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Here’s an inconvenient truth: firearm safety education saves lives. However, some people fear guns and don’t want anything to do with teaching their kids how to be safe around them. At the same time, others agonize over when to start teaching firearm safety with their kids. What’s the right time to start teaching your offspring to respect firearms?

Yes, prudent parents teach their kids gun safety (safey, not how to shoot). When, though. The simplest answer I’ve heard comes from a retired FBI agent. “When do you teach kids about guns? About the same time you teach them about hot stoves, electricity and fire.”  In other words, when you drown-proof your kiddos, gun proof them, too.

The National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program distills firearm safety for kids down to a few simple concepts:

2. Don’t touch
3. Leave the area
4. Tell an adult

This easy-to-learn, potentially life-saving protocol leaves politics at the door with one goal in mind: save lives.

The Eddie Eagle program has achieved proven results since its introduction in 1988, helping to educate over 29 million kids in firearm safety. It came about from the efforts of “educators, school administrators, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, clinical psychologists, law enforcement officials and National Rifle Association firearm safety experts.”

However, that doesn’t stop gun-hating civilian disarmament activists from despising the NRA’s safety program…and actively working against its common sense goal. Former Brady Campaign honcho Paul Helmke took shots at the NRA’s safety program . . .

[I]t would be wise to stop this misguided excuse for gun safety education in its tracks. The NRA dresses up its gun safety course in the guise of a colorful cartoon character named Eddie Eagle. Yet there is absolutely no evidence directly linking the use of the Eddie Eagle program to a decline in children’s deaths by guns.

Helmke quotes from the experts who compiled a Violence Policy Center “study” in his Huffpo screed . . .

“The primary goal of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program is not to safeguard children, but to protect the interests of the NRA and the firearms industry by making guns more acceptable to children and youth… The hoped-for result is new customers for the industry and new members for the NRA.”

Helmke wrote that anti-Eddy jeremiad shortly before leaving his job with Handgun Control, Inc the Brady Campaign, a group that, unlike the NRA and the NSSF, has no gun safety education program at all for children or adults, while claiming they’re “gun safety” advocates.

The NRA doesn’t do much that’s right any more, but the Eddie Eagle program is an exception that proves the rule. With or without Eddie, in the end, it’s up to good-guy gun owners to teach our children the basics of gun safety.

2. Don’t touch
3. Leave the area
4. Tell an adult

Make sure your kids know it as soon as they’re old enough to understand it.

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      • Eddie Eagle is Negotiating Rights Away.

        2 is a good age to start kids on gun safety. Regardless of what some bozo cartoon fowl says the real rules of gun safety are those taught by Col. Cooper and are the same exact rules taught to kids.

        • If you are not a gun owner, then you really can’t demonstrate that. Oh, well. Eddy sucks, so what can you do?

    • Did that with my son. I removed the allure of “forbidden fruit” by letting him see the guns and even handle them by asking. When I took them out of the safe I would show I was always checking first.

    • Yep. Early instruction about guns demystifies them. Generations of kids grew up with guns kept in closets and didn’t shoot themselves or other people simply because their dad’s taught them about guns when they were little. I was target-shooting with my own .22 as soon as I could hold it.

        • … looks like we are being suckered again by a three year old recycled posting !!
          If the seven year olds weren’t ready back then, they ought to be ready by now that they’re ten.

      • It’s called the NO touchy rule. Just like with any number of other things, that can cause them harm.

        • Even Adam and Eve failed the ‘no touchy’ rule.
          ‘No Touchy’ is fine when they’re exceptionally young but getting their grubby little hands on them (safely) and demystifying them ASAP is critical.

  1. I teach basic pistol and rifle to Scouts (boy and girl) eleven and up ever summer.
    I have taught some family members who were younger.
    The critical issue is when the understand danger, have the physical strength to manage the firearm and follow instructions instantly.
    P.S. Girls are much better students than boys.

  2. Teaching safety is a different then teaching them to shoot.

    Children at a very young age can understand not to play with real guns, not to handle them without permission.

    Teaching them to shoot then a lot of factors come into play.

    • Agreed. As part of my Masters in Education program, no kidding, I did a review of research in teaching the Eddy Eagle style safety to elementary age kids. The bottom line was 2nd graders and up could easily learn the Eddy Eagle type safety rules especially after three role playing practices. In test situations about 90% of kids would follow the don’t touch, leave tell an adult protocol if they were alone. About 70% would follow it in groups. Unfortunately 10% were going to pick up the gun and mess with it no matter what. They are the reason we must have gun locks and safes.

      • It amazes me that we still, so often, miss the points you raise. Teaching kids to say these ‘rules’ is not the same as teaching kids to do what the rules say to do. They are different behaviors. Role playing takes it much further, but still falls short, usually very short. The numbers you put out there seem a little high compared to what I recall with respect to the general findings regarding ‘doing’ following teaching ‘saying’, even when role playing is included. Now, consider how the compliance rate you put out there of ‘doing’ when in a group might drop when one, or more, members of the group push noncompliance even moderately.

        Don’t get me wrong, it is well worth doing the training with the role playing. But to make the training as effective as possible in a program like this, in vivo trials have to be done-We can’t fully learn to drive without actually driving. Unless ‘doing’ is ‘tested’ and feedback provided following failed ‘tests’ until ‘tests’ are passed with some regularity, fluency is far from certain. And, it is not really that difficult to go that extra distance. The non-compliance numbers can be cut dramatically this way. Of course, it is most likely to be less effective with kids’ parents who think the Eddie Eagle program is all their kid needs, and I am sure there are plenty of them.

      • The sample gun used for compliance testing should be a dummy rigged to give an electric dawg fence grade shock if handled.

        Consequence Training is important too.

  3. My opinion, the Eddie Eagle applies to _anyone_ that is not capable enough to handle that firearm type. I also think it applies to more than just firearms, eg a Democrat and political office.

  4. To take any curiosity out of them I always showed my dtr from 4 up that the gun was unloaded and let her handle them and keep them pointed in a safe direction, every new firearm that came into the house. Really cool having a 4 year old that demanded to be able to look inside the chamber with her own 2 eyes as it should be. It wasn’t some mysterious item of wonder anymore. It was something that she wasn’t allowed to touch, and ordinary household object. As a toddler when she was learning “hot”, she’d point to the stove and say “hot” she point to the locked closet the guns were in and say “no”. As she grew the collection and the storage techniques did too.

    If you’re child is interested, take them hunting. My daughter started sitting in the deer blind at 3. From 3 to about 8 hunting was kinda boring but she would sit quietly playing barbie on the floor until deer were in view. Now she’s ready to be on her own.

    From my experience with my daughter and my nephews-If Children see a deer or other game animal with bullet wounds they’ll better understand the mortality of firearms, and have a different respect for them than my 10 year old self did.

    • 1 to everything that Jeff the Griz said.

      I will add the following.

      Young children do NOT understand abstract concepts (e.g. the theoretical potential danger of firearms) — they must directly experience such concepts to fully understand them. That means you must take them out to safely OBSERVE a few shots with a firearm to absolutely cement the lesson that children must respect firearms. My protocol was simple:

      1) Child stands about 150 feet behind me (and I am aiming away from him/her) and hears one gunshot from a handgun (NOT a shotgun or centerfire rifle) without hearing protection.

      2) Child has hearing and eye protection, stands inside my arms and places his/her hands on back of/around my hands, and feels recoil from a single gunshot from a handgun.

      3) Child has hearing and eye protection, stands a few feet behind me, and observes me shooting a full water jug with a hollowpoint bullet from a handgun. The higher the bullet impact velocity, the better.

      Those three simple actions make it crystal clear to a child — even a young child as young as three years old — that firearms are serious business and are NOT toys to play with. You demonstrate and the child experiences what firearms do. At that point they are able to understand and will respect firearms without having to process abstract concepts — something which they are incapable of doing anyway.

      • The best firearms lesson I received from my father, was when he showed what happens when you shoot a head sized muskmelon off of a fence post. With a 22, then a shotgun. Something I used to teach my boys about the consequences of shooting at something. You had no intentions of killing.

        • Melons make excellent visualization tools. It’s a harmless (and fun) way to demonstrate the power of a firearm to a child.

      • uncommon –

        As a kid, I learned the power of my will when I used a BB gun at my grandfather’s farm.
        I took aim at a sparrow, perched in a bush. My aim was true, and I was surprised the target dropped to the ground.
        Upon inspection, the bird was head-shot, just as I had aimed. The bird’s left foot was raised to the point of impact.

        At that point, and at the young age of 14, I knew I had the power to kill. Since then, I only kill to feed my family.

    • +1 on having a “4-yr-old looking in the chamber with her own two eyes.” Awesome job, from one Dad to another.

  5. 1 STOP
    2 Don’t touch
    3 Leave the area
    4 Tell an adult

    Kids are never to young to learn what to do when they see a Democrat.

    • That list doesn’t tell you what to do when the democrat sniffs you- turn, knee it in the nuts (or whatever’s there) until the democrat leaves or is lying on the ground clutching said area.

      Then leave the area and tell an adult!

  6. Few things in life are more satisfying than watching my twin 11 year old girls test each other on a dueling tree with single shot bolt action 22s.

  7. I made one modification to the 4 Eddie Eagle rules. I added the word NOW to the last step, knowing what I do about how kids prioritize things. this also makes the first rule have one word, the second rule has two, third three and amends the last rule to have 4 words. An extra help in remembering.
    Don’t Touch
    Leave the area
    Tell an adult NOW.

  8. When they were old enough to understand, except for that red-headed step kid that is. I left guns out all over for that kid.

    OK, that’s a joke.

  9. I see this as a subjective question but generally the earlier in life the better.

    I’m not even seeing this as ‘the right question’ to ask though. Too many people are answering this with ‘never’. This is the very reason there is such an issue to start with. You may aswell be asking at what age to teach children that fire is hot and will burn. So many parents have not even been taught gun safety. How are they going to teach their children this?

    • Sad but true. And because about half the country thought Biden was the best choice, that’s a large pool of failure.

    • Thus lies one of the biggest problems.

      Never being introduced to firearms, then later in life being terrified of something you know nothing about, which leads to making up or believing false information about them which scares you more so you feel more strongly about keeping them away from everyone because its the only way you can feel safe about them.

      Add in movie special effects and extreme precision accuracy and it leads to the though of a handgun (or any weapon) as being the finger of God that eliminates people at will with no remorse.

      Truth of the matter is, good people don’t murder other people. Many other major factors have to come into play.

  10. My 4yo came home from school the other day, found the Eddy Eagle note in his backpack. Asked him what he does if he see’s a gun laying around. He aced the test. Asked him and my 7yo why, they both said because someone could get hurt or killed and only adults should touch them.
    So its working.

    But, I carry all the time, they know where it is, what it is, according to them its for bad guys and bears. But they’re only aware of it.

    There’s also a fine line that needs addressed. The, “what does it do”.

    Now, this is where its sketchy. Depending on the results you want.
    If you demonstrate the destructive power of a firearm to kids too young, they may fear guns for a long time. If you don’t show them early enough, they get curious as to WHY is it for adults only?

    I have had friends take watermelons out and a 12 gauge and show their kids the effects, it scares them, they don’t touch…. for years… well into adulthood.
    I also have relatives who’ve showed their kids how to shoot and the kids are now too liberal with them and are too care free.

    Personally I’m easing the transition, BB gun, stays in the safe, they know it comes out like any other tool, only when needed or to be used and I feel they’re doing very well. At 7 I would like my older one to be a little more into 22’s but hes a super cautious person so I’m not pushing him.

    Biggest thing to remember, kids are learners, they investigate, don’t set them up for failure.
    Also they’re still kids, no matter how much you think they are so well behaved they won’t touch your carry gun laying on the table, one day they just might.

    A friend of mine leaves his loaded pistol on the kitchen table, says his 5 kids are so disciplined they never touch it. I say, not yet…….

    • Never underestimate the stupidity of a group of ANYTHING… the collective IQ diminishes to approximately the square root of the number of participants.

  11. I don’t like the Eddie Eagle philosophy, and teaches the wrong message to kids.
    It’s fine for 4 or 5 year olds.
    By the time they are 7 or 8 the rules are:

    1 – keep you finger off the trigger until ready to fire
    2 – don’t let the muzzle cross anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3 – know your target and what is behind it
    4 – respect all firearms as if they are loaded.

    • This. That is exactly what I did with my boy. At 8 I transitioned him to shooting .22lr, now at 10 he got to fire one of my AR’s for the first time.

  12. My father was not a big gun guy but qualified expert with the 1911 in the Army. He owned a .22 Woodsman. At 8yoa my parents enrolled me at the local PD for the 12 week summer NRA safety and marksman class that was 30 minutes every Tuesday night @ 7:30. For 4 years. I learned to love to shoot. Their purpose was for me to respect firearms and imbed the best safety practices.

  13. As young as possible. Just like a hot stove. Kids don’t operate a stove until they have understanding. Historically children were taught how to tend a fire at a very early age. 5 to 7 years old. Same for guns as well.

    • I agree totally, I can’t even remember when I was taught gun safety, Must have been 6 or 7 years old. I was always around guns and was taught to treat every firearm as if it was loaded, no matter who handed it to you.
      Also muzzle discipline, never, ever, point a firearm, loaded or unloaded at anything you did not intend to destroy. Lessons that taught me well. I like being at the range alone, It scares the hell out of me seeing people handling guns at the range. There is nothing really difficult about handling guns, But then again there are some 18 year old should not pass drivers ED, they should start practicing with a wheel barrow. I blame the parents. .

      • The problem we have in the “Gun Community” is that the Liberals and the left removed 2A
        education and rifle teams from the public school system.

        And the gun Community as a whole didn’t give a damn.

        That is how we came to be in the situation that we are in now. Where the vast majority of the American population has never handled a firearm. Never actually seen a firearm. Unless it was on TV or it was in the possession of a government employee. A police officer or member of the military.

        And I would say if you only seen a police officer sitting in a police car not walking around, then you probably have never actually seen a firearm in person.

        Civil rights that are only exercised by a tiny minority of the population will eventually go away. Our population is already satisfied or comfortable with only government employees wielding firearms.

        The only way to grow the Second Amendment is to make sure that children are taught about it. As well as actually being given real Firearms to handle as they grow up. And the most efficient way to do this is in the public education system. But unfortunately the public school system has been broken for a very long time now.

        I know that a lot of us including myself have laughed at the NFAC. Who seem to not know how to handle their weapons. Including the John Brown Club. Both of whom seem to know very little about firearms. And the NFAC has had negligent discharges where people were hit by Bullet fragments and sent to the hospital.

        We can poke fun at the leftist gun owners, who are poor examples of firearms owners. However with millions of new gun owners in the United States this is not a good Trend at all. There are simply too many stories from gun sellers about new buyers who had to explain how to load their own weapon. What bullet caliber went in it.

        It’s actually very scary that there are now millions of new gun owners who are completely ignorant about a firearm. That is a recipe for disaster.

        Our country relies on the public education system to teach kids or even grown adults about the Bill of Rights. Everything except about the Second Amendment.

        For some weird reason education about Firearms is left up to private individuals. For a nation with well over 300 million in population, That makes no rational sense whatsoever.

        I don’t know how many Firearms instructors there are in the United States??? But let’s just say there are five or ten thousand scattered across all 50 states. You’re not going to fit several million brand new gun owners into the classes of 10,000 full time or part time Firearms instructors. Nor are you going to fit several million brand new gun owners on to, at the most, 1000 gun ranges scattered across the country.

        For some weird reason the “Gun Community” has come to believe that 2nd Amendment education should only be a strictly private non-public affair. That absolutely makes no sense when it comes to a basic human right and part of the Bill of Rights.

  14. I believe that it is necessary to talk to a child about weapons from the moment he went to school. He must understand what is good and what is bad. So that he would not be tempted to use a weapon. He need to be able to stand up for yourself without him.

  15. This simple-to-learn, possibly life-saving convention jettisons governmental issues one objective as a top priority certain individuals dread them and maintain that nothing should do with showing their children firearm well-being Favorable to Papers is one of those composing administrations that offer great free exposition tests and have a pleasant blog that will be of good assistance for most understudies They give reasonable help and generally convey their papers on time to get assistance with less complex undertakings; it very well may be a decent decision to consider.

  16. Daddy was Navy Rifle Team/Underwater Demolition Team (SEALS before there were SEALS).
    We learned to shoot and the basic principles of Gun Safety at the ages of six.It worked in 1961 and it still works today.

  17. What happened to the supressor article that was up earlier? I made a few comments and they posted, but when I tried to post another comment it vanished and this one appeared.

    • Gremlins Booger. And this a retread post from 3 years ago. All I got is when I was 10 or 11 my dad took us shooting to the local NRA range. It was the 60’s. No hearing protection. No eye protection. Shooting a nifty 22 6 gun & a 22 bolt rifle.

    • note for above video ….above is a live streaming that started several minutes ago from the time of posting.

  18. My kids are 5 and 3. They have nerf guns with no darts, PURELY for me to teach safe gun handling.
    Muzzle discipline, trigger discipline. I drill them continually on gun safety within the scope of nerf guns. They also know not to touch a gun with no orange tip.

  19. I let my 4 year old open carry an AR-15.

    She keeps a round in the chamber, safety on. She just started TK.

  20. There are some steps you can take to start teaching them very early – some suggestions to really PO anti-gun and radical liberals:

    When they are born, have available for them diapers with an MSR and Pistol pattern and an MSR mobile for the crib and a room wall pattern of all sorts of guns and the 2A printed on each wall in a large patriotic display and some outfits with guns printed on them.

    Pre school – when you start teaching them their ABC’s, read to them the Constitution and Bible also and have coloring books for them of clearly delineated men and woman using firearms.

    When they start preschool/kindergarten and through the rest of their school – don’t be afraid to send a clear message to the teacher/school by them having a backpack with a 2A wording patch and Gadsen Flag patch, and/or Constitution and/or American flag patch, on it with a clearly worded patch that states:

    For boys: “WARNING: I am a real biological male. if you try to make me think otherwise or try to make me agree or act that others are not their biological genders or try to include me in participation of ‘Pride’ month or display or show or present ‘Pride’ symbology or pornography to me at any time, my parents will bring hell down upon you and send you there earlier than you expected.”

    For girls: “WARNING: I am a real biological female. If you try to make me think otherwise or try to make me agree or act that others are not their biological genders or try to include me in participation of ‘Pride’ month or display or show or present ‘Pride’ symbology or pornography to me at any time, my parents will bring hell down upon you and send you there earlier than you expected.”

    And beginning in 1st grade: Have them show the rest of the kids at school the pictures of how well they shot on the range and be proud of it too.


  21. There is no “right time”.
    1) it depends on the kid
    2) there is a right time to BEGIN with each kid. The process then continues through adulthood.

    My daughters learned Stop, don’t touch, leave the area, tell an adult, when they were old enough to recognize a gun. I’m guessing 4 or 5.

    By 6 they were shooting their Savage Rascal under my close supervision.
    By 9 they knew how to do all the mechanical manipulations to load, unload, show clear and trouble shoot basic malfunctions common in .22s.

    Now in their early teens they continue to shoot to maintain a basic level of proficiency. One enjoys shooting and really enjoys shooting her .22 at distance. Just this week we set up at 166 yards where she proceeded to clear a rack of 12 oz beer cans as well as a number of pieces of 3″ steel.

    The other isn’t really into it but understands that a certain level of proficiency is necessary for her to use a firearm for armed self defense in the home.

    We live most of the time sadly in a state where allowing them access could land me in jail. But when we are spending time in our home in a “free” state, they have full access. As they should, since they are better trained than 95% of most gun owners.

  22. As early as possible is the answer. Both my girls were immersed in environment to learn about firearms by the time they were about 4. I used an old pellet gun that had died years earlier as a prop to do the job. That way it looked just like the ones I carried, but in no way were they dangerous. I’d lay them all over the house, in places the kids had to walk by to get up the stairs or on the kitchen table etc and then plant myself far enough away to watch the event and see how they reacted. By the time they were 6 they were better educated on firearms safety than half the country. All that having been ingrained into them, my oldest is now 22 and has two handguns. One she carries with her, the other she keeps in her safe at home. My youngest is 20, to be 21 in 2024. And at that time she’ll get a handgun as well.

    I sat them both down before I did all that testing, and told them both that they could ask me anytime to see or handle the weapons and I would show them. They asked a few times over the years, mostly when I had something new. But they always knew what was appropriate and what was not when it came to firearms. If everyone taught their kids that way, 90% of these problems would disappear.

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