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.]