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I used to speak to kids at school assemblies. I talked about the importance of staying in school and looking both ways before you cross the road. OK, it wasn’t that boring. Especially during the question and answer segment. I segued into that section like this: “Well, boys and girls that’s all I have, I’ll open the floor to questions. But let me get the first few popular questions out of the way. One. Yes my gun’s real. Two. Yes I’m trained to use it. And three. No, I’ve never shot anyone. Yet.” Did that stop them from asking about my gun or police guns in general? Of course not . . .

No matter what the age or sex, the kids were captivated by my sidearm. They wanted to know everything about it. I was more than a little apprehensive about discussing my firearm and role of firearms in policing. Some parents consider talking to their kids about guns as personal as discussing the birds and the bees. God forbid I’d advocate civilian gun ownership. That’s something I could have only done once.

That’s because a lot of gun and non-gun owning parents put a cone of silence around the whole “issue” of firearms. They believe if they don’t mention firearms to their kids they (the guns) don’t exist.

They know their kids watch TV shows and movies with gun-wielding good guys and bad guys. They happily buy their children Call of Duty or let them play with NERF guns. But the real thing? No way. They either lock their guns away out of sight or simply pretend there’s no such thing in “real life.”

It’s a law enforcement conundrum. Firearms are an important part of who we are and what we do. We want the community to know and understand how we use firearms. Our rules of engagement. Our training. We want them to understand that firearms are a tool for public safety, and that we take the responsibility of carrying a deadly weapon seriously.

But there’s no getting around it: teaching children about one of the most important tools of our job is a losing proposition. A PR nightmare. As the Santa Rosa Police Department’s SWAT guys discovered, when members of the public protested that basic, safe and responsible familiarization was tantamount to “promoting” gun use for children. I wish I could say it was a California thing. But as I said above, it isn’t.

I wish the police could [safely] demonstrate their weapons to children. I wish we could talk to kids about the Second Amendment. I wish we could train young men and women in the safe storage and use of firearms. (Note: some police departments do.) It would do wonders to increase respect—in both directions. But we can’t.

So it falls to parents to introduce their children to firearms. From Eddy the Eagle to range time with your kids, do what it takes to make sure they learn proper firearm safety. And if you see a cop with your kid, don’t be afraid to discuss firearms. We can’t let you touch our gun, but we can talk about it. And the more we talk about guns, the safer we’ll all be. It’s a start.

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  1. I have no issue with police showing their guns to kids, explaining how it fits into their job, etc, or even how to safely handle/store them.
    I just think that to an immature mind, the gun is the first thing they identify with police, and I would think/hope that an officer that stops by a classroom makes sure that the students know that he/she is there to help keep the peace. That if an officer must draw and/or use their weapon, a lot of things have gone wrong up until that moment.

  2. “And if you see a cop with your kid, don’t be afraid to discuss firearms.”

    If I see a cop with my kid I would more likely ask “What is the problem , officer?” or more likely “I don’t have any kids. This must be a nightmare!”

  3. I have to disagree with this blog post. Children should absolutely be exposed to firearms in school; the institution of public education is, after all, the government’s first form of training for the unorganized militia.

    We should teach our kids the safe and proper handling of firearms as a normal course of instruction, just as we teach them about the safe and proper handling of automobiles, chemicals, sex…


    • In junior high school (early 70’s) I had a class called outdoor leadership or something like that. One part of the class was devoted to firearm education. In fact, after the semester we were given a certificate which allowed us to get our “Hunters Safety” card – a requirement to get a hunting license in Colorado. Great class and I wish it was still part of the State’s education program.

  4. I must of missed it somewhere along the way. I have read the Constitution several times over the years. Everytime I re-enlisted I swore an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States …’ I figured re-reading it periodically would be a good thing. No where does it say we have the right not to be offended. So where does this perception come from? Did I miss the memo when I was deployed?

    If someone was unhappy their child was near those evil (eeevviiiiillll?) killing things, why not take the child by the hand and just walk away. Go look at something else. It will make room for those who want to look. It is not illegal. Not everyone will agree with your point of view. So get off your soapbox, go home and STFU.

  5. Cops showing kids guns,sure but not like this

    Cop:”I am the only one in this room professional enough to carry this Glock 40″ …~”BANG!” (He shot himself in the leg while re-holstering his weapon)

  6. Respectfully, I disagree. Whoever got the vapors from this incident should be told in a firm manner to get over it. It is not a losing proposition. It is just moving the middle point of the issue to our sid eof the ledger. The police were not telling these kids to arm themselves. They were taking the mystery away from the firearms and hleping them understand the role of law enforcement in our society. Don’t like it…. move to Great Britian. Enjoy the fires and looting.

  7. I don’t know about the schools you went to, but I spent my share of time talking up security guards, teachers, and other students about guns. As part of a program in my junior year we even took a few army hand me downs circa 1965 and we each got 11 rounds a piece. In college, I remember chatting up an Africana studies professor about how the .357 magnum’s prevalence in LE and federal agencies is believed to be rooted in race relations and views on drug use in the early 20th century. This is education! This is the exchange of ideas and information!

  8. The title is a little misleading; I thought I’d be reading a diatribe against evil guns when I clicked on this article rather than, seemingly, an opinion of frustration in the limits of common sense education in liberal lands.

    The simple fact is, victims breed victims and ignorance breeds ignorance. Children raised in liberal (victim) households will grow up to be tomorrow’s criminal victims. Their parents’ ignorance of self-defense and firearms will carry over, and since their only education in regards to guns will have been through movies/games, they’ll be clueless around guns and much more likely to kill themselves or another accidentally. I applaud what the police tried to do, and though I still say the parent should be the last word for their children and not the government, let’s face it…there’s a huge base of parents out there totally unfit to raise children, infecting a new generation with their insanity.

    So there will always be victims and there will always be obliviousness. Personally, I’d rather my children learned about firearms from me rather than Call of Duty.

    • Great generalization. My kids have grown up in a “liberal environment” if you can call being encouraged to think for yourself that. In no way are we or they “victims.” They have grown up around firearms and know how to use them. You are the one who needs to pull your head out and get a clue.

  9. Officer Fusaro touches on an important point here. We all may think guns are morality-neutral (or even moral), but there are those who disagree. Some people think guns are evil. They have that right.

    I don’t want a school or other institution teaching my kids about sex. That’s my job, because my wife and I believe sex comes with a moral dimension, and the schools do not respect that view, nor should they have to. It becomes fraught with too many problems of a pluralist society.

    So I guess it comes down to the Golden Rule here. I don’t want other parents forcing their brand of sex ed or civics or “religious education” on my kids. I won’t force them to accept guns. I’ll teach my kids and any other kids whose parents consent. Heck, we have a UU peacenik in our Scout troop — and he’s a crack shot!

    • I think the problem many of us have is not with other people having opinions (after all, we wouldn’t be good Americans if we tried to silence opposition), but rather the fact that most anti-gun people try to legislate their opinion and force it on all of us, going against the Constitution. You have a problem with school-taught sex-ed (which I understand), so what would happen if there became governmental legislation that made it illegal for you to teach your child about sex instead of school (far-fetched, but it’s just a concept comparison)?

      As soon as someone tries to make their opinion law, particularly when it goes against basic guaranteed rights, it stops being an opinion and starts being a threat.

      This may stray from the dilemma in the article, which is mostly about opinion and perhaps just rustles our feathers, but figured I’d mention it.

  10. The police weren’t teaching the kids about guns. The cops were instead teaching the kids about police. In the neighborhood where I grew up, a lot of kids became cops, and a lot became crooks. Maybe it’s the same in Santa Rosa. If so, there will be plenty of drug dealers who will be happy to display their wares to the children. I’d like to think (hope) that the police beat them to it. But, hell, if their parents don’t give a sh!t, why should I?

  11. No problem with police letting kids handle their firearms. Most kids are already aware of firearms either from movies, videos, enviorment, home, news
    I allowed my son and now his kids to handle my firearms whenever they asked. Middle of dinner with fork on the way to my mouth, Dad/GPA can I see “pick a gun” I would put the fork down, take it out of the safe and let them handle it. You tell a kid NO an they will find away to get to it. Take the “mystery” out of it.
    My 8 year old grandson has thumbed through my firearm magazines for years and depending on the photo would ask if I had one like it. If I did own one I would show it to him and give him the talk that they were not toys, trigger and muzzle control and don’t aim it at anything you don’t want to kill or destroy.
    Last Christmas I bought him a Red Ryder and we have worked on all the above safety rules.
    This week we went to the range where he fired my Ruger Single Six, 10/22 and Mark II. All were loaded with one round at a time until I felt comfortable that he wouldn’t discharge multiple out of control rounds.
    End of session I fired my Colt 1911 for function check, he asked to try it. I handed it to him with no mag, cleared twice, slide locked back and pointed down range. “Thats too big for me” another good decision
    Looking forward to next question and range time.

  12. As long as you continue to wilt away from your rational, reasonable, and entirely appropriate desire to educate, in favor of capitulating to the emotion and unreasonableness of the hoplophobes things will never improve.

    You, unlike many others who are not in law enforcement, have a degree of credibility, and can command enough respect to begin to sway the public away from the ignorant and misguided anti gun crowd. But only if you are willing to stand up for what you believe in.


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