Gun Save Life youth kids nra camp
Courtesy Guns Save Life
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By Thomas E. Gift, MD

Finally, a researcher whose work seems to support, rather the attack, Second Amendment rights. David Schwebel, a psychology professor, and his associates describe a training program to improve children’s ability to safely deal with guns. Perhaps surprising to those who read academic studies regarding firearms, they imply that children’s exposure to firearms is not unusual and may have positive consequences, such as becoming integrated into family activities as well as sports like hunting and shooting.

The researchers have obtained a large research grant to teach children, in a number of ways and in several settings, skills to reduce the likelihood of misuse of guns. Techniques will include newly developed video games and tasks to teach patience.

They will also use “peers” — in reality child actors — to present realistic stories about the dangers that accompany unsafe firearms practices. The program participants will be girls and boys between 10 and 12, of diverse ethnicity.

In this report the researchers say little about how these “peers” will be chosen. Presumably, they will be slightly older than the participants. Having once been a 10-year-old boy myself, I wonder how effective it might be for such a participant to hear a story about guns told by a slightly older girl.

A strength of their plan, as the authors suggest, is that it acknowledges that in many households, especially those in more rural areas, telling and teaching children about guns is part of one’s upbringing and, I would think, no different than teaching safety regarding swimming or bicycle riding.

kids father son shooting train rifle learn to shoot
John Boch for TTAG

Professor Schwebel’s interest in enhancing the safety of children around firearms without infringing on the right to keep and bear arms is commendable. Unfortunately, he is an outlier.

Project funding comes from the Centers for Disease Control. It’s good to see tax dollars used to reduce firearm accidents through teaching children about firearms, rather than by infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

Recent legislation attempts to nullify previous restrictions on the use of tax dollars to fund studies promoting gun control; it appears that Professor Schwebel’s research is being paid for with money allocated in 2019.

kids target shooting learn to shoot training
GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

More information about the project is provided by the University of Alabama:

“Our intention is to design a website that teaches children how to engage safely with firearms to reduce risk for unintentional pediatric firearms-related injuries and deaths,” said David Schwebel, Ph.D., director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab and principal investigator. “The website will deliver messages through the internet, a technological medium today’s children prefer learning in. It also will incorporate brief messaging to parents, who will absorb key lessons and reinforce them with their children.”

ShootSafe extends existing programs to achieve three primary educational goals:

  • Teach children the knowledge and skills they need to hunt, shoot and use firearms safely;
  • Help children learn and hone the critical cognitive skills of impulse control and hypothetical thinking needed to use firearms safely; and
  • Alter children’s perceptions about their own vulnerability and susceptibility to firearms-related injuries, the severity of those injuries, and their perceived norms about peer behavior surrounding firearms use.”


Thomas E. Gift, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Rochester, New York, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical School, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Just like I’ve always said, education.

    We educate children about sex, drugs, rules of the road, safety around and in the water, but some parents just want to pretend firearms don’t exist in their world and their children shouldn’t know about them.

    And the results are tragic.

    The NRA has had a program for decades to teach gun safety, Eddie Eagle. Not even a program to propagandize, just teach safety. And the Karens of the world shriek and run away.

    • Calling yourself a libertarian and supporting public education is rather confusing to me???

      Private Christian Schools are not teaching their students about sex, drugs, rules of the road, and water safety. They don’t have time for that. Most don’t have the money for a swimming pool. Like government schools do. They’re teaching students about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.
      And a 2A education is very important to their parents. Which is why at some gun ranges you will see kids everywhere. On a normal school day. Like I have seen.

    • I am all for education, sometimes it sticks. Playing the devil’s advocate, how is childhood education about sex, drugs, rules of the road, safety around and in the water working out?
      Kids are going to do what their emotions lead them to do in many cases. If education saves one life from a ND, it is a great idea. There really is not a downside, but OMG!, teaching children about guns?!!!!!!(sarc)

      • Well all I can tell you is that homeschooling Christians have won the National Spelling Bee going back 20 years I believe. They’re also winning most of the mathematical contests as well. And homeschoolers are entering 4-year colleges. With the highest academic entry exams. And they have never set foot inside of a government School in their life.

        Just like the left doesn’t want to talk about black on black crime. The left doesn’t want to talk about the poor performance of government School students.

  2. Maybe now that the Left is trying to rehabilitate children by saying they’re smart enough to vote — after implying they weren’t mature enough to obtain their own health care insurance before the age of 25 — maybe now they’re willing to concede that they’re okay with supervised handling of firearms. I was able to learn firearms safety and to hunt big game when I turned 10 years of age. I’ve been a marksman for the past 59 years, without ever shooting someone or using a firearm to commit mayhem in the community. The NRA was very thorough in teaching all five of us kids to become certified safe, after Dad first taught us all the safety rules and taught us how to aim a rifle and to shoot a shotgun. And I taught my own children the same lessons.

  3. Teach your children well. If they respect firearms and treat them responsibly, they may become responsible adults. But whatever you do, don’t trust others with your kids’ mental health and growth.

  4. We tend to romanticize what we haven’t personally experienced. And we can romanticize positively or negatively. And youth being rebellious in general, they’ll be attracted to whatever adults try to keep them away from.

    Taking a kid hunting, letting him see up close what damage a gun can do to wild game, will teach more about gun safety than weeks of classes. By dispelling the romanticism, instilling respect, making it real. After that, safe handling practices are learned matter of course.

    • Not to mention cleaning the gun after use. It becomes one more chore and takes the mystic out of it.

  5. This video may still be somewhere on Youtube. Two kids about 10 years old or so are shown into a white room. On a table is simi-automatic pistol. One kid has grown up around guns and knows about gun safety. The second kid has no experience with guns, was raised in a non-gun family, etc., etc. On seeing the handgun, no-gun kid is fascinated, announces that the handgun is “cool” and rushes over to pick it up and wave it around pretending to shoot at things. The grown-up-around guns kids tell the no-guns kid to stop playing with a gun that might be loaded. There’s some back-and-forth with no-guns kids insisting on playing with the
    “cool” handgun. Gown-up-around-guns kid says, I’m out of here. And leaves the room. The video says a lot about why kids should be educated about gun safety. Too many “gun deaths” are caused by uninformed no-guns kids playing with loaded weapons. That said, just try and explain this truth to gun-controller parents, most of whom have, themselves, never been taught gun safety much less how to shoot.

    • +1

      Teach them well to respect guns as what they are. Remove the mystique and the “curiosity factor” doesn’t take over their minds and hands when they see an unattended gun later.

      • Did that with my son. He knew what guns were by the age of 2. Before that he knew what guns could do thanks to R Lee Emery’s LockNLoad TV show. Watermelons are a very graphic demonstration.

  6. I know people don’t like it when I talk about history but here it is.

    Unfortunately in California it was proud homosexuals like Tom Ammiano who got himself elected to the San Francisco School Board. With the sole intended purpose of destroying the high school rifle teams and the 2A education that went on in the San Francisco School District. Later in his political career he would write the law making rape victims and stalking victims wait an extra 10 days to get a gun in the state of California.

    Most high schools across the United States had some form of 2A education. And they nearly all had rifle teams. Many schools even had gun ranges on school property. But those were replaced with classes about how to put on a condom. Or how to swallow without gagging.

    And most of the adults who advocated for the removal of 2A education and rifle teams from the public schools had no children at all. Nor did they have any interest in having children.
    It has been a goal of the Progressive Movement to destroy the Second Amendment for well over 100 years.
    The Boy Scouts made 2A education one of their primary missions. And the Liberals and the Left hated the Boy Scouts as well. Because they were a Christian group. You could even get a merit badge in “being a better Christian”. As well as earning a rifleman badge.

    • That’s how I got started — earning my Rifleman merit badge and taking a hunter’s education course as a Boy Scout at age 12. I hated almost everything about Scouting (although in hindsight I’m glad I went through it, as I learned a lot), but loved every single second of learning to shoot. Spent every free minute at the regional scout camp at the rifle range.

      Didn’t pick up a firearm again for years after that…decades, even…but the lessons stuck, as did the great memories. Ten years ago I bought a .22 rifle and taught my kids to shoot, and it’s been a central part of our family life ever since.

      It’s no surprise that the left, with its rabid hatred of Christian values, the nuclear family, and the very idea of self-sufficiency, has infiltrated, crippled, and destroyed something that taught those values to young boys.

  7. “Having once been a 10-year-old boy myself, I wonder how effective it might be for such a participant to hear a story about guns told by a slightly older girl.”

    It’s possible that 10-year-old me wouldn’t have felt any different, but it’s high time to set things right.


  9. teaching children about guns is something that has been done throughout American history something that I learned at an early age just as my children got but not all my grandchildren have had that advantage to have but that is what all children need also they need to learn the good sportsmanship like do not shoot anything you are not going to eat unless its a danger to you

  10. It’s in reality a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.|

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