Whatever your opinions of guns may be, there are 70% chances that your child will come across a firearm once in her life. And, with nearly 30 children getting killed due to gun-related violence every year in the US, gun safety remains something that must be taught to every child.
But, there is a lack of appropriate safety information about weapons and firearms safety training for children. And, we at MomJunction believe that a topic as important as gun safety for kids should be addressed first. So, here we have compiled gun safety rules and tips to make your house a safe environment for both kids and your guns.
Gun Safety Tips:
It is the responsibility of gun owners to keep their firearm out of reach of children. Do not forget that a child as young as three has enough strength to pull a trigger. And, neither are they mature enough to exercise wise judgment around guns. So, how can you keep the kids safe when you have a gun in your house? Here are a few simple tips on gun safety for children.
1. Keep The Gun Locked:
Always keep your gun locked. ALWAYS! The lock in the guns makes shooting impossible. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that parents should start locking their guns by the time their kids are ready to crawl, i.e. around six months of age. But, why wait until they turn into a toddler for locking a gun? A gun should be locked all the time, when not in use. If your child is going to a relative or friend’s home, then ask the parents if they have guns in their house and if they are stored safely. You can also purchase external locks for guns.
[ Read: Home Safety Tips For Kids ]
2. Storage Of Guns:
Security is the most significant factor for gun storage. We all know how curious children are about things that adults have hidden from them. So, hiding the gun in a closet or shelf under some sweater is not called safe storage. You need to purchase a secure gun case for it. Gun safes and cases come with a key lock or combination, making it impossible for your child to open it. Some cases even require a palm or fingerprint scan, making it further impossible to open. You also have to lock and store your ammunition away from the guns. Keep the keys for each firearm and ammunition in a different place and all out of reach of children. And, do not forget to lock up toxic gun cleaning supplies like oils and solvents as well.
3. Instruct Your Child Not To Touch The Gun Or Its Parts:
Teach your kids not to touch the guns. It’s never okay for a child to touch a gun unless supervised. If the guns are a part of your family culture, you can expose your older child to the proper care of the weapons. It will also help develop respect for gun safety. When the child gets older, let him see how diligent he is as a gun owner has to be with its storage and handling. You can also involve him in supervised hunting or target shooting. It will help develop a proper understanding of how guns should be treated.
4. Talk About Guns:
Talking honestly and openly about the firearm and gun safety with children in considered more effective than just telling them to stay out of the gun closet. Such statements only intensify the child’s curiosity to investigate further. Address topics like the difference between real life violence and television and video game violence. Remind the child that guns in games or on television are not real. But, a real gun has bullets, which when hit, can rip through the muscles, bones and organs, doing irreparable damage. A gunshot can even kill someone. And neither is it funny to threaten to shoot someone. These words are often taken very seriously and can even summon the police.
[ Read: How To Develop Self Control In Children ]
Rules Of Gun Safety For Kids:
Children are very curious by nature. Most of them, especially the young ones, are not self-disciplined to follow instructions. So, you need to educate them about gun safety, and guns as well, which includes safe handling and how it works.
Here are some ground gun safety rules for kids to follow:
- Tell them that if they encounter a gun in a public place or their own house, do not pick it up. They must leave the area immediately and inform an adult about it. They do not have to make any assumption about the weapon.
- If they see a gun and don’t know whether it’s a toy or a real gun, tell them to treat it like it’s a real gun.
- Kids must always assume that the gun is loaded, even if you have unloaded it personally.
- Instruct them firmly not to accept a firearm from another person, even if they have unloaded it front of them.
- Ask them not to drop, throw or mishandle a gun.
- Kids must not show off their arms to classmates and friends. They do not need to tell them they have a gun in their house.
- Never let your child take a gun with him, no matter where he’s going.
Here are a few rules of gun handling and safety that must be taught to children before they go to range for the first time:
- Tell them that they must always point the gun in a safe direction, whether it is loaded or unloaded. Upwards or towards the ground is the safest direction to point the gun. Indoors, they have to be mindful of that fact that the bullet can penetrate floors, walls, ceiling, doors, and windows.
- They must not point the gun at anything that they are not willing to destroy.
- Children should keep the finger off the trigger until they are ready to shoot. People have a tendency to put their fingers on their trigger. But just don’t do it.
- The gun must be unloaded until your kid is ready to shoot. If the gun has a magazine, ask him to remove it before opening the action. If your child does not know how to check if a gun is unloaded, tell him to leave it alone. Or he can ask someone who knows about it.
- Children must keep themselves informed regarding who is beyond their target. This means that they have to observe the prospective area of firing before shooting. They must never fire in a direction that has people or where there is a potential for mishap.
- They must always use correct ammunition. Ammunition is not a toy. Shells and cartridges contain chemical propellants and should be treated with the same safety precautions as a gun.
- If the gun fails to fire even after the trigger is pulled, tell them to handle with utmost care.
- Make sure your kid wears ear and eye protection when target shooting. The loud noise from the gun can cause hearing damage. Guns also emit hot gas and debris, which can cause eye injury.
- Teach your child the handling and mechanical characteristics of the gun they are using.
- Ensure that kids do not use any drug or alcohol when handling guns. It can impair their judgment and awareness. This also includes prescription drugs and caffeine.
[ Read: Shooting Games For Kids ]
Facts And Information On Guns:
Here are a few comprehensive and well-documented facts about guns and gun control.
- More than 1/3 of United States homes have guns. People own guns for reasons like personal protection, target shooting, collection, and hunting. Approximately, 270 million guns are possessed by the civilians, and 8,97,000 are carried by police.
- In the United States, buyers purchasing guns through the private sales do not have to go through a background check before getting the possession of the weapon. So even criminals, felons and people with mental illnesses can easily purchase guns.
- 20% of the gun owners own more than 65% of the guns. Now that’s a startling fact.
- More than 33,000 Americans were victims of gun-related deaths in the year 2011. That’s an average of 270 people being shot every day.
- The National Safety Council states that 230 kids under the age of 15 were killed in gun-related accidents in the year 1991. However, the number of accidental shooting deaths has declined by more than 50% since 1940. You can attribute its reduction to safety educational programs.
- In the 2008 United States election, gun control groups donated more than $50,000 to federal candidates. It equates to approximately 2% of the money given by the gun rights groups.
Remember, it’s our right to keep the firearms, but it’s also our responsibility to keep it safely. Even a little mistake can cause a big accident. So ensure that you and your child practice all the safety measures about gun handling. If you violate any of these rules, your child will comfortably follow your example. You must be a positive role model for your child.
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