Updated: Jan 4
According to the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, 1.7 million children live with unlocked or loaded firearms. Among these children the statistics say that 1 out of 3 kids live in a home with a gun. Since gun ownership has more than tripled in the last few years, these numbers keep rising higher and higher. With so many firearms in circulation and children spending more time at home due to the COVID 19 virus, accidental deaths have substantially increased too. The current statistics show that a rise in almost 43% occurred for accidental deaths, with 77% of these mishaps occurring in the home. That is not even taking into account injury. The question that lies with this information is, how can we, as responsible gun owners, find ways to ensure a safe environment for our kids? Do we buy a safe? Do we not purchase a firearm at all leaving us vulnerable to potential break-ins and unwanted threats? Should our kids be trained and if so at what age is training with a firearm acceptable? I do not have all the answers to these questions but perhaps I can provide some guidance on steps to take to be a responsible firearms owner. More importantly, how we can keep children from becoming another statistic of accidental deaths.
While owning a firearm is a constitutional right of an American citizen, the 2nd amendment does not ensure safe and responsible gun ownership. Having a proper mindset and investing in training are what ensure, or at a minimum, promote responsible firearms ownership. Along these lines, training should not be a one time occurrence either. Training and staying current with the best practices of firearms safety is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to mitigate accidents from occurring. But what kind of instruction do we give our kids? I receive a lot of questions asking me how old should a child be before they receive any firearms education? I do not hear much talk about this in the industry but in my professional opinion, a kid is ready when they can demonstrate and repeat each universal firearm safety rule verbatim. When a child can show their parent they can comprehend the dangers of a firearm and can exhibit maturity and control, then and only then should they begin some type of firearms training. But what about education on how to handle an unattended firearm? We need to consider that even if a child is not ready to shoot a firearm, they may come across a firearm left alone. That is a scary thought, an unattended firearm in the hands of a child. That is a recipe for disaster and we never know when this could occur. Learning how to shoot and be safe with a firearm is one thing, but what type of training should we give to our youth to handle a firearm left unattended? Do you think a child will know how to resist the temptation and excitement that may arise from seeing a GUN? This is an entirely different form of training and is not discussed enough. Below I intend to shed light on how we can teach our kids to handle this situation and prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring.
If we desire to provide a safe environment for our children but are not present when a child comes across a firearm, how do we accomplish this? Here are some tips to help you teach your littles ones how to handle an unattended firearm. My first recommendation is to explain to your child how dangerous firearms are. Not how dangerous they can be, but that regardless of safety training they are dangerous. As a child learns to respect this fact, they will hopefully grow up with a healthy fear of firearms. Now you do not want to scare them away for life, shooting is fun and an American past time, but I do suggest you speak in a manner that is clear on the dangers while also explaining the need for training. I leave that up to you as you know your children better than I do. I will say this, it is better to be safe than sorry and start the process as early as you can. Now, how to train your child on what to do if they come across an unattended firearm. It is simple, teach them the safety rules set forth by the NRA Eddie Eagle Gunsafe program. This curriculum was specifically designed for kids K-4th grade and since its conception, it has been the go-to for youth lessons on firearm safety. The rules they have created to teach a child who comes across an unattended firearm are STOP, Do not Touch, Run Away, and Tell a Grown-up. These rules are paramount as it has been shown to reinforce a child to act swiftly, relieve them of temptation, and seek help as fast as possible. If we instill these guidelines into our children, they are more likely to handle this situation appropriately and without an accident. I am not a paid sponsor for the NRA and would even say there are some things the NRA teaches that I have learned better from other instructors, but I do believe in the NRA Eddie Eagle Gunsafe program. It makes sense and helps parents to teach their little ones what to do if they see a gun. Why reinvent the wheel. If it promotes safety and improves our 2A community I am all for it.
At the end of the day firearms safety is about training. Whether you are a kindergartener to a 45-year-old male with 35 years of firearms experience, training is the best way to mitigate accidents and emphasize firearms safety. Just like it takes any professional athlete time to master the fundamentals, it takes time for shooters to be fully aware and competent around firearms. I will leave you with this. To purchase a gun for self-defense is not enough. To train once is not enough. Firearms will forever be inherently dangerous. Do you and your family a favor, invest in your training and continue for as long as it takes to create the safest environment for you and your family. Remember our children are our future. If we do not take time to teach them, we are contributors to the failures that may come. Four concepts that can be the life changing difference no parent wants to be apart of. STOP, Do Not Touch, Run Away, and Tell an Adult. We are always here to help and are all about engaging with the people. Please comment and give us your opinions on the matter. Thank you for your time and stay tuned for next months blog on Firearms considerations when purchasing your first firearm. Stay safe, Stay trained and Stay ready, you may be called upon. Remember we train...
SO OTHERS MAY LIVE!!
Anthony R. Suihkonen
CEO of Armed Response Safety Training
USN Veteran, Certified Instructor, Proud Supporter of America and the 2nd amendment