Guns and Kids

I recently got the following as a comment from a new mother on my “What Happens After A Gun Fight” post.

There’s just something about guns that don’t fit well with me these days. I guess it’s the mommy in me that’s talking here. My husband has owned a gun since I met him almost a decade ago. When we got married and moved in together, his gun was never much of a problem to me. But as our little girl is now growing up fast and is becoming more curious by the day, I’m getting more and more worried. His safety box does not seem adequate for me anymore. Any tips? – Tammy

Tammy, I’m not sure I can give you an answer that will calm your fears, but I can tell you what I did and what I think about guns and small children.

First, thing I’d like to say is if your husband has his gun locked in a safety box, he’s taken the maximum precaution to limit access. I’m assuming the safety box is one that locks and requires an access code to open. Someone who doesn’t know that code, adult or child, isn’t going to get at the gun. Could you get it without knowledge of the code?

Second, have you shot his weapon? It sounds like you have quite a bit of fear of guns, and generally that is the result of a lack of familiarity. Things are always scarier to us when we don’t full understand them. Even things that actually are very dangerous, whether guns, power tools, or motorcycles, become less scary once we understand them and are use to operating them. I’d suggest you have him take you to a range, or sign up for some woman’s only firearms training.

Third, curiosity and unfamiliarity are the main reasons kids access guns and do stupid things with them. My solution was to sit down with my boys when they were about 5-6 and talk to them about my guns. I explained that a gun was a very dangerous thing and not a toy. I also allowed them to handle the unloaded weapon. I answered their questions and let them satisfy their curiosity. We never had an issue with them and my guns, even though they are generally unlocked and easily accessed in my bedroom.

Some would say you should be able to tell your kid not to touch something and they will do it. But every child is different and while discipline is important, they are all going to test you on something. Strong willed children are going to test you on everything. You don’t want the thing they test you on to be your firearms. So satisfy their curiosity and make guns like your car, its something you have to be a grown up to handle safely and no big deal.

The average urban American doesn’t have the experience rural Americans had growing up with guns. For hundreds of years in our country little boys and girls had their own weapons at a very young age. 5-6 year old boys kept their 22 rifles in their rooms. They were just a tool. One their fathers had taught them to use, respect and even cherish when they were even younger. Guns were just part of life.

During the time leading up to the American Revolution, whole communities would get together ever Sunday afternoon after church to practice with their muskets. Mom’s would bring babies in arms to these social events, and kids grew up with regular exposure to guns.

Hope that helps Tammy. I’m sure some of my readers will chime in on how they’ve dealt with firearms in the home with small children. You’ll find most firearms enthusiasts are very open and quick to help people new to firearms. If you have any more questions fell free comment, or contact me via the contact form.

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