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The video above shows a “gun safety” experiment with eight children. Two of the eight are from homes with legal firearms; children who’ve been familiarized with guns and taught not to play with them. Six are not. While it’s hardly a statistically valid sample, the kids from firearms-friendly homes didn’t pick up the gun. The other six did. So, do the antis have it backwards? [Click here to see the VPC’s “no guns for kids” agitprop.] Are children with guns at home safer than children without? I mean children who’ve been taught gun safety. Here’s my take . . .

There are some 400 million privately owned guns in the United States. Buyers are adding millions more to the private stock every month. Those guns are not going away.  For a child to be safe around guns, they have to be taught. Simply telling telling a child that guns are “bad” — or thinking that just because you have a “gun free” house or lock-up your guns your child won’t encounter a gun elsewhere — is dangerous thinking.

Remember: we cannot remove guns from society. Even if the Second Amendment was repealed and imposed total firearms confiscation, it would not remove guns from society. They are here to stay.

Teach your children the Four Rules of Gun Safety, or have a friend who is a gun owner do so. Do not expect ignorance — yours or their — to protect them. For that matter, do not expect ignorance about guns to protect you.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Gun Watch

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  1. Yeah. It’s not unheard of for some kids to find some gangsters problem solver lying around in certain areas.

  2. It’s not whether guns are in the home–it’s whether kids are taught safety the safety rules and the consequences of not respecting them.

    There’s no reason that parents who would never have a gun in their home cannot or should not teach kids real gun safety. Except ignorance. And political resistance to “normalizing” guns by talking about them like they’re *not* talismans of evil.

    • +1 more here. Not that it contradicts what you say, but I would add that the parent is still ultimately responsible*. They need to consider whether safety training is sufficient. And consider how that might change over time. I’ve been around 10 year old kids who have the self-control and maturity to not do something stupid as long as they are informed. I have also been around 20 year old “kids” I wouldn’t trust to touch a butter knife.

      *If someone breaks into my house, then into my safe, that’s on them of course.

    • the reporter did say that 2 kids were not interested in the gun. They were the two who have been around guns and have been taught to respect them. which is my philosophy with my girls. When they ask, I will download my firearm in their presence and let them handle it unloaded. They are not allowed to put their booger hooks on the bang switch and they are not allowed to point it anything living. I have also told them that if they (or their friends) find a gun outside, they are to not touch it (or let others touch it) and to go tell an adult.

      • When they ask….I will let them handle it unloaded” That takes the mystery away. My 5 year old grandson wasn’t interested at all when I opened the safe to show his father my new acquisition. He’s been familiarized, and he’s no longer curious.

        Come to think of it – his dad was trained by Eddie Eagle in a small, rural school. When HE was 5, he found his granddad’s Raven .25 in the nightstand. He closed the drawer, walked out to the living room, and announced that he had found a gun but not touched it.

        Yeah. Kids need to be trained YOUNG!

    • I disagree. How would you teach your child about firearm safety, if you don’t have a firearm to show them? You could get a realistic toy or bb gun, but that’s not a real gun. Regardless of how realistic it is, even a full replica with a plugged barrel, unless you get them to believe it’s real they will still be curious about “the real thing”. And if they encounter it in some other kid’s dad’s closet they’ll still be curious; “Is that a REAL gun? My daddy showed me how to handle them, but only on a fake one. Lemme see!”

    • Yep. I’ve seen this test in a similar context. It underscores the entirely logical value of teaching kids about gun safety. As a child my dad was very careful to teach me about guns at an early age. I distinctly remember carefully putting my bb gun on the other side before I climbed over a barbed-wire fence. I may have been 6 or 7 at the time. At age 8 or 9 I was hitting nickels with my .22. When you teach kids about guns at an early age, the guns become tools and not the fearsome, evil things that people who don’t know about guns typically believe them to be.

    • Yessir (or ma’am). About the stupidest thing you can do is underestimate the power of curiosity. Knowledge, and the imparting of, is the only weapon against it.

  3. Not just kids really. I recently started incorporating some basic firearm education into my self defense classes (teen and adult) for this very reason. Really, just covering the four rules and demonstration of proper handling goes a long way (again dealing with teens and adults). I’ve been consistently amazed by the lack of common sense when it comes to handling firearms by someone who is untrained.

  4. The kids that have firearms in the house and instructions ftom the parents left it alone. The children with no exposure or instruction played with it. WELL, DUH! The kid never taught not to run out into the street is the one that gets hit by a truck. If kids have no training/instruction how can they know proper and improper behavior?

  5. Me and my 4 year old went fishing yesterday. he doesn’t have the patience yet for fishing, so we brought his bb gun. I fished for an hour or so while he stood on the bank next to me and shot at turtles and sticks and whatever else with his bb gun. he know to never point it at people and to not cock it until he is ready to shoot. he knows when we get home it goes back in the safe. I don’t leave firearms out at my home, but if I ever did, I have confidence that my boy would know better than to touch them. firearms are normal to him and he understands that they can be dangerous. he however doesn’t have the forbidden fruit fascination that will get most youngsters into a bad situation because guns are familiar.

  6. Are kids safer in a single parent household?

    Are kids safer in a one story house?

    Are kids safer in a home on a busy street?

    Are kids safer in a home with a swimming pool?

    Are kids safer in a home with guns than they are from the time they get to the bus stop to the time the bus drops them off at the end of the day?

    Are kids safer in the mother’s womb?

    • As to the last one, there are cities where in certain racial groups a kid’s chances of making it out of the womb alive are less than 50%, so I’d say it’s probably the least safe place for kids to be.

      • I’d guess you’re being too subtle.

        IF they make it to birth ahead of them lies a gang and drive-by shootings. Don’t matter.

  7. I spent about 8 weeks study firearms safety education of school age children as a part of my Masters of Education degree last year. (Don’t worry, I was a shooter long before I was a teacher.) Here is what I found out based on the available scientific research.

    Eddy Eagle sort of works. Most kids learn the lesson, don’t touch, leave the area, tell an adult from one class. About a quarter of them will actually follow the rules from the. Most will follow those rules some of the time. Groups of children behave worse. Ten percent of children pick up the gun no matter what. What makes a difference is repeated rehearsal and practice of doing the correct action, i.e. not playing with, pointing guns or pulling triggers.

    Who would of thought (sarcasm, font) that practicing safe behavior with your parents who are firearms owners would make early elementary age children safer as opposed to teaching them nothing or to fear firearms?

    • I’ve told this story before, but I think it’s relevant to this discussion. I was once principal of a private school. One day, on a school field trip, one of my kids found a handgun in his bookbag. His brother had used the bag to go to a gun-range and had forgotten to remove his gun. On finding the gun, my student isolated himself from the other kids, told someone to get his teacher who collected the weapon for safekeeping. Turned out my student was from a gun-owning family, had learned about gun-safety from about the time he was a toddler. When faced with what could have become a real crisis, perhaps with someone getting shot, this thoughtful 14 year-old did everything right.

      • I am really happy to hear the situation was handled appropriately by everyone involved.

  8. My parents knew I liked guns as a little kid and was curious about the guns in the gun cabinet. So what did my dad do? He pulled guns out of the cabinet and showed me how they worked, how to keep them pointed in a sage direction, unload them etc. It was a curiosity anymore and I never messed with the guns until I got older. My sister received the same training when she was a kid.

  9. It’s a B.S. experiment to begin with. The gun was specifically included in a room full of toys. The kids were there to play, unsupervised. Their reasonable expectation there, even at their tender age, is that everything is fine and approved. If there’s any surprise or disappointment warranted, it is that so few children wanted to play with what they assumed was a toy gun.

    • Exactly. 8 kids, as already mentioned, is not a study. The structure of this minuscule observation was biased to begin with, as is much for what passes as legitimate peer reviewed studies these days.

    • I agree. I thought they’d plant the gun on the conference table or countertop or some “adult” place. Sticking it in the toy pile? The first kid nailed it. “I didn’t think it was real.” Kids aren’t that stupid. They see things in association. If that gun was elsewhere in the room (outside of the floor) I think it would’ve not been found, or handled less. Thats why we don’t keep the Tylenol next to the candy.

  10. When my kids were young enough to go to “play dates” and sleepovers, most parenting magazines told parents of the invited child to ask if there were “guns in the house.” I had one friend who did this. She quit when she was told that. “Yes, there were guns inside, locked in a gun case, but the bullets were in the attic.”

  11. I think we should do the same experiment above with a bottle of muratic acid, rat poison, electric drill, and a gasoline can.

    I think we’ll come to the same conclusion that (uneducated) kids will be safer in homes without these items than those that do have them.

    I think we would come to the same conclusion if we performed the test with kitchen knives, stairs, or swimming pools.

    But all those above are ok – right? Because they aren’t guns?

  12. My niece lives in a home with parents who don’t like guns. I babysit her. She isn’t old enough quite yet ( only 4) but when I feel she’s ready I intend to teach her the safety rules. I will, because I know her parents will not.

  13. Nothing “works” 100%, of course. There is inevitably a greater likelihood of a safe response in children who are taught good self discipline in everything else as well. And most likely in a home where parents consistently demonstrate good self discipline, of course. Children under the age of three or four are not emotionally or cognitively ready to absorb the concepts of self discipline very well, and should not be expected to perform this function reliably. So, it seems a no-brainer that children under four years old, however well trained, should never be left unsupervised… there are a great many things besides guns that can harm them. 🙂

    Training is excellent. Supervision of the very young is even more so.

    • Coming from a military back ground where fork lifts run into f18s and people blow the med bay out the side of the ship….I have to agree not everything is 100%

  14. My parents did not have guns in the house when I was a pre-teen (except for my toy guns), but my father knew and understood firearms. He taught me that (i) guns were tools, and (ii) I should never point a gun at anyone that I didn’t want to kill. He didn’t know the rest of the Four Rules or whatever they were called in the days before Jeff Cooper, so neither did I. But I did understand what he was saying.

    Some of my pre-teen friends lived in homes with guns because their fathers were deer hunters. They liked to show off their daddy’s rifles. They had even less training than I did. They would point a gun at me, but I would never do the same to them.

    Even a little training by a parent goes a long way. Then again, boys probably need a father for that.

  15. This “experiment” was set designed to have the outcome it had. The kids were under the assumption that these were all toys, and of course, they assumed it was safe to pick it up. This was designed to make parents emotional and fearful, and it worked.

  16. This is PRECISELY why I tell even anti-gun(well not anti-gun, but those who choose not to have a gun in their home… there’s a difference) friends that they need to teach their kids proper firearm safety.

  17. Hmmm…we had guns in the home when I was a kid. We were taught a little respect but it didn’t stop my brother from shooting me IN THE FACE with a blank at about 12. I could have been blinded. Never told dad. I guess I was beating up my(older) brother too much. No guns(except my Mother-in-law’s 38 for a few years) when my kids were little(including the 42 year old). I know THAT son is against guns in his house-ex-soldier/fudd too…teach your kids but keep a tight leash on ’em.

  18. It looks like the children that handled the “gun” presumed it was a toy, and since it was inert their presumption was demonstrated to them to be correct. Not good for future reference. Neither of the children that had gun safety training made any effort to correct the other children, nor to leave the area nor to tell an adult. This experiment doesn’t really prove anything, except it was a poorly designed experiment and the children with gun safety training weren’t that well trained after all. In fact it might have created a dangerous impression in the children who picked up the inert gun and “shot” other children that may come back to haunt everyone involved in another situation.

  19. If it’ll just save one life then kids should be taught safe gun handling in school. Start with pellet guns in PE and work up as the grades progress. By the time they graduate high school they should be profecient with rifles, shotguns and handguns.

    That’s bound to save at least one life. Well worth the effort.

  20. This is why I haven’t (yet) bought my kids any gun-toys. I don’t want to blur the line between toy and real. I want them to assume every gun is a real gun, and act accordingly.

    I let my kids watch me handle my guns, and am explaining and teaching as we go. But I don’t let them touch the guns (oldest is almost 5) and keep the rules simple. Don’t touch, leave it alone, get an adult and that end is the bad end.

    • Even as a child, it really was not too hard to figure out if the gun was real or a toy. Gun is heavy and made of metal and wood, Toy was light and made out of plastic or pot metal.

  21. I usually was not left alone when I was younger and instead shipped out to Grandparents farm where they knew I would be safe with all sorts of guns lying around the farmhouse. Okay by me.

  22. I believe if you convey the idea of how dangerous firearms are. Teach them the four safety rules and inoculate your childern to firearms. They lose the curiosity and desire to explore them. Then firearms become a everyday object the same as kitchen knives, the stove and a car.

  23. I was taught firearms safety when I was very young.

    But I knew that my dad kept the key to the gun cabinet on top of it. So one day when everybody but me was gone, I decided to see if I could tell the difference between the loaded and unloaded guns by looking down the barrels, business end first.

    Fast forward 30 years. I have my own guns. And I have kids. But the guns I keep handy for self-defense are locked away in safes that release with three button presses, and the rest are even more securely locked away.

    Never underestimate the foolishness of a child. Especially one where the apple does not fall far from the tree.

  24. Liberals claim that teaching kids about sex and STDs when they are young will keep them safe … yet they completely oppose the same methodology when guns are concerned.

    Their hysterical hoplophobia makes them hypocrites to their own teaching principals.

  25. Dumb experiment, as it was a setup, of course.

    Any adult who leaves a gun out, where a kid can get at it, should be locked up.

    Any parent who lets their kids play at a neighbors, without asking and confirming safe gun storage, first,
    should be locked up.

    Thats like letting your toddler go on a playdate where the backyard pool is unsecured.
    Or where kids allowed to play on the highway.

  26. I have fairly limited experience with young kids because I have none of my own yet. (With getting ready to go to grad school and a wife getting ready to go back to school to become a vet, we’re not having kids just yet).

    That said I do have some younger cousins and I will say this:

    This wasn’t a very good study for a number of reasons, but the fact that the kids who had gotten “the speech” and seen guns before didn’t touch the gun doesn’t surprise me. There is no mystery there for them.

    One of my cousins was in the Navy but her sister was never in the military. The Navy cousin’s kids know all about guns. One of them once found a Beretta 92FS outside. I want to say he was like 12. They didn’t follow all the “rules”, they picked it up, removed the mag, locked the slide to the rear and checked to make sure the chamber was clear before putting it back down, taking the mag and ammo with them and finding an adult to tell and give the ammo/mag to. My cousin and her husband could not have been more proud.

    The other sister then decided it was time to talk to her kids about gun safety.

  27. Anyone have any other source for the video, looks like the account was deleted….

    Wonder why???

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