Monday, June 20, 2011

The other four rules

In Texas, two children were injured when a 13 year old found a gun in a storage shed and caused the gun to go off while trying to see if it was loaded.  Luckily, no-one was killed.   I'd say he had to break at least three of the Four Rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
I'm teaching my kids about gun safety and how they should act if they find a gun.  This is different from teaching a child how to handle a gun safely.  What I've taught Girlie Bear, Little Bear, and Junior Bear, and will teach BooBoo when he's old enough to understand, is what to do if they find one of my guns, find a random gun while playing outside, or if they find a gun while they're over at a friend's house.  I've taken advantage of the NRA Eddie Eagle program as a tool in this.  This program has another four rules:

If you see a gun: 
  • STOP!
  • Don't Touch.
  • Leave the Area. 
  • Tell an Adult.
I wish that more schools took advantage of Eddie Eagle and other gun safety programs.  Heck, I wish the schools put all of the kids through gun, hunting, and boating safety courses as part of their PE classes.  A little safety training might keep more kids off of the 6 o'clock news.

What I do, once the kids are old enough (totally subjective), is take them down and open up the gun safe and ammo boxes.  I show them everything I have and explain what its purpose is for.  I show them each type of bullet and line them up so they can compare size and perceived power. Then I remind them that the .22 LR, which is the smallest bullet I have, is big enough to kill.  That takes care of the "I wonder what dad's guns look like" curiosity.  I also let the kids be around when I'm cleaning my guns so they learn what the insides look like and how it all fits together.  Again, satisfy their curiosity safely so they won't satisfy it themselves unsafely.

Then I pound in that they should never see a gun laying around unattended in our house, but if they do, they are to keep their hands off and tell me or another adult.  Same goes for finding a gun while playing outside or at the park (happened once to us in Arizona.  Turns out that losing an AR-15 out of the trunk isn't the only way that LEO misplaces a gun), and especially if they're over at a friend's house. 

I equate these things to when we drown-proofed them, or when we taught them how to cross the street.  I don't want my kids to be afraid of guns, but I want them to respect the harm that mishandling of a gun can cause.  The young man who accidentally shot two other children learned a harsh lesson.  My hope is that my kids and other children learn this lesson in a less traumatic fashion.

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