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.

5 thoughts on “Guns and Kids”

  1. I’m not sure what Tammy’s husband’s “safety box” is, but if it’s anything like a GunVault (http://www.gunvault.com/), then she needn’t worry. As long as the keys aren’t available to the children, there’s really not any way they could possibly get inside it to the gun.

    Not connected to GunVault, just a satisfied customer.

  2. Gun vaults are fairly safe. But so is not having a gun in the house too. I don’t know how I feel about it. I have power saws, automobiles and toasters which present their own risks to a child. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children aged less than 15 years was nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.

  3. Gun vault? I was dragging a Winchester Model 74 .22 through the back woods when the rifle may have been “taller than I was.” My Dad put his guns in a vault, too–the closet. We five kids did not dare open that vault. I’ve never owned a vault, either. And, I have three grown kids that have not shot themselves, or anyone else…. Just depends!

  4. I grew up without a dad. It was just me and my mom. So I never learned how to throw a football, I never shot a gun, or watched sports. All that was OK growing up, because since I’m a girl, I wasn’t expected to do these things. Now at 22, I’m having to play catch-up. My mother never shot a gun outside of Basic Training, and had a desk job in the Air Force, never facing a deployment. She still hates guns. She also hates motorcycles. I LOVE both firearms and motorcycles. Why? Curiosity I assume. Even though I had never even handled a gun or rode a motorcycle, I loved them. And so now I’m taking basic handgun education courses and basic ridership courses. My friends think I’m crazy. Maybe I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic if I would have been introduced to these things as a child, when my curiosity was piquing. I’m not quite sure what the point of my story is, but I’m going to throw a few things out there. 1) You’re little girl will be regarded as really “cool” by her peers if she has some basic firearm education. 2)It’s not fair to pass your fears down to your child. She should make her own decision. 3)Woman to woman… Educate yourself! There is something that feels amazing about possessing a handgun.

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