(courtesy TTAG's Facebook Page)

A reader messaged us this picture over on our Facebook page. [Click here for our TTAG Readers’ Family Photo Album. Message us your favorite snap.] I asked him to tell the story behind the image. And so he did . . .

Ever since my son was diagnosed with a sensory disorder and on the autism spectrum, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to share my love of guns and gun culture. He had an aversion to loud noises and people guiding his hands for instruction. I had tried to get him involved before but the loud noises scared him and usually once he was scared of something he would never try it again . . .

I had all but given up on sharing my hobby until I was at a friends farm plinking and my son told me he wanted to shoot a gun! I immediately grabbed my GSG 522 and sat down with him and told him about the Four Laws. I sat with him in amazement as I guided his hands to the grip and safety. He pulled the trigger once and giggled with glee!

I was so proud of him and let him empty the magazine into the target (he hit nothing but dirt) but he was having the time of his life! I would still be proud of him if he didn’t like it, but seeing the joy in his eyes made me tear up a little!

It can sometimes be difficult for a parent of a special needs child to know what that child is missing out on, but having a “normal” father-son moment brings a little normalcy to our lives.

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79 Responses to The Story Behind Today’s TTAG Facebook Page Cover Shot

  1. That’s a damn fine father right there. I remember my dad helping me aim .177 BB guns and an old Ruger 10/22 when I had no idea what I was doing. Carry on, sir.

    • Just to be clear for those that may not know, the GSG 522 is .22 caliber — effectively no recoil and not very loud.

  2. I agree with Accur81. “Great job!” I appreciate all the fathers who find ways to connect and share their passions with their children. Well done…

  3. I remember my father teaching me to shoot back in Indiana. I learned on Bob white’s and cottontails, with a .410 single shot.

  4. Absolutely awesome. I’m happy you finally got to share that “moment” with your son.. Carry on and have fun with the many more moments to come.

  5. Check out the Israeli Defense Force’s 9900 intelligence unit. It’s a prime example of a society aiding in giving meaning to the lives of those diagnosed with Autism instead of the often common ostricization in our U.S. culture.

    With a father like you, I’m sure he will grow up in a perfect and loving inviroment and continue to flourish.

    • The name escapes me, but in Denmark, a father of an autistic child started a job placement agency for autistic people. Basically autistic people are actually a good fit for jobs non-autistic people find unengaging or boring. The test case was he had his child test cell phones for the national carrier. Each phone requires hundreds of use cases to be acceptable to deploy. He did them faster than any non-autistic worker, and accurately as well. So, instead of medicating the hell out of the poor child, he fit him into a position in society where he could excel.

  6. Wow, this story teared me up a little too! I guarantee the little guy will never forget this day. Great story. Thanks.

  7. These are the kind of things that burn memories into the mind. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life. Good show, man.

  8. Not to be a dick but isn’t this kind of what happened with Adam Lanza?

    I’m all for teaching one’s kids to shoot, and ultimately it is up to the parents whether it is appropriate for their children…

    But every time I hear about someone teaching a special needs person to shoot it makes me cringe inside a little bit. Special needs usually means illogical/unpredictable reactions to normal social situation and the introduction of medication (with funny side effects sometimes).

    • Here is a good rule of thumb, whenever you preface a statement with ‘not to be a dick’, what follows is always you being a dick. Comparing this touching story to a mass murder is so offensively absurd that I am now going to have to create a kickstarter campaign to invent a machine to slap people like you upside the head via the internet. Dammit I had other shit I was going to do tonight.

    • @TheBear — you are exactly what you called yourself in the first sentence.

      Your comment tells me you have not been around special needs children. In regards to the Newtown shooter, his parents are as much to blame as the mental health system. If you bother to do some research, special needs children are overwhelmingly to victims of crimes than the perpetrators. 50% of the people the police shot in 2012 where non-violent people with mental issues. Perhaps you should do some research and be better educated so your not that which you called yourself.

    • Bear, my understanding is that you have no kids? Corect me if I’m wrong. Maybe your decision not to have kids was a sound one. At least for the kid.

    • This man just shared a special moment he had with his son, and then you go and compare the son to Adam Lanza?

      Shame, sir, shame.

      • I sorta get what “TheBear” is saying but there is a fundamental difference. The murderer was a special needs person who didn’t get his needs fulfilled (just prop him full of pills and take the day off), while the child on the picture is having a good time with a loving family who fullfill his needs and don’t needlessly drug him.

        So, good attempt wrong things to compare.

        Note: If the kid is scared of loud noises have you thought about aquiring a suppressor?

        • In response to all the responses:

          Sorry guys, I’m not backing down on this one.

          Teaching people to shoot who may not be able to function by themselves as adults in society is a no-no to me.

          I am not sure that is the case here – and I think I prefaced my above comment sufficiently to show that.

          People who will not be able to legally sign a contract as an adult should probably not be taught to shoot. The vast VAST majority of mass shooters have been people on brain-chemistry altering drugs.

          As gun owners we can’t talk out two sides of our mouths. We can’t say, “Guns aren’t the problem, crazy people are the problem (which is true)” and then be okay with teaching people who are much, MUCH more likely to snap and have illogical fits how to shoot.

          The 2nd amendment is a right. However, legally and morally, people who are sufficiently special needs or sufficiently crazy don’t have /any/ rights. Hell, Britney Spears can’t sign a contract.. and if given the chance, I would surely never teach her how to shoot.

          So in closing, I AM NOT ATTACKING THE FATHER-SON DUO ABOVE NOR MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE BOY’S LEVEL OF AUTISM OR OTHER CIRCUMSTANCE.

          All I am saying is that as gun owners, perhaps we should dial back on the “every child should be taught to shoot” and approach these things with a bit more critical thinking and a bit less warm fuzzies.

          Looking at everything through the lens of emotion is what the antis do.

    • “Not to be a dick but isn’t this kind of what happened with Adam Lanza?”

      No that is not what ‘happened’ with Adam Lanza, and posing that question does in fact make you a ‘dick’, although I would choose a much stronger pejorative.

      Two things really strike me about your post(s), aside from the hugely ignorant leaps of assumption to draw any comparison between this post and a spree killer.

      You do not seem to be able to distinguish between allowing a person to fire off a magazine under very close hands-on supervision, and handing someone a gun patting them on the head and sending them on their way.

      You also seem to be under the impression that a gun is an incredibly complex machine that only those who’ve received specialized training could possibly operate.

      In lieu of a zinger I’ll tell what I really think. I think you saw a post about a boy with a mental illness shooting a gun, and because you are not a smart person you could not recognize that this was not a bad thing. Then you made your original post due to that lack of intellect and because you’re an asshole.

      • Read above, please. I made another post clarifying my stance.

        Also, people who can’t discuss a subject or debate without reverting to name calling are generally not all that educated. Pot calling kettle black, perhaps?

        Zing!

        • You posted a bunch of drivel that forgoes the fact that just about anyone can pick up a gun and point the loud end at something and pull the trigger. The vast majority of ‘teaching someone to shoot’ is how to do so safely.

          You also continue to overlook the difference between that education and providing them with firearms.

          You made a correlation between a father and son bonding and a mass murderer. Back pedal as you might you implied that in allowing his son that experience he could potentially be another Lanza. That statement lacks any intellectual merit, and is so crudely offensive that I really cannot be bothered to sugarcoat my opinion of you. You said something so terribly stupid I can only assume that you are stupid, it was also so obviously offensive that I feel safe in also assuming you are an asshole. Quite frankly I wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire and allergic to urine, so impressing you with the civility of my discourse is not a pressing concern.

        • Blah blah blah blah.

          Okay so we’ve identified that what really hurt your feelings was I mentioned Adam Lanza.

          Well, too bad so sad. The fact is that that wacko did more harm to the public perception’s of gun owners than the rest of the mass shooters /combined/.

          Some people who have responded to me have come across like people who let their emotions guide them. That is a terrible way to make decisions and that is /EXACTLY/ what Lanza’s mom did. A troubled youth who should not probably ever be around guns was taken to the range for “bonding”.

          Would he have even been able to do anything to his mother or at the school if he was not taught to shoot? Who knows. They don’t teach you SPORTS in Call of Duty.

          Because look, yes the average person can figure out what end of a gun the bullet comes out of, but there is a HUGE difference between the damage say, my girlfriend could do as a mass shooter with her mediocre understanding/training with firearms and myself with over 60k rounds through an AR platform.

          Like I said above – it is disingenuous and makes us gun owners look kooky and divorced with reality to say all mass shooting problems are caused by mental illness or people who are off in some way, then turn around and endorse training /everyone/ to shoot. It makes us collectively look as loopy as the anti-gunners.

          I never backpedaled on any point I’ve made so far. If a person will never legally be allowed to drive, or never handle driving, they should probably never be taught to shoot.

          “BUT IT’S SUPERVISED!,” some of you say. “ANY CHILD CAN BE TAUGHT TO SHOOT, NO MATTER HOW DEVELOPMENTALLY IMPAIRED OR EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE BECAUSE IT’S SUPERVISED!”

          Bullshit.

          Once again, we can’t talk out both sides of our mouths. If it is so easy for criminals to get guns, or for people to steal them from family or friends to commit crimes (which is true and why gun control doesn’t work), then obviously, it wouldn’t be too difficult for, well, anyone’s kid either while going through puberty.

          I don’t understand how we can lambaste gun owners for being irresponsible with NDs, not locking up guns, etc. but then gush all emotional and never question how responsible it is to teach people to shoot who we /know/ may not make rational choices in life.

          I have NEVER said that the picture above was bad, and I’ve NEVER said it was irresponsible for this particular father to teach his son to shoot. I DO NOT know their particular situation.

          But the knee jerk reaction I’ve gotten just from /questioning/ it or asking why we don’t question it seems that I’ve hit a nerve.

          So once again, too bad so sad I hurt your feelings, buddy. This site is the Truth About Guns. Sometimes the truth isn’t comfortable to talk about.

    • You seem to have absolutely zero knowledge about mental illnesses and the broad spectrum of conditions that fall in that category.

      No study or expert, despite many with a motivation to do so, has ever suggested that the level of carnage a shooter has inflicted was increased because they were ‘trained’. The only evidence you provide to support your opinion is asserting that you’re a leet operator and would be much deadlier that your gf, well I’m sold lets get congress to pass a bill.

      You keep saying that everyone else is responding with nothing but emotion yet you provide no facts or information what so ever. Your entire post can be boiled down to ‘OMGZ TEH CHILDREN’

      You are not a clever person, when you attempt to be clever you succeed only in making yourself look foolish, stop trying to be clever.

      • 1. I never mentioned laws. Anywhere. Please mentally invest in greater reading comprehension if you feel fit to personally attack me.

        2. So far as I know, not a single “operator” (I hate that term) has ever engaged in a mass shooting. I think McVeigh may have been the closest and that was still not the same thing. Hell, the guy in Norway was pretty much just a dork with radical political views but being proficient with his rifle allowed him to kill almost 70 people.

        Claiming there would not be a difference between an active shooter who is untrained vs. training is utterly preposterous.

        3. You’ve accused me of emotional arguments, but so far, all you’ve done is insult me and give vague generalities that I’ve subsequently disproved. In fact, if anything, it’s obvious that I hurt your feelings (not being facetious) and offended you with what I said. And once again, too bad so sad.

        I will say this again. Teaching someone who will never be trusted to mow the lawn by themselves to use a weapon, whether it be a spear or an AR-15 is illogical and irresponsible.

        Did I say all mentally handicapped, special needs, or autistic kids/people cannot be trusted? NO I DID NOT.

        All I said was that teaching people to shoot regardless of their circumstance, and not critically questioning these types of decisions is exactly what happened with Lanza. This is still a fact.

        All you’ve done is use straw man attacks and attack me… on the internet… under a post apparently nobody is coming to anymore.

        Just admit you were reacting based on emotion and let it go. There is no way you can logically disprove anything I’ve said. It may not make me popular, but I’d much rather be hated than be a person who makes decisions based on emotion or decides to see the world through a wildly biased prism.

  9. @the bear here is a thought. Adam Lanza was mentally unstable and never taught respect for human life this father on the other hand is bonding with his son. Regardless of any disorder its my belief anyone can be taught respect for human life. So bear you can just comment moderated repeatedly.

    • How the heck do you know anything you just wrote for sure?

      That is a LOT of assumption.

      Like I just said above, we should all approach /everything/ through cold, calm logic. My dad taught me to shoot too and I cherish that just as many well-meaning posters here obviously do. I am not attacking that experience.

      I am attacking the assumption that everyone should be taught to shoot. If someone wouldn’t be trusted with a lawn mower by the time they are 13 and older, that child should probably not be taught to shoot.

      If someone will never be fit to obtain a driver’s license and drive a car, that person should not be taught to shoot.

      Just my .02.

  10. Fûck me I’ve seen it all know. Haven’t you lot had enough of kids shooting up schools? This kid could end up doing a Sandy Hook. Idiots

    • Did you learn nothing from bear? You were supposed to say “Not to sound like someone with below average intelligence with no concept what so ever about the motivations and/or cause of school shooters but…”

      I should have that kickstarter up soon.

    • Typical. Condemn a child years before he’s committed any crime. That whole innocent until proven guilty thing doesn’t play out with you bed wetter types, Pablo. You’ve never seen a civil right you would hesitate to stomp on.

      I’ll bet your mother’s proud of you.

      • Quite ironically I have done some bad things in my life simply because people always condemned me and didn’t want to give me a chance.

    • Pablo, your slurred low-born English grammar belies your pea-brained politics, so let me respond in terms your feeble mind might understand: Being the weekend of Patriots’ Day, “we lot” are celebrating the bravery and fortitude displayed in our Founding Fathers when they kicked the shite out of your fancy-boy, prostrated ancestors. Go give Piers Morgan a kiss and call us when your morally-superior country needs saved from yet another heavily-armed invading tyrant.

    • You, sir, are an asshole.

      I was contemplating more eloquent replies, but that really just sums it up perfectly.

  11. This is an awesome story! Thank-you so much for sharing it.

    I’d bet good money this episode has done more and will mean more to that boy (time with Dad, doing something FUN, conquering a former fear) than anything the ‘experts’ can do. Nothing against professionals trying to help, just mean sometimes it’s the seemingly little things that end up standing out.

    A friend of mine sustained pretty severe brain trauma from an IED in Iraq (he became my friend after the injury…I did not know him before). His initial prognosis was not good. The Docs told his parents he probably would not survive.

    His recovery has been remarkable. Truly, stunningly remarkable. One might even say miraculous. I’m sure there are a lot of angles to his recovery, but one thing *I* attribute it to is…

    He grew up hunting with his Dad. Hunting was his passion before he joined the Army. It remained so while in and before his injury.

    After his injury, his Dad found a way to take him hunting. They had special gear made and attended hunts in locations that accommodated his wheel chair and other means of getting around. I think it was, at least in part, the time spent with his Dad doing what he loved to do that aided in his improvements.

    Extrapolating this back to this story, I think that boy will ALWAYS hold the day described as a special memory. And I bet that smile was worth more than any money on the planet.

  12. 99% of special needs children, especially autistic kids. are NOT violent and are NOT a threat to society. And any lack of socializing is usually due more to bad parenting than whatever challenges the kid is facing. Being afraid of special needs children makes a person as much as a bigot as something who avoids all dark-skinned people because of some pre-conceived notion they’re dangerous.

    The father in this picture should be applauded for spending time with his son. Regardless of whether his son takes up the hobby of shooting or not, I guarantee you as a teacher and a father, a lot of modern America’s problems would be easier to deal with if we as a society did more to encourage fathers to be actively involved in their children’s lives.

    As for the jerk who compared this pic to Adam Lanza, you couldn’t be more wrong. Lanza’s father (Peter Lanza) has been interviewed numerous times (especially the New Yorker story) how he was no longer a regular part of Adam’s life and how his lack of involvement still haunts him today. Whether that’s the fault of Peter himself or Lanza’s mother, I can’t say… but I think it was something like Peter hadn’t seen his son Adam in over two years. Quite a different situation than this picture.

  13. I’m not a parent, never have been. I have worked in the mental health care field though, including with autistic individuals.

    While I understand that some people might be concerned, that fear is unfounded in my opinion. Fact is, we all gotta do the best we can with what we got. Autism, Asperger’s and other associated disordered do not, I repeat do NOT, predispose individuals to violence any more any more or less than the general human population. Sure, there’s always going to be a tiny number of people that may present a risk, but that’s the case with human society in general, as we all well know.

    Indeed the whole gun control shibboleth is based on this house of cards. Fear and ignorance are a very powerful, but wholly misplaced combination that wise people know to avoid.

    Come on folks, think positive. Feel free to disagree and question the picture if you wish, but as I said, that fear is misplaced.

    Tom

    • “that fear is misplaced”

      Thanks for your comments, Tom.

      One question: Based on your experience, do you think a boy like this is more or less likely to become violent against others with a firearm if he has positive instruction (safety and handling of guns as well as respect for life) from his Dad or without it?

      I would guess his Dad’s presence in his life AND the practical instruction he’s giving is beneficial. Some of the naysayers seem to be ignoring that influence and just how big it can be.

      • Statistically and subjectively both, less likely. First off, as I pointed out the statistical facts of the matter are that only a microscopic percentage of people, regardless of mental health, ever truly ‘go off the rails’ so to speak. It’s just not an issue except to those who want to use it as one. Trust me – I worked with many individuals who had LOTS of issues but out of the 200 or more I knew, probably maybe a dozen could have been considered a public risk – mostly due to severe or profound MR, rather than any psychological disorder. Even then that might be being generous – a person with severe MR is only a risk as far as safe firearms handling is concerned.

        Of course I think we can all agree that if a father teaches his son or daughter some measure of self-respect and responsibilty, then they will grow up to be safe and law-abiding gun owners themselves. Those who embrace the thug life, etc…probably won’t.

        Tom

  14. I wish the dad all the luck in the world. I have a special needs son who is in college now. If you don’t have a kid who is “different” you DON’T have a clue about anyone elses kid. I’m on the fence with this story. Hope it turns out OK. God bless the dad.

  15. That is awesome. I finally convinced my 12 year old daughter to go to the range with me today. It took a little bit of prodding but I finally got her to shoot my Ruger 22/45 (she has very sensitive hearing and loud noises have always bothered her). She had a blast and wants to go again. Maybe after a few more trips she will try the M&P9. Nothing is better than spending some quality time with your kids.

  16. Robert, my son has Asperger’s syndrome. One of the many varieties of Autism. He is a Boy Scout (Life age 13) who earned his Rifle Merit Badge last year with 5 near perfect targets.

    Active involent by dad’s with there autistic sons is key to there success. Stay strong through the tough times – it’s worth the effort.

    • Asperger’s doesn’t preclude a person from living a normal, productive life. They will just be misunderstood a lot and probably not have many friends.

      Comparing someone with Asperger’s to a more involved special needs child is like comparing apples and oranges.

        • Okay… please correct what I said that was wrong. I have friends with aspergers. Most of them are (unintentionally) very unpleasant people.

          I am always willing to be corrected with fact.

  17. Great story. It is so very hard to be a parent / care giver to a special needs person because it is an unrelenting 24 hours shift cycle, everyday of their life. So often partents struggle to find ativities that bring a special needs child out of the cacoon in which they live. For parents this is frustrating to the point of dispare and subsequent marriage failure. As I read the story, the father seemed to have a reasonable approach, with no particluar expectation; just a very controlled environment to experience something outside his comfort zone: now successfully prush further out. I see so many rude, stupid or bad comments by gutless people afraid to use their real name. Each of us need to make our children, grand children and those we encounter personally stronger and more capable by our interaction. To the dad I say, “well done that man, God Bless you and your family.” Greg

  18. I take offense to the people who say “special needs” people should allowed guns. I like the story am mildly autistic, ADD, dyslexic, and considered “learning disabled”. I to was scared of loud noises and didn’t like people I was unfamiliar with touching me. We I’m over 30 now and let me give you an update on my “special needs”, the autism I consider a blessing, the ADD I’ve over come or at the same level as most males at my age, the dyslexia I’ve over come and consider it a blessing, I can read forward, reverse, upside-down perfectly. I don’t meet many people who can read as quickly as me. It took a lot of practice to overcome. As far as the “learning disabled” I was told by teachers that I should look towards jobs in the retail and labor industries…..Well that pissed me off to no end. I did finish high school, but instead of going the suggested path, I enrolled in university. I finished my undergrad with two majors, then finished my masters in computer sciences and then finished another masters in mechanical engineering. Later in life when things slowed down I went back to school and got a doctorate in math & science(Computer Sciences). So for all the teachers who tried to push me towards mediocre can….well you know. I’ve personally loved seeing those same teachers later in life as a motivational speaker to special education students. The school administration loved my appearances(Free), but 80% of the special ed teachers hated me. I told the truth and they hated it. Afterwards I must admit it was gratifying to know that I put the special ed teachers schooling to shame. I almost forgot going on my wild tangent. I later like the article mentions became interested in firearms and my father too taught me everything he knew. I contribute the autism to my perfectionism in everything I do. I’m retired now “yes 32 years old” and spend my time gun-smithing and competition shooting.

    • Thank you for your story.

      I still haven’t change my opinion (as you yourself said you’re on the mild side of the spectrum and I mentioned in my posts above that I am not making any assumptions about the story itself).

      However, your personal experiences have made me feel I’ve been a bit closed minded on this issue. Thank you for that.

  19. Wow. Great story, and good arguments guys. I’ve pondered ever taking my son out shooting for a while. He is on the spectrum. While my good friends are easy to talk to about it, I am careful who I talk about guns around that know my son is spectrum. I have no fear my son will ever “snap”. He doesn’t have a violent disposition. He doesn’t understand the concept. I’m more scared of his respite care nurse “finding”(snooping around my stuff) my tool kit/reload stuff or a doc making claims that my house isn’t safe and protective services taking him. They don’t understand things like “combat loading” an empty shotgun and will probably have a melt down if they ever see my collection. Idk. I’ll continue to hide it for the time being. He too has an aversion to loud noises so like a good daddy i chase him with the vacuum and hope he gets over his fear. So far so good. He loves motorcycles and loud big trucks. he’s only 5 and I’m not rushing him. He’s an awesome fishing buddy and trail runner. He will run 2 miles if I let him, I just have to carry him back. I don’t think he will ever like hunting. He frowned last time i caught a grasshopper to show him and promptly threw it on a hook to fish. He’s an animal lover.

    Im of the school of thought that kids are like dogs. Raise them right and they will be fine. Bonding experiences with autistic kids are so much more profound. It’s hard sometimes to find a connection with these kids because they are so closed off to the world. Soon as a connection is found stick with it, nurture it. Thankfully mine loves the woods and fishing.

    When I think “mental health” i picture relatively normal folk with deep emotional issues and or history of violence etc. not a developmentally challenged person. Different category IMO.

    Just piggy backing on the story. It’s relieving to see more “super dads” in this community.

    • Excellent post.

      I wish more people took the time to write out what they really think than just put down one sentence zingers.

    • Thanks for that. Similar situation – my elder boy will be five this summer, and is on the spectrum. In some ways 100% “normal” but he has triggers that most folks wouldn’t expect. He has a temper (though he comes by it honestly), and it’s gotten a lot better in the last year or so. Right now he’s very into Star Wars and lightsabers, though he’s not quite up to speed on consequences (he thinks people will “break” like in the Lego Star Wars cartoons, to be reassembled later). He’s capable of very intense focus when something grabs his interest. After reading the comments in this thread and pondering a bit more, I think it will be a few more years before I think seriously about introducing him to shooting, and I will probably try him with archery first.

  20. My son has similar issues. Our first attempt at it didn’t go as well as yours and I’m jealous. He did ok, but the .223 was too much for him and he said it felt like people were punching him so we ended our session. I haven’t pushed the issue either.

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