Soon Christmas is upon us and there will be a new firearm under the tree for some if they are lucky…and no doubt a few of these new gun recipients will be our kids. With that thought it is perhaps a good time to give serious thought to gun safety. It is our responsibility as adults to keep those firearms out of the hands of those not authorized, especially children! It is, I believe, also a responsibility to have a discussion with your child about firearm safety. They need to understand what to do if they find a gun when not in your presence, whether it be at home, at a friend’s house or elsewhere.
In just the past few months instances of children accidentally shooting themselves or another person with a gun they should have never had access to have occurred time and time again. These tragic stories are repeated too often, one time is too many.
Even though most of you reading this have a good understanding of gun safety and responsibility, the topic can never be overemphasized. When I provide firearms training, no matter the audience or experience level, one of the first things covered are the firearms safety rules. I expect them to be adhered to, both on and off the range! When it comes to the safety of children, there can be no exceptions.
Not sure how to talk to kids about firearms, or what educational programs are available? Let’s take a look at a few of these options.
1. National Rifle Association: The organization has been around for decades and is committed to preservation of gun rights and firearms safety. The resources available to the public for gun safety programs are too many to mention here. However, a good place to start is the “Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program”. https://eddieeagle.nra.org/
2. Project Appleseed: Another great shooting and educational organization that has lots of opportunities when it comes to gun safety and offers shooting programs with the unique twist of American Heritage all rolled into one program. http://appleseedinfo.org/
3. Hunter Education Programs: These state-run programs are an excellent way to get the gun safety message across to kids, and most allow for parents or guardians to take the course along with the child. Even if you or the children are not hunters, the overlying theme of these programs is firearms safety. Check with your local State Game & Fish agencies or the County Extension Office.
4. National Shooting Sports Foundation: This national organization is dedicated to “Promotion, Protection and Preserving” the shooting sports. They have an excellent program, “Project Child Safe” that is dedicated to children and firearms safety. Check it out at, http://www.nssf.org/ http://www.projectchildsafe.org/safety/find-a-safety-kit
These are but a few of the programs available to you and your children. I mention these only because I have had hands on experience with them throughout my career. There are no doubt others in your local area. Some 4-H and Scouting programs also have shooting and gun safety training in many states.
When in doubt just reviewing the cardinal rules of gun safety is always in order especially before any trip to the range or hunting venture, they are;
1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
2. Don’t let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’re ready to shoot.
4. Be aware of your target and what’s around it.
Please take gun safety seriously, for your sake and for those whom you are responsible and care about. Safe gun handling, storage and education are responsibilities that we must never take for granted.
Written by Terry Nelson.