This is part of a four-part blog series addressing Children and Guns. Part I – want to ensure your kid never commits a crime? Give him a gun. Part II addresses myths of gun safety – what you must know in order to truly protect your children. Part III addresses when it is safe to educate your child on firearms. Part IV explores what’s really responsible for the death of our nation’s children. If you enjoy what you read, please comment and share on your blog or Twitter. Thank you.
When Is It Safe to Educate Your Children On Guns?
A friend of mine relayed an enduring story. As a gun owner he has diligently practiced safe handling procedures with his children, even down to the youngest. One day he had occasion to take his youngest child, a 4-year-old son, to the emergency room to accompany an ill family member. The 4-year-old insisted that he get to wear his cowboy garb complete with the hat, and boots, as well as his belt, holsters, and pistols. As the two of them were walking in the entrance, a police officer was walking out. The 4-year-old cowboy was irresistible to the jovial police officer, so he couldn’t help bending down in front of the boy and making a comment, “Hey there cowboy, you gonna shoot me with those guns you’re slinging?” The boy instinctively put his hands on his guns just like a gunslinger from the Wild West days and then paused. He put his hands down and said, “I don’t point my guns at anybody.” Fortunately there are simple gun safety programs such as the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program which teach simple, memorable rules to ensure gun safety. The Eddie Eagle program has been taught on a volunteer basis to over 26,000 school systems nationwide. Civic programs have also used this program nationwide to reach over 21 million youth since 1988. This program is even formulated to begin teaching children as young as kindergarten.
So, when should you talk to your kids about guns? Consider the following:
According to federal statistics, there are guns in approximately half of all U.S. households.* So even if you do not have a firearm in your home, it’s very likely that there will be one in another home your child visits. Thus regardless of your own personal feelings about gun usage, you will be unable to ignore the reality of their presence elsewhere in your child’s life. As such, gun safety education should occur as soon as your child is likely to encounter a gun, real or fake. Another ideal barometer for education your child on gun safety is as soon as your child begins asking questions about guns. This is also indicative of an ideal time to educate. Even if such questions are relevant to toy pistols or rifles, it’s imperative that parents do not ignore or deny a child’s interest. Delaying education will only heighten any sense of mystery your child may have. Education is much more effective in gun safety than a passionate instruction for them to simply leave them alone. Be sure that any rules you establish with your children also apply to any visiting friends. This will prevent your child from being pressured into showing a gun to a friend. Be sure to discuss gun use that may be viewed on television or in movies or in video games that your child may see as well. It’s especially important in these categories because your child is likely to think that the use of a gun merely requires a “reset” button or the switch of a channel, rather than respecting the permanent nature of its use. Your education of guns should not only ensure that a gun is never used without supervision, but also that a real gun is never mistaken for a toy.
The essential rules of the Eddie Eagle program are as follows:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
To reinforce this program, there are always posters, activity books, certificates, 7 minute animated DVD program, and reward stickers which accompany the Eddie Eagle training. In many instances, an Eddie Eagle mascot is even available. Note that the Eddie Eagle program does not teach whether or not guns are right and does not promote NRA membership. No firearms are used in the program. It focuses strictly on accident prevention. (If you would like the author to present an Eddie Eagle program for your school or civic group, call us at 801-788-4133.)
Should you desire to teach your child about actual gun use, the guidelines for doing so will be determined by their physical and emotional maturity. However, research has found that the sooner a child understands the true impact of a gun, which is best achieved with supervised gun-use education, the more respectful of guns your child will be.* I recommend that parents who do want to instruct a child to shoot begin with an air soft gun for technique, then graduate to a BB gun, then to a .22 caliber. This process will assist them in physical coordination and technical learning.
*Statistics provided by the National Rifle Association’s web site
|Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
|You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.
Filed under: children and guns, firearm education, nra | Tagged: air soft gun, bb gun, castle defense, children and guns, eddie eagle program, firearm education, gun, gun safety, kellene bishop, national rifle association, nra, second amendment, statistics, women of caliber | 12 Comments »