How to Effectively Teach Gun Safety for Kids
In the United States on the second Sunday in June, we observe Children’s Day, a special day where we focus on improving their health and safety. This special day for kids predates both Mother’s and Father’s Day with celebrations in America dating from the 1860s and earlier. So in honor of this special day, I wanted to talk about something I take very seriously — gun safety for kids.
I've been playing with guns since I was a young boy when we would dress up and “play war” with the boys in the neighborhood. Sometimes it was sticks and sometimes it was BBs, but one thing we NEVER thought about was safety. As I got older, I learned a bit more about firearms and safety and didn't want my kids making the same mistakes I made.
I started teaching my boys about guns and safety when they were about three and five years old, and I continue to test them on their knowledge. I’ve also had the opportunity as a Cub Scout leader and public speaker to talk to groups of children and make sure they understand the basic gun safety rules.
There are a few things I’ve repeatedly found after these talks from the parents.
- If they don't like guns, they don’t want/need their kids to learn gun safety because they would “never have a gun in their home!” or
- The parents have guns in the home, loaded, and in a place their kids “could never reach/find.”
And now we know why we hear about how Jimmy shot his friend Timmy when they found his parents' gun…
Let’s stop the insanity, shall we?
About one-third of homes with children also have firearms in the home. Even if you don’t have a gun in your home, there’s a good chance their friends do, and from what I’ve learned from talking to some of the gun owners, there’s a good chance those guns are not locked up. The fix is pretty easy, educate your kids.
When I talk to kids, I go through firearms safety rules first. We can tell kids all day long to NEVER TOUCH A GUN! But we were all kids at one point and know the temptation of the forbidden fruit.
Teaching Gun Safety for Kids
- With a real gun (cleared, and cleared again), I will show them the parts of the gun and tell them how it works. I’ll let them ask questions about guns and shooting.
- I’ll put the gun on a table and ask them if it’s loaded or unloaded. (They will usually say it’s unloaded.) I ask how they know. And thus teaching the first lesson: You can’t tell if a gun is loaded by looking at it…Treat all firearms like they’re loaded.
- I’ll go to pick up the gun and ask where I don’t want to pick it up by. (If you did a good job of explaining how the gun works, they should say the trigger.) Good! So I want to keep my finger off the trigger until I’m ready to shoot.
- With the gun in my hand, I’ll ask if they remember where the bullets come out of this thing. (Again, good training show gets you the hole on the end.) I’ll then ask them if it’s safe to point it at something I don’t want to shoot. NO! Of course not. Never point it at anything you don’t want to shoot.
- I’ll usually just talk about how powerful some bullets are and that you need to know what’s behind where you’re shooting. This leads to making sure you know what you’re shooting at and what’s around it.
There is no excuse for not teaching your children gun safety.
I’ve found that using the gun as a visual aid and making it fun help them remember. With my boys, I make them tell me the safety rules each time before we train. I also let my kids hold my guns, and when they were ready, I started teaching them all the fundamentals.
I want them to know that if they ever want to touch a gun, all they have to do is ask. The next thing I think is important for kids to know is what to do if they see a gun and there are no trustworthy adults around. The NRA has a great program, and it’s an easy way to teach and for kids to remember. It’s called the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.
NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program
If you see a gun:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
I’ve “tested” my boys on several occasions on this by placing one of my guns (cleared, double-cleared, etc.) on a table where they will see it. I leave the room and wait until they go in the room with the gun. Every time they have done the right thing and YELLED for dad. It’s a good feeling to know they will do this at their friends' homes since I have no control over their friends' parents' weapon safety skills.
Gun safety for kids should be taught early. This is the only way you can keep your children safe. Even if you don’t like guns, though I’m not sure too many people are reading this who don’t, but I do know there are some government employees who are getting paid to read everything I post on my website and social media…so you never know!
Here’s a video from the NSSF about gun safety. Not the best production, but there are some great points for your kids to watch and learn.
Have a great Child's Day! Take your kids to the range and have some fun with them. Hooyah!