Teaching Youth About Firearm Safety
Author’s Disclaimer: By no means is this article an attempt to tell you how to raise your kids around guns! My only goal is to encourage you to educate yourselves and others, and to spread the message of gun safety.
Parents, this article is especially for you.
Firearms are potentially dangerous tools in the hands of someone who doesn’t know anything about them. Yet with proper training, firearms can provide lifelong enjoyment and protection. However, firearm owners must take careful precautions when considering those oh-so-curious and impressionable children.
In January of 2014, the 20/20 special, Young Guns, informed viewers that there are firearms in approximately 1 out of every 3 households in America. This fact alone makes firearm education extremely important for gun owners and non-gun owners alike. It makes it even more important to teach our children about what they should do if they ever encounter a gun.
Firearm safety education has been a goal of many firearm-related organizations for decades. Take, for example, the National Rifle Association’s Eddie the Eagle GunSafe© Program. This incredible resource is a gun accident prevention program that works with schools, camps and parents to help educate youngsters about firearm safety. The program provides resources that help parents (gun owners and non-gun owners alike) broach the subject with the kids in a way that they’ll remember.
So, how do you approach this topic with kids? No differently than you would discuss, say, fire prevention. It’s common to teach kids about fire prevention, swimming pool safety, and even household cleaning agents and potential poisoning; so why isn’t teaching firearm safety a top priority for parents as well? Firearms are tools that can be used properly for good and enjoyment, or improperly for bad and misery. This is the message that you should share with your children.
To start the conversation, educator and founder of 2 Million Bullets, John Annoni, encourages parents to address the subject head on, but with sincerity.
"Parents, we get it! This is a difficult subject to bring up with your children. You just have to start by believing that your children deserve safety, and that with education comes the power to be safe. Give your children the power to be safe," says Annoni. "Be genuine about your approach. Let them know that no rational human being wants to see them or a friend hurt or injured by anything, including firearms. Setting the stage with your children will make this conversation not only easier to have, but also more impactful."
Remember the 20/20 statistic? 1 out of every 3 homes in America has guns in it. That’s far more homes than have swimming pools, yet everyone teaches kids what to do around water. As parents, it’s unrealistic to think that your children will never encounter a swimming pool; the same goes for a gun. It’s safe to assume that your children will encounter firearms at some point in their lives, be it in your home or a friend’s home.
Here are the 4 simple steps every child should know if they encounter a gun:
- Stop and tell anyone with you to stop.
- Do not touch the gun.
- Leave the area.
- Immediately tell a responsible adult.
These 4 quick and simple steps have saved countless lives since the program’s inception. In fact, the National Shooting Sports Association recently released the 2015 Firearms-related Injury Statistics, which proves that as firearm safety education and safe storage programs have increased, the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities has decreased.
In the last twenty years (1993-2013), the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities involving children 14 years of age and under has decreased by 66 percent. Firearms are involved in only 1.7 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under. In the past 20 years, firearms-related fatalities in the home have dropped by 64 percent. One thing is clear: proactive education works. Do your part by educating your children today.
As your children grow older, even if you’ve decided not to keep guns in your home, encourage your children to take a firearm safety course. They may decide never to own or shoot a gun, but knowledge is power and safety.
"The great aim of education is not knowledge but action." – Herbert Spencer
Bonus – Firearm Safety Tips:
Photo Credit: www.hunter-ed.com