what the muzzle of a firearm was, she could be dangerous with it.
*As a side note, you don't have to run out and buy your kid a gun. You can use a BB gun to teach safety, the parts of the gun, and shooting fundamentals.
The first thing I did, was print out a diagram of the rifle itself (similar to the one seen above, but utilizing my chicken scratch handwriting). It was nothing more than a picture of the rifle with all the various parts pointed out. Once she got them down, and was able to pass my quizzing both on paper and on the rifle itself, I taught her the basic rules for firearms safety.
Again, I can't stress this enough, it's hard to teach someone firearms safety if they don't know the various parts of the gun.
However, it wasn't until after she demonstrated proficiency with the safety rules that she gets to go the range with a loaded firearm. She's quizzed before each range session, and randomly throughout the week. If she ever fails the quiz, she doesn't go to the range.
Gun safety for my younger kids:
My other two children are not mature enough to handle a firearm just yet, but I still teach them in ways that they can understand. They know what the guns look like, and what to do if they ever see one, sort of like the NRA's Eddie Eagle program teaches (linked to, below).
I will purposefully leave an unloaded gun (with the action left open) where one of my kids can find it to see if they react appropriately. They know that when they see a gun they are to come find an adult, and not touch it. Then, once they bring me to the gun, while it's still fresh in their head, and an emotional response has been generated, which helps them remember, I try to explain why what they did was good or bad, and why it's important.
If you don't have the time to make sure that your child is properly educated about guns, find someone who is, or locate one of the many programs designed to help teach kids about firearms and safety. There are plenty of them out there. Here is a short list of the programs that can help you teach your kids about guns:
- Eddie Eagle (NRA)
- Project Child Safe (NSSF)
- Hunter Education (Hunter-Ed) (Not Available in all 50 states) (Available for 16+ y/o kids)
- Project Appleseed (Better for kids with firearm knowledge already, who want to learn more)
Still, nothing replaces the job of the parent to make sure kids are properly educated and safe with firearms. Furthermore, education needs to continue, long after the classroom is over to keep it fresh in their minds. If you don't use a skill, you'll eventually lose it.
What's your take on the matter? How do you teach your children about guns? If there is anything you'd like to add, let us know in the comments below, and then make sure you like our Facebook page so you make sure you don't miss anything we've got going on.
Here's the source article, about the boy who died this past weekend.