It is a dangerous world out there.
Children need to be prepared. It is up to parents and other caring adults to teach kids about bad things that can happen on busy streets, with hot stoves and electrical outlets; on ATVs, bicycles and skateboards; with kitchen knives, with pills that look like candy, or liquid, in bottles under the sink, that looks like fruit juice.
Kids need to know they can really hurt themselves when they climb tall trees, scale fences or ride horses. They have to learn they can badly injure someone, even accidentally kill them, with things like lawn darts, sling shots, baseball bats, matches — or guns.
Most families teach children how to swim, not to ever play with matches and how to be careful around other dangerous items. In this nation of gun owners, many parents unfortunately make the mistake of hiding firearms from their children instead of teaching kids gun safety.
It is human nature to be curious about what has been forbidden. I have heard so many parents tell me they lock their guns away to prevent their kids from playing with them. When I ask them what their child is going to do when they come across a gun at a neighbor’s house, usually the parent looks shocked – because they have never thought of that possibility. I ask, “What is your curious daughter going to do when one of her friends wants to show off her father’s new gun?”
Gun accidents, like any other kind of accident, can be prevented by educating kids early.
- Teach children the word NO. When you say the word, mean it. As it has always been, children not trained to be obedient are significantly more prone to accidents.
- When you take your guns out to practice, which you should if you want to be properly prepared to use them if it becomes necessary to protect yourself and your family, take your children with you. Explain about bullets and what they do to the things they hit.
- Show your kids how to load and unload your gun. Make certain they know how to absolutely make sure the gun is unloaded.
- Teach them about the safety mechanism, and about keeping their finger away from the trigger unless they are prepared to shoot.
- Explain that they should NEVER point a gun at people because the gun might, just might, be loaded, even though they think it isn’t.
- Tell them that if a friend starts to play with a gun, to leave immediately and tell an adult.
- Describe serious accidents that have happened when children have played with guns unsupervised, and explain that people can die if guns, just like many other things, are used unsafely.
- Start your kids off with BB guns, which allow children to see the projectile coming out of the barrel. My daughters, my grandson and granddaughter all had BB guns as soon as they could cock them. At the gun range, shake up a can of soda and roll it out there for the kids to shoot. Use paper plates as targets — or set up empty cartridges you might find laying around the range. These are great BB-gun targets set in a row on a piece of wood. You can easily make an indoor target too, one that will trap BBs for re-use, using a cardboard box, a small piece of carpet and a piece of wood.
- Show children how to properly clean and store guns, how to clean up the gun range out of respect for the next person – and talk about the idiots who shoot signs and do other acts of vandalism with guns or anything else.
- And let’s not forget blanks: Blank ammunition which is a primed casing filled with gun powder, either crimped or covered with a wad, is dangerous up to 15 feet. The gun sport of Fast Draw uses blanks to break balloon targets eight feet away. When the gun is fired, unburned powder comes out with enough force to break a balloon. The gun sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting challenges the horse and rider to race through a designated course while firing at and breaking balloon targets several feet away with blank ammunition. In the past, people have injured or killed themselves believing that blanks were not dangerous. Don’t ever point a gun at anyone at anytime, even if loaded with blanks.
- Teach your kids about guns, gun safety and how to shoot. Have a great time together at the gun range. When you’re at home, discuss other things they need to know to be safe, such as why they should never use a hair dryer near the bathtub! For additional information about teaching gun safety, contact the National Rifle Association.
– Bob Munden