Teaching Kids about Guns

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TTAG recently contacted the trainer highlighted in the TV package above. Keith Owen agreed to pen a post on the subject for our readers’ edification:

“News reports are filled with gun violence. Accidental shootings involving children are a media staple. Usually, the firearms-related fatality is due to a child who “happens” to find a gun at their house or the house of a friend, and then discharges the firearm in an unsafe direction through their own curiosity and/or ignorance. The anti-gun press and gun control activists like to exploit these terrible tragedies to argue for restricting Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Society should ban guns or severely limit gun sales and ownership to prevent such tragedies from happening. There is another way  . . .

The first thing people need to realize: accidents will happen. In a country with over three hundred million people, both children and adults are going to die in accidents. Every day, children die from falls, poisonings, bicycle collisions, drowning and automobile crashes. The chances that a child will die because of any of these accidents are far greater than death via a negligent or accidental firearms discharge.

I’m not trying to downplay the emotional pain of child-related firearms accidents. I simply want parents to understand that they don’t need to panic. If they approach firearms safety in the same reasonable and calm manner they approach road safety or other dangers, if they address the issue of firearms safety rather than ignore it, they can help keep their kids safe in a world where guns exist.

My company (Triple Threat Firearms training) hosts gun safety classes for kids. We’re dedicated on taking the “wonder and mystery” out of firearms. We charge $20 for a parent to bring their child to one of our one hour seminars (that’s all kids can sit still for).

We start by teaching kids from five to eighteen-years-old the “four firearms safety rules.” The children learn why these rules exist and how they can prevent accidents. That no one can get hurt if they follow the rules. We then talk about guns in movies. We discuss the fact that movies aren’t “real”; someone can get shot in one scene and appear alive and well in the next.

I then demonstrate (with pictures and firearms) how a handgun, shotgun and rifle works. We also examine cartridges to understand what’s inside and what happens when you pull the trigger (we have only three rounds and not in a caliber that any of our guns take). I also explain what a bullet can do to a person if they’re shot.

We tell the kids how to call 911 in any emergency. Then we help the kids practice passing firearms to us and each other safely. At first, we use plastic training guns. Once we are sure the kids can handle firearms without pointing them in an unsafe direction, the kids handle triple safety checked unloaded firearms—under direct supervision.

Parents participate in the process. We stress that they should keep their guns out of the reach of children until their kids are of an age to responsibly shoot. Even before that age (which differs with each child), we advocate that they take their children shooting, so they can hear the load rapport of a firearm and gain an appreciation for safe gun handling and what firepower means.

We encourage parents in the audience to inspect unloaded firearms to show their kids that that the guns are, indeed, unloaded. They provide an important role model for their progeny and demonstrate that the “Four safety rules” are sacrosanct—”even” for adults.

The program is designed to help kids and parents understand the dangers and responsibility that gun ownership entails. Our company also enjoys the benefit of signing up many parents in our firearms classes after the seminar. It’s a perfect example of helping others while helping ourselves.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you do it in a class or at home, teaching gun safety is an important parental duty, even for the anti-gun parent. If every parent would take a few minutes and teach their child what to do when they come in contact with a firearm then accidental child gun deaths in America would drop precipitously. It’s the best we can do.

[Keith Owen is a martial arts instructor living in Boise Idaho, a former police officer and one of the Primary Use of Force Instructors at the Idaho Police Academy (P.O.S.T.). Keith co-owns Triple Threat Firearms Training  www.t3firearmstraining.com.]

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

32 Responses to Teaching Kids about Guns

  1. I find this issue one of the greatest and most fascinating dilemmas I face. My boy is 8 now, and as I shared here some months ago, has had very little exposure go guns of any kind except the time I let him shoot the air-soft gun at a local carnival.

    I tried to use it as an opportunity to teach him some basic safety rules, and I’m happy to report he hasn’t yet turned into a rabid killer or a fanatic gun nut. But, aside from the joke about rabid killer, that is exactly the dilemma, as I see it. I’m not convinced this kind of exposure for young kids diminishes the curiosity. Yet, I can’t bring myself to believe total prevention of all exposure is better.

    This summer we’ll be visiting my family in the States. My nephews in Las Vegas, both in their 20s now, are serious gun enthusiasts. My brother says they’re extremely safety conscious. I’m considering taking my kids shooting in the desert with them, partly as an experiment. It would be an opportunity to put some of my theories to the test, to see for myself how kids react to guns upon first exposure as well as to observe my nephews in action, all under my supervision.

    I’ll keep you posted. Maybe Robert will give me a little air time for that one, if Adam and some of the other nay-sayers don’t mind too much.

    • avatarracer88 says:

      What about when your kid visits his friend’s house? Are all the guns safely stowed? What if he’s in a park and finds a ditched gun in the bushes?

      You CAN’T prevent exposure 100%… unless you keep the kid locked up at home.

      The NRA created a very good “Eddie the Eagle” safety video for kids. My kids watched it over and over started about age 4 or 5. I drilled them on the four rules until they knew it cold. I’d also quiz them with various scenarios.

      Learn Gun Safety with Eddie The Eagle. From that video, the four easy rules for children are:

      If you see a gun:
      STOP!
      Don’t Touch.
      Leave the Area.
      Tell an Adult.

    • avatarSilver says:

      Isn’t it nice that mikeb makes use of other people’s 2A rights to suit his own needs, while advocating to squash them at the same time? Frankly, I’m shocked your “gun enthusiast” family has anything to do with you, seeing as how you loathe gun owners and are working to take away their rights.

      As for your son, I hope that apple falls very, very far from the tree. I’d vote to not talk to him at all, EVER, about guns; better that he learn about them his own way than through your poisoned lies.

      • Silver, you’re just being nasty. I would like stricter gun control laws for my nephews and you and everybody else. That’s not the same a “squashing” anything.

        • avatarRobert Farago says:

          Yes. Yes it is.

        • avatarRory says:

          Guys calm down, even if you disagree with him and his views, don’t you tell him how he should raise his children, relate to his family, or that his son should not be like him. If he said the same for you, wouldn’t you get angry. It’s his god given right that he has his own opinion, + he looks like he was going to go shooting with his kid. Being calm, respectful, and not calling those you disagree with dirt, is the only way that we can win this fight. In fact, your last comments will only serve to alienate those who are on the fence about 1 shooting trip like mike is. In no way does this mean I agree with him. Silver, you acted disgustingly, while racer88 tried to supply some sort of idea or suggestion. All of us need to calm down.

        • Thanks, Rory, but it doesn’t take FLAME DELETED to sway the fence-sitters. You’re already losing them. I recently covered a Think Progress report in which they showed gun ownership going down.

          Although surprising at first, it seemed plausible to me considering that the number of hunters is declining more than the number of new first-time gun owners. It would mean that you guys are becoming a smaller and more concentrated group.

          Ask yourself this. Do you and your friends individually own more guns than you did a year ago?

        • avatarSilver says:

          Prove it.

          FLAME DELETED

          And Rory, open your eyes. Your rights are at stake. If you’ve been with this blog for even a couple months, you’d see truly what mikeb thinks of you and any other gun owner, and what he wants to do with your rights. Suddenly he makes one post about taking his son shooting and he should be treated as an old friend who just wants to go shooting? Bull.

          Go on, keep treating enemies of the Constitution with “civility” rather than determination; see how much they reciprocate when it comes time to protect your rights.

        • Silver, your intensity and exaggerated outrage is a riot. I presume it’s exaggerated because if you really got that hot under the collar about some blog discussions, you wouldn’t be able to control yourself out in the real world.

          In fact, maybe you can’t. Maybe you’re one of those walking time bombs who give the other guys a bad name.

          Psychological screening is what you need, man. It might help you identify why you can’t stand it when someone disagrees with or disapproves of you. Of course if they had such a thing, you’d probably be one of the first disarmed.

        • avatarRory says:

          First of all, I don’t even own any guns. I’m fifth-teen, learning jazz drums at a liberal arts school in Texas. Of the few times I’ve been shoting, I’ve loved them all, and as one of the kids who would have statistically been at risk, I can assure you I had proper exposure, seen videos of what a bullet can do (on ballistics gel). I was totally in control of the firearm, because if someone came to harm by my hands,because I could not live with myself if I did. I also new from my first trip to the range that I was a pro-gunner, and I was going to defend that right to the death of me.

          Now, I could go the route of silver, and when I saw my opinion disagreed with, or my rights being infringed, I could lash out and try and somehow win an argument by vilely spewing hatred, instead of just the facts. But, that, is not what is right. If we wish our freedom to be protected, and have people always around to protect it, we must be calm, based in facts, and kind. If we refuse this, if we go the route of hate, then we lose all of our rights, and frankly, the beasts we will have become will not deserve those freedoms.

        • avatarSilver says:

          Uh oh, watch out mikey, your repressed inner tyrant is showing! Someone disagrees with you passionately, so you lash out and threaten to take away his rights for daring to do so. Thank you making my point about you perfectly clear.

          I can’t stand it when tyrants and scum like you try to put me in danger and steal my rights. The founding fathers couldn’t stand it either. I guess that makes them outrageous fanatics? I guess Adams being livid on the floor of Congress was just him being psychotic?

          Pathetic.

          I don’t respect people like you. I have no reason then to be polite with you. It’s really that simple.

        • avatarMikeS says:

          I have had several friends, over the last couple of years, who I NEVER imagined would entertain the thought, begin asking me advice on what their first firearm purchase should be. Took someone hunting for the first time in their life in the fall. Several more have begun expressing interest.
          Of my trips to the gun store over the last year, I’ve seen many first-time shoppers. As a matter of fact, I’d say its been more often than not. The number of my friends that hold a CCW permit has gone from zero 3 years ago to a half dozen.
          If my experience is to be any indication, the studies claiming there are fewer gun-buyers are the anti-gun lobby’s wishful thinking, Mike.

        • avatarRobert Farago says:

          Ask yourself this instead: are you willing to ignore multiple reliable verifiable data points to cling to an opinion based on one subjective source? Anecdotal evidence will only take you so far; when the weight of facts is sufficient it crushes prejudice. If you open your mind.

          In fact, Mike, assume for a moment that gun sales in the U.S. are going nuts. What does that tell you? Wait; I know: nut cases, paranoia, etc. Can you say idee fixee? Think of it this way . . .

          I’m a Jew. Imagine I walk outside one night and see all the stars aligned in a message: “Robert Kenneth Farago, I Jesus, am the one true Lord. Believe in me.” The media is all over it, camped outside my door. My friends and family saw it too. Everything indicates that the message is “real.” I would reconsider my position vis a vis Jesus.

          Now imagine I am a true believer in Jesus. I walk outside one night and see all the stars in a message: “Robert Kenneth Farago Jesus is a fraud. Deal.” Same media. Same friends and family feedback. I would not reconsider my position. I’d say it was a trick by Satan. I would not, could not be swayed.

          Which is a better description of your belief indeed faith in gun control?

        • avatarRory says:

          First of all, I don’t even own any guns. I’m fifth-teen, learning jazz drums at a liberal arts school in Texas. Of the few times I’ve been shoting, I’ve loved them all, and as one of the kids who would have statistically been at risk, I can assure you I had proper exposure, seen videos of what a bullet can do (on ballistics gel). I was totally in control of the firearm, because if someone came to harm by my hands,because I could not live with myself if I did. I also new from my first trip to the range that I was a pro-gunner, and I was going to defend that right to the death of me.

          Now, I could go the route of silver, and when I saw my opinion disagreed with, or my rights being infringed, I could lash out and try and somehow win an argument by vilely spewing hatred, instead of just the facts. But, that, is not what is right. If we wish our freedom to be protected, and have people always around to protect it, we must be calm, based in facts, and kind. If we refuse this, if we go the route of hate, then we lose all of our rights, and frankly, the beasts we will have become will not deserve those freedoms.

        • avatarSilver says:

          I’m not trying to win an argument with mikeb. You can’t win with someone who refuses to discuss facts and logic. I’m trying to let an enemy and supporter of tyranny know that there are those who will never, ever stand for it. I’m all for going “hearts and minds” with those on the fence, or those against guns simply due to non-exposure. But mikeb is neither of those. He’s the face of the enemy. If you’re too blind to see that, then go ahead and let him ride your kindness all the way to the end of your rights.

          Why is it so hard for people to get this? “I know you like chocolate, but I like vanilla” is a difference of opinion. That’s all well and good. “I feel that you and your family’s lives should be put to the whims of criminals and oppressive government” is not a difference of opinion, it’s a threat. Very simple.

          I guess the men of Lexington and Concord were “beasts” for fighting the British rather than calmly and kindly talking to them while they took their land.

        • Silver, what rights are you talking about that I want to take away? Is it the right for a criminal to buy a gun from you without a background check, or is it your right to sell it to him privately?

          That is one I’d like to remove. Why do you want to hang onto that one?

    • avatarGreg in Allston says:

      I thinks it’s an excellent idea Mikey. I hope that your nephews prove to be good instructors. Prior to going to the range, study Cooper’s 4 Rules with your son and wife, memorize them by heart. Bring your wife along too. You should put a few rounds down range yourself.

      I started my daughter when she was 8, with a .22 rifle. She knows the rules, exhibits good gun handling skills and is becoming a capable marksman. She’s learning how to handle herself in the world.

      A few weeks ago I had her running an AR-15 with an adjustable stock that fit her perfectly and she ran it pretty well for her first time firing a center fire rifle. She LOVED it, and you should have seen the smile on her face when she came off of the line. Priceless.

      If your nephews are any good at all, your apple will roll very far from your tree. Good luck and God’s speed to your son.

      • avatarCarlosT says:

        That’s the thing: shooting is fun! As long as the person introducing the new shooter doesn’t screw it up, most people will have a great time and look forward to doing it again.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    I’m considering taking my kids shooting in the desert with them, partly as an experiment.

    mikey, with all due respect (ie., not much), kids should not be the subject of experiments. You’re rabidly anti-gun, and you should be teaching your offspring to be as irrational as you are. Their entire world would be out of kilter if your kids enjoyed shooting and then realized that they live in a place where guns will be denied to them. You should be seeking to maintain the family tradition of firearms ignorance. For the children.

    • Ralph, put your lawyer hat on for a minute. If I were “rabidly anti-gun” why would I consider doing anything like this, why would I have let my boy shoot the air-soft gun?

      • avatarRalph says:

        If I were “rabidly anti-gun” why would I consider doing anything like this

        FLAME DELETED

        Don’t hate the messenger.

  3. avatarDon says:

    Mikes, I agree with Ralph and think cultural experiments on kids should be minimized……but while your’re at it…..be sure to teach them the three secrets to “reasonable gun control”. They are Sight alignment,Sight picture andTrigger control. We generally don’t tell these secrets to the antis but a father mentoring a kid needs to know!

  4. avatarFrank Dioguardi Sr. says:

    I have had 7 children 5 girls and two boys, I raised 4 children who are all grown today with 5 loaded guns in the house. One in each bathroom hidden where only members of my family knew. And one in the Boys bedroom and one in the girls bedroom and last the bedroom my wife and I shared.
    Each child upon reaching 7 years of age had to go to the range and learn gun safety and how to shoot accurately. Every year we went for recurrent training! We had parties in my house for the children and had many for the adult friends of ours.
    No one knew about our Loaded Firearms in the house all those years. My youngest child who is going to be 10 this May 20th, learned to shoot at age 6. Today, She, as did the others many years ago, may shoot the AR-15 or the .22 Pistol or any weapon I have she is comfortable with.
    She usually shoots with me after her Ballet practice, very cute in her ballet outfit at the range she has a fan club at the range!. I have had 7 children, ages 52 to 9 years old. They all have fired my collection. Don’t go giving me that liberal crap about guns.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Frank, you da man! And not just because you taught your offspring to shoot. Kids for 52 to 9 — that’s amazing.

      • avatarFrank Dioguardi Sr. says:

        Thanks Ralph its all in the spaghetti sauce I learned to make from Mom…I’ll be 72 tomorrow wish these women would let me rest, er I mean quit asking me for the recipe.

  5. avatarJefe O. says:

    Boise, ID?! I thought that Fox 9 logo looked familiar.

    Cool. I’ll have to let some friends know about this program!

  6. avatarTom says:

    When I was 5 years old, my Grandfather took me out in the pasture and taught me to shoot the Savage Stevens Favorite .22lr single shot rifle. He went through all the safety rules and had me shoot various targets under his supervision. He told me I could shoot the rifle anytime I wanted to, but under his supervision.

  7. avatarracer88 says:

    mikeb,

    I’m not familiar with your source that claims gun ownership is going down. But, the notion is truly laughable, when even the mainstream liberal media has broadly reported in recent months that gun sales are at RECORD levels.

    Similar to MikeS’ experience, I have a LOT of friends who are NEW gun owners. I’ve been VERY busy being asked for advice on gun purchases. If I include my online friends from my professional forums (who know me as a “gun guy”), the number of new gun owners in the last year would be in the MANY DOZENS. No kidding. Every week I’m answering questions. But, even among my local friends, I’d say in the last year at least a dozen have expressed interest and have taken action on arming themselves for the first time.

    While your one “source” may offer you a comforting “report,” the preponderance of evidence to the contrary is MASSIVE. So much so, that to deny it is amusing and sad at the same time.

    • avatarracer88 says:

      Oh… the reason Ruger’s stock has gone up 500% since Obama took office ISN’T because of declining sales. :)

  8. avatarssbrad says:

    I’ve commented in the past about educating my children about firearms and firearm safety. (Caveat, this has a longish introduction, with the point of this post in the third paragraph). This starts when they are 8 years old and starts with instruction at home with my handguns about safe firearms handling and the Rules. Based on my comfort with their maturity level at that point and understanding of the Rules, we then go to the range where they shoot a .22 handgun. My main point in doing this is to help prevent an “accident” if they are at a friends house (and selfishly to potentially ignite some interest in shooting). They have both expressed interest in going back to the range and have done so a few times.

    The point… last week at a Cub Scout event, we had a guest speaking about Scout camp and how there is the opportunity to shoot BB guns. Every boy in the room immediately started point their fingers and guns and going “bam”. They pointed at the ceiling, they pointed at the floor, they pointed at the desk, they point at each other. All of them did this that is except for my son, who (as he told me later) found the behavior of the other boys to be somewhat scary (and babyish).

    As far as I am concerned, the exposure I have provided my children has done exactly what I wanted – it took the mystique out of firearms but replaced that with respect and experience.

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