Nothing will destroy your life more quickly and thoroughly than a negligent discharge that takes the life of a loved one. Friendly fire? More like eternal hell. TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day series continues to highlight the importance of NOT relying [exclusively] on safety devices to protect your children from their curiosity about firearms. That said, a member of our Armed Intelligentsia recently pointed out that this website needs to spend a bit more time recommending behavior and [a little] less effort reprimanding people for piss-poor safety and/or self-defense techniques. To that end, I’m republishing a comment from PATRIOT PREACHER. Double P offers a helpful hint on how to teach your children to respect guns . . .

I once heard a story of a dad whose little seven-year-old boy was showing interest in his guns—as kids do. So he took him and two cantaloupes out to the range.

He asked “Who is your best friend? ”

“Jimmy,” came the reply ”

“OK, draw Jimmy’s face on this mellon with these markers.

When his son finished he said “Now draw your sisters face on this one”

Done !

He set the melons on a hay bale about 15 feet away and took out his 410 shotgun [w/ gameload]. The father helped his son point it and coached him about gun handling sighting and cushioning against kickback.

The melons exploded, of course. The father then told his son that a gun doesn’t know that a target is a melon or your friend or your sister. It just shoots and what you shoot at.

He let that sink in and then they had a laugh about exploding melons and continued their shooting session.

I have never heard a better way to teach children to respect the danger of a gun without making them terrified of them.

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38 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Teach Your Children to Respect Guns

  1. I was brought up around guns; rifles and shotguns. I was taught from the start – before I can even remember – to Leave Guns Alone. When I got old enough to handle a gun I was taught basic gun safety, including to always treat a gun as if it were loaded, even if you *knew* it wasn’t. I distinctly remember my dad telling me, “don’t ever point a gun at another person. If you do have to aim a gun at another person, don’t pull the trigger. If you do have to pull the trigger, shoot to kill.” I’m guessing that’s what he learned in the Army, but it stuck with me. Guns are tools, and a primary use is to kill things. If you don’t want to destroy something or someone you care about, don’t aim a gun in that direction.

    Now I’m learning and internalising the 4 Rules. It would be good to teach them to kids as a matter of fact from when they’re little, and start with Leave Guns Alone.

  2. “I distinctly remember my dad telling me, “don’t ever point a gun at another person. If you do have to aim a gun at another person, don’t pull the trigger. If you do have to pull the trigger, shoot to kill.” I’m guessing that’s what he learned in the Army”

    I heard the first and the last from my father, too, and his firearms training also was a gift from Uncle Sam. He also stressed that guns are tools, nothing more and nothing less. We wouldn’t let a kid handle a bandsaw without extensive training. Why would we do any different with a firearm?

    • We wouldn’t let a kid handle a bandsaw without extensive training. Why would we do any different with a firearm?

      Perzactly, Ralph. PerZACtly.

  3. But, but, but…..

    Don’t you see a problem or a conflict or something in trying to say to kids, “leave guns alone,” and then teaching them safety rules?

    • Teaching them to leave guns alone when they are younger and then teaching them the rules of proper gun safety when they are old enough to understand the implications doesn’t sound like a problem at all.

      Even if a child shows no interest in firearms teaching them the proper way to be safe around them would never be a bad idea because you can never be around your children 24/7 and arming them with the knowledge to keep them safe is every parents responsibility.

      • Its about the same as telling your toddler not to touch the kitchen knives. Then, when they are ready, teaching them to make a PB and J with a butter knife. If all goes well, after a while, working up to real knives, slicing tomatoes and making a BLT.

        A parents duty is to teach life skills. How to do this/ What to do if…. etc.

        • Or like telling your 14-year-old daughter to not have sex with any of the other high-school freshmen, but just in case putting her on the birth control pills.

          I hate comparisons, but that’s a pretty good one, don’t you think?

        • The overall idea is,

          “If you don’t understand it, don’t deal with it. If you do, it doesn’t hurt to take some precautions.”

        • No, it’s a horrible comparison, and I’ll tell you why: sex is one of the basic urges of the Human body. They are, in order:

          Water
          Food
          Shelter
          Sex

          You can tell kids not to have sex until you’re blue in the face and they’re red in the face, but when that biological urge hits, with those raging hormones, it’s all but impossible for a kid to say “no”. Best to explain the basics of reproduction, explain why it’d be better to wait, and give them protection just in case.

          Guns are more like power tools – they *ARE* power tools – than anything else.

    • I see no conflict. Kid safety is if they come across a gun in an unsupervised situation. I phrase it as “what do you do if you come across a gun?” I use the Eagle Eddie rules that the NRA sponsors. Stop, don’t touch, leave the room, tell an adult. When they are on the range with me, “what are the 4 rules for safely handling a gun?” Most kids are smart enough to learn when to apply the rules. We also use the rules for other items. Airsoft and BB guns follow the same 4 safety rules for handling a firearm.

    • “Don’t you see a problem or a conflict or something in trying to say to kids, “leave guns alone,” and then teaching them safety rules?”

      Let me answer your question with a couple of questions, Mike.

      Should we not discuss safe driving habits with children who don’t have learner’s permits? Should we not discuss safe sex with children before they’re 18? How about the proper, responsible way to enjoy some booze… is that topic off limits until the 21st birthday?

      There are any number of things that we discuss with children when they’re too young to actually do them. We teach them anyway because we know the day soon comes that they aren’t too young and when it comes to safety there’s no such thing as starting too early. Why should guns be any different? What conflict do you see?

    • No. Why do you ask? Context, Mikey, context. Think “adult supervision” for “kids”. Most children aren’t idiots and most children have respect for their parent’s wishes and the rules that those parents set for them. Perhaps your life experience is a lot different from mine.

    • Let’s talk about power tools, Mike. A kid under the age of, say, 10. Just let him (or her) play with the radial arm saw? The table saw? Power drill? Bandsaw? No, you teach those kids to Leave The Tools Alone. As they get older and show an interest, you start by teaching them the basics of safety around power tools, like keep your fingers and arms out of the path of the tool. Like wear eye protection. Like don’t wear loose clothing when using the tools. At that point, you teach the kids Only With Adult Supervision. As they gain mastery and proficiency, you start to give them more and more privileges until they are fully trustworthy to use the tools unsupervised.

      Same thing with guns. Guns are just tools, Mike.

      • I don’t think it’s that simple. There’s a big overlap between the time the kid is so young that the guns can be dangerous for him, let’s say 5 or 6 years old, and when he’s able to actually handle the guns, say about 10 or 12. During that overlap time, talk and training and lessons and anything else to do with guns works strongly against that “leave guns alone,” dictum.

        You always get back to the only thing that works, inaccessibility.

        • “There’s a big overlap between the time the kid is so young that the guns can be dangerous for him, let’s say 5 or 6 years old, and when he’s able to actually handle the guns, say about 10 or 12.”

          I was 8 when I was taught how to shoot, and 35 years later I’ve thus far not had any accidents. I don’t think I’m unique among shooters, or even unusual.

          “During that overlap time, talk and training and lessons and anything else to do with guns works strongly against that “leave guns alone,” dictum.”

          Have some data? Some proof?

          “You always get back to the only thing that works, inaccessibility.”

          Inaccessibility is best, yes, but you can only control that in your own home. There’s a big world out there full of gun owners both legal and illegal, and with more than 300 million guns in America there is a non-trivial chance that your child will encounter one outside of your control. Why not stack the deck in your favor with as much education as possible?

        • During that overlap time, talk and training and lessons and anything else to do with guns works strongly against that “leave guns alone,” dictum.

          Bull hockey. During that overlap time, you’re taking them to the range. You’re maybe bringing home the kill from a hunt. You’re showing them in no uncertain terms how very, very dangerous guns are. Just like you’d be showing them how the power tools work and what they can do to wood or perhaps metal – and explain how much quicker it will do it to human flesh.

          THIMK, Mike. THIMK.

  4. I feel badly for the shooters who weren’t raised around firearms and have to sort out their know-how for themselves from what they are told at the range and on the Internet. It’s scary. There’s a lot of bad info out there, much of it spread around by people who claim to be the experts.

      • Mikey doesn’t have that much info except “bad, don’t touch.” I was thinking more of Gabe Suarez and his pack of badass mall ninjas. Or Tex Grebner, the guy who engaged a paper target in close-quarter combat at six inches… and lost. Or FPS Russia, or…

        • “Magoo, why do you hurt me like this? I’ve always been loyal to you. There’s a bit more to me than “bad, don’t touch.” ”

          Dude! Seriously?!

        • There’s a bit more to me than “bad, don’t touch.”

          *koff* *koff* bullshit *koff* *koff*

    • +1

      Had a buddy tell me he read on the internet that .380 acp and .38 super were interchangeable the same way .38 special and .357 magnum are. I had to open a box of both at the store and ask him if he thought his 1911 would cycle a round that was basically 1/3 of an inch shorter than it was chambered for.

  5. My wife was apprehensive about introducing our kid to guns at an early age. The point that convinced her to let me proceed: When my (gun-educated) son is at a friend’s house, he will be able to recognize a bad situation brewing and know when it’s time to head for the door.

    • While I tend to agree, beets just don’t explode the way a watermelon does. Maybe if we just used over-ripe watermelons, unfit for eating?

      I have tried beets in every possible configuration. Beets are just plain *nasty* and unfit for my consumption. YMMV.

      • How about waterballoons? I’ve had some fun shooting them in the past while saving the mellons for eatin’.

        • Water balloons can be fun! I’m in! How about some cheap-o sodas from the Dollar Tree? Those can be fun, too!

  6. All kids should be taught gun safety, and a big part of the lesson is for them to leave guns alone unless an adult is present to watch over them.

    • Sure, Joe. That’ll cure their curiosity and inquisitiveness when they’re 5 and their rebelliousness at 10.

      I’m gonna ask you a delicate question, Joe. Did you raise any kids that lived?

      • I’m in the middle of raising four kids, and likely more will join them before they’re all raised. I can’t say they won’t do something stupid with a gun one day, and it could even be fatal. I sure hope they don’t. In the meantime, “bad, don’t touch” didn’t work well for me when I was growing up, and so I’ve avoided that route with my kids. It’s working pretty darn well so far.

      • Now, this is a friendly website, and we don’t go calling each other stupid jackasses just because we disagree. Even you, Mike, when you come braying in here about how we’re going to hurt ourselves or our loved ones or some innocent bystander(s), we try to be polite and refrain from accusing you of having recto-cranial inversion syndrome. So I’m not going to do that, because I don’t want to drag the website into such nonsense.

        I will, however, refer you to the article about teaching kids gun safety. I just posted a comment there regarding an incident Margaret and I happily experienced today at the range. Oh, look – it’s right below my comment here!

  7. Margaret and I were at the range today, and a couple brought in their 10-year-old (I asked) daughter to shoot. The father showed her how to load the .22 revolver, and taught her to hold the gun and had her take a few shots. Because of the gun’s ergonomics, it was just too big for her little hands, and she said it hurt, so she quit shooting. But this is an EXCELLENT path to teach her about guns and gun safety. I gave the couple a thumbs-up for starting her education to help keep her safe.

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