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Wait…first there’s a reasonable column about guns in the Washington Post and then CNN runs a piece that shows responsible parents and adults teaching kids as young as five how to shoot safely? On the same day? What kind of upside down, bizarro-world is this we’ve happened upon? Best segment from the CNN vid: interviewer Gary Tuchman asks Okeechobee Shooting Sports owner Jeff Wait if there isn’t something inherently dangerous in a tyke pulling the trigger on a firearm. It was probably a question he hoped would be a gotcha moment. Wait’s answer: “It’s only as dangerous as the person that’s doing it with them.” So…good training techniques and rigorous attention to safety mean a good time is had by all. Who knew?

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  1. My guess? CNN was hoping for a gun guy to say something along the lines of “No, children should never ever shoot firearms and the people in Arizona are all batguano bonkers.” Instead, they got this, and having a deadline to fulfill makes even the most anti-gun journalist lose their moral compass.

    • Their online presence still has a poll up(bottom right of the website), asking:

      “Should children be allowed to learn to shoot guns under adult supervision?

      (As of 9/3/2014 – 5:49pm central)

      NO – 51% – 700 votes
      YES – 49% – 686 votes

      “This is not a scientific poll” … But it might be rigged :-/

      • Or, it being CNN is already pulling from a biased pool of respondents not representative of an accurate cross-section of America.

      • I started shooting at 5 years old and most of my relatives learned about the same age. I really don’t understand people’s fear of allowing supervised children to learn how to shoot. The 9 year old with the Uzi was a tragic but an extremely rare occurrence. It almost never happens and multitudes of children learn to shoot year after year without injury.

        • And at 5, you probably started on a Cricket, or some such.

          Had you graduated to full auto Uzi’s in 4 years?

          I have no problem with kids learning to shoot early and often, but this thing was a cascading shitterfall of moderately poor decisions that culminated in a man’s death and his friends and family will have to deal with that every day.

          And a girl and her family will have to deal with it every day, too.

          Nobody here made a choice that I, personally would call out for being dangerously reckless. Would I let a 9 year old girl shoot that gun? Depends on the kid, but almost certainly not.

          But I’m also sure it happens every day without incident. Like I said, this is the cascade effect writ horrible.

          I shudder to think how the parents must be feeling right now. Talk about the world’s worst second guessing game.

  2. I was 13 or 14 before I learned to shoot. It was at a summer camp with a 22 single shot rifle. the camp “Daddy” took the gun and loaded it each time we shot, wouldn’t let us insert the cartridge.
    My first rifle, a Mossberg 152M simiauto. bad choice for a beginner, should have been a bolt, lever, or pump.

  3. Too bad more people just linked on the video from this website already than watched it when it aired on CNN. Maybe if they keep it up things will turn around, though.

  4. As an update, ABC is milking the Uzi girl incident for all its worth and how now there is a “huge debate raging” on the age kids can shoot guns.

  5. Mind blown.

    The “Stop don’t touch leave the area tell an adult” is an NRA practice started years ago…ya know, the organization supposedly just there to help gun companies make money? How about that… Good to see these kids learn safety.

  6. First, thanks for all the kind words about the piece. I have to tell you that the reporter (Gary) could have bent the story any number of ways based on a few things the girls and I said during our 1.5 hours with them. For instance, in my interview I accidently called it a weapon rather than a firearm or gun a few times… My mistake but he could have used that to make us look extremist… but chose not too because he understood it wouldn’t have been representative or kept the issue itself front and center.

    This guy was a true professional journalist who reported the facts in a balanced way and left it to the viewer to form their own opinion. I just can’t say enough good things about the fair way in which he approached the whole thing… Full of integrity and never made any promises that he might not be able to keep. I still can’t tell if he was a gun guy or not because of how naively and openly he approached the whole deal. I guess when you’ve been in the sandbox twice and covered Haiti it’s easy to not fear new things and approach it openly.

    Lastly, Eddie the Eagle is from the NRA and I play the fuzzy YouTube video for my girls about once a quarter and we all sing it. Problem is they sell a CD of it only, the YouTube version is low quality, and the CG animation is some of the worst out there. The voice track and music is still really catchy. Wish someone with a passion for animation would redo the thing (as a parody) using the same soundtrack and storyboard… Or fund the NRA to rework it and distribute it for free on all video platforms. TTAG kickstarter project anyone?

    Thanks again and get out with some kids (even if not your own) and shoot! Or volunteer for NSSF First Shots program to help that way!

  7. This range isn’t far from me. It’s a nice place to shoot. A few friends of mine rented a few bays and had a picnic there. Will, who is mentioned at the two minute mark and whose girls are quoting Eddie the Eagle, is someone I know and is a very respected gun trainer.

    Good story.

    • One small correction that those were my little darling girls (who wouldn’t claim them, right?), not Will’s. He has his own set of cuties and is by the way an excellent trainer of adults also.

      • Oops. I thought they were Will’s. Two things: 1. Good job with the girls. 2. You are absolutely correct. Will is a great guy and a great trainer. All the women I know who have trained with him tell me that he is one of the best instructors for women in the state.

  8. Parroting a line drilled into them by a cute character is one thing and good. Heeding that advice in practice is something else and much better.

    After all, a great many shooters, including police officers and professional firearms instructors, are well familiar with the Four Basic Rules of Firearms Safety. However, some of them, including police officers and professional firearms instructors, occasionally commit a negligent discharge, sometimes resulting in injury or death.

    As per usual, Shakespeare said it best, this time in “The Merchant of Venice”:

    “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.”

    That said, whether parents want their child to become a firearms enthusiast, or whether a child is even interested in firearms, at all, is beside the point. What matters is that parents acknowledge the realities and risks of firearms, as they do those of swimming pools, street crossings, strangers, and household appliances and utensils, among others, and equip their kids with the training to negotiate them effectively.

    • I actually agree with everything you said Jonathan. And my little girls (seen in the video) get tested from time to time when I leave an empty firearm where they can see it (but generally not touch it). I then watch them around the corner to see how they process things and if they follow Eddie’s advice or not. This started when they were three with a black paper cut out of a gun that I would leave on the floor down the hallway. Not to see they won’t eventually go against their training in these tests, but so far they’ve done the right thing. Of course my guns are all put up in a safe otherwise.

      There are other things parents can do away from firearms also to drill into them that a gun is dangerous when used wrongly… the same way words are… the same way a reckless driver is… and how bullies use their strength/size for bad rather than good. In short, if you wait until children are old to help them understand every choice has a consequence (good or bad), then you’ve already failed. So I’ll reemphasize your wisdom that “What matters is that parents acknowledge the realities and risks of firearms, as they do those of swimming pools, street crossings, strangers, and household appliances and utensils, among others, and equip their kids with the training to negotiate them effectively.”

      • Sounds like you have it under control. And that’s an excellent point about people mistakenly waiting too long to address some topics, like firearms. That’s been touched on before in some articles I’ve seen here, but it’s so important that it merits revisiting from time to time.


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