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Lola was enduring Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln; a scene where the President attends a play. “Can someone just shoot him now so I can go home?” Lola whispered. Needless to say, Lola wasn’t serious. Hello? Lincoln is a movie. O.K. it’s also a form of torture forbidden under the terms of the Geneva Convention. Be that as it may, Lola knows a thing or two about guns. In fact, we recently struck a bargain: I’ll learn how to knit if Lola learns how to shoot. Meanwhile, after raising my fourth daughter from nappies to the cusp of double digits, I’ve figured out the three things every child needs to know about guns . . .

1. Never point a gun at someone you don’t want to shoot

I know: there are four safety rules. But I reckon three of them aren’t suitable for young children.

“Treat all firearms as if they’re loaded” is too vague. “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot” is too little too late. “Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it” is a fairly complicated concept that implies your kid is shooting without adult supervision.

Instructing your child to “never point a gun at someone you don’t want to shoot” focuses their mind on The Mother of All Safety Rules: muzzle discipline. If they follow this rule they can’t shoot someone by accident—unless a negligently discharged bullet somehow finds its way to the wrong person.

This rule also allows for the possibility that there may be someone your child does want to shoot. As in needs to shoot. To survive. Someday. IMHO it’s never too early to introduce the idea of armed self-defense, however theoretically.

Obviously, the “never point” rule isn’t the be all and end all of gun safety. “Don’t play with guns” goes a long way towards ensuring your kids don’t play with guns. (D’uh.) A parent shouldn’t give a child independent access to a firearm until they’re four rules trained, responsible and ready.

That said, it does happen; children get a hold of guns without adult supervision. Which can lead to terrible, almost unthinkable tragedy. Which is why rule/lesson number two is . . .

2. Never let a friend point a gun at someone that doesn’t need shooting

Fans of the Eddie the Eagle will take offense at this stricture. The NRA’s mascot teaches kids who encounter a gun (when there’s no adult around) to “STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.”

Fair enough. But what happens if one of your children’s friends is playing with a gun?

If your kid’s pal already has a firearm in hand, can your sprog resist peer pressure, run away and rat them out? A simple declaration—“Don’t worry it’s not loaded”—could stop them dead in their tracks. So to speak. “Whatcha gonna do, tell your Mommy?” Worst of all, “You run away and I’ll shoot you.”

Yes, there is that.

The “never let a friend point a gun at someone that doesn’t need shooting” rule/lesson guards against a huge danger: other kids’ stupidity. More than that, it teaches your child to take an active role in gun safety; they know they should intervene to create muzzle discipline.

This rule/lesson includes the same “there are some people who need shooting” qualifier as number one. You may want your child to live in blissfully oblivious to insatiable evil as long as possible. Your choice. Not mine.

Which leads to the real brainwashing . . .

3. Your right to keep and bear arms protects your life and keeps us free

Other than the four Farago family rules—never eat anything bigger than your head, don’t marry show folk, no dancing without your pantsies on and never wear horizontal stripes—that’s my philosophical legacy to my children.

I specifically use the term “your right to keep and bear arms” to foster a sense of ownership. To teach my girls that the Second Amendment is their birthright. That the 2A protects their right to armed self-defense. Anyone who tries to limit that right is mounting a personal attack on their individual freedom.

The “protects your life” part reminds Lola and her sisters that their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is a matter of life-or-death. Literally.

“And keeps us free” instills the message that the Second Amendment is the foundation of all of our freedoms. That our liberty depends on it. Without gun rights, that star spangled banned wouldn’t wave over the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

I’m sure parental units amongst TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have their own top three firearms rules/lessons for their children. Feel free to share them below. Meanwhile, thanks for protecting the American dream, one child at a time.

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  1. “O.K. it’s also a form of torture forbidden under the terms of the Geneva Convention.”

    Are you serious?

    • Apparently, the problem is that the movie is based on a book with a lot of little words and – gasp! – no pictures. God forbid that we should spend two minutes watching a film during which there are no spaceships or gratuitous explosions.

      • How could there be a movie about the Civil War without lots of gratuitous explosions? As far as spaceships, everybody knows time traveling Reptoids were there to make sure the North won.

  2. Amen!! Been teaching mine the same basic principles as you gave for a long time.
    So far so good. Our 11yr old girl has her own single shot .22lr rifle which she keeps in her closet unloaded, and we have the ammo for it locked up.
    A friend of hers spent the night recently and wanted to play with it and she told her no, it wasn’t a toy and it could hurt someone.
    We are very proud of her!!

  3. My family uses the word “kill” instead of “shoot”. A recently departed family pet that was “killed” by a car helps them understand that killing/ death is permanent.

  4. “The “never let a friend point a gun at someone that doesn’t need shooting” rule/lesson guards against a huge danger: other kids’ stupidity. More than that, it teaches your child to take an active role in gun safety; they know they should intervene to create muzzle discipline.”

    What if your kids “intervening” verbally or physically gets your kid shot? What if while trying to wrestle away the gun your kid tucks it in close like it’s a football and it goes off point blank?

    • There is always the Eddie the Eagle fall back-go tell an adult. I think standing there while some idiot kid is playing cops and robbers with a real gun is pretty much the worst option.

      • I agree, leave and tell an adult is probably the best thing to do. ‘No one’ can control the decisions or reactions of a kid or person holding a gun loaded or not. I generally would not ever think the best action is to intervene or just stand there. I think it is a better idea to (without creating a scene or antagonizing the kid holding the gun) quietly leave the area.

    • When that’s possible…

      I hope my kid never encounters that situation, but maybe leaving isn’t always an option, you know, just like in grown up life, which is the whole reason we all promote concealed carry.

  5. I’ll learn how to knit if Lola learns how to shoot.

    Dude, you have been outnegotiated by a 9 year old. Badly. She’ll be drilling targets weak-handed with a .45 before you ever learn how to knit one purl two. Guaranteed.

    Knitting is hard. And whattaya gonna do if some BG messes with you? Whip out your needles and make him a cozy winter scarf?

  6. Massad wrote several years (decades?) ago “How To Gun-Proof Your Kids”. The premise being: you can gun-proof your house, but not everyone else’s house. Good advice in both his book and your post.

    • And for non-American parents too!

      As a legal permanent resident (yeah yeah whineys, we’re looking to naturalize too when eligible!) and from basically anti-gun western Europe, I can appreciate the natural birthrights we have in the US even more. Recently had to pick up my latest purchase after an NICS delay (hooray, standard treatment for non-citizens), but I just picked up my 2 y/o from daycare. Took him to my very pleasant FFL and at home he told mom: “mama, papa memwuehgagabwwwwup trrrrr” and that was it. He didn’t see my purchase (boxed up), but he did see we were in a gunstore. I cc around the house too and he doesn’t know I own guns (as he’s very interested in anything exciting I have). I am very much in favor of exposing him to the normalcy of firearms, but as long as he can’t really speak properly (the “trrrrr” above is his “I’m shooting” thing, which he does with his plastic pirate toy gun, as well as anything made of Duplo that’s remotely L-shaped :)) I won’t show that I have them yet.

      I discuss the topic every now and then with people back in Europe and it’s funny how the anti-mentality there is so engrained, even though violent firearm crime happens and CC’ing people might have been able to make a positive difference.

      • Wait a minute! We don’t have any beef with legal immigration, just a tsunami of barefoot illiterates coming here to register Democrat and get on the gravy train. I wish we had more folks like you. FWIW my grandfather was born on the way to America one step ahead of the Czar’s secret police.

      • Welcome to America! My wife is an immigrant also, got naturalized about 9 years ago. And I like your plan of making firearms a normal part of life, and not something to be ashamed of.

  7. Great rules for every American parent to incorporate into how they raise their kids… I’m actually looking forward to “the talk” (about firearms, not birds/bee) when my kids are old enough. Very timely, too… especially with this holiday season, many older kids may be receiving for Xmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / New Year their first firearm as a gift, and with that gift, the rules and responsibilities of safety ought to be taught.

    Bravo, RF.

  8. It is funny, I worry more about my kids here than my kids who live in Israel. In Israel you don’t hear much about shootings, or AD with children. They learn from a very early age what death is. News is not censored like it is here. They realize the dangers, and it is something they pick up almost naturally.
    The problem we have here is what I dub the A-Team complex. People shoot guns and no one dies. No blood, and kids, as well as adults are censored from the real world.
    All of your points are good valid ones. Beyond that teaching your kids to shoot means they learn the 4 rules etc. It also takes away the mystery of the bang stick and they know darn well what it can do.

  9. Perhaps it goes without saying, but teach your kids how awesome shooting is. I just took my son on his first white tail hunt, and hopefully he’s hooked!

  10. My children *once I have them* will be taught these lessons as early as possible. I hope they will love guns as much as dad does 🙂

  11. I remember when I was a kid, a long time ago ( read, not long ago) my dad taught me that even with a toy gun the only thing you aim it at is a target and proper gun handling skills. This stayed with me when using anything “gun like” such as a drill or stapler.

    He never did let me play with the plastic toysets that came with large knives though, and to this day I still don’t like knives near me that aren’t in my control.

    • That is funny in a way. I am 50 and I remember when we were kids we spent all day outside chasing each other around(there were 10 of us 1st cousins on the farm) shooting at each other with our big silver cowboy cap guns. It was a big deal to go in the local store and buy $2 worth of caps.
      The more ammo the longer you survived the fight!! Of course we got older and graduated to BB gun wars too. They still sting when I think about it sometimes.

      • Long Drinking Straws and popcorn wars (piece of paper towel behind popcorn kernel made greater velocity), licorice whips for hand to hand, and if lucky, the occassional chicken or Guinea egg that hadnt hatched made great hand grenades other than an ear of field corn, hid those rotten eggs like the immunity idol on Survivor as they were equivilant to biological weapons.

        • Raid the egg houses for rotten eggs, a semi dry cow patty for hand grenades and last but not least a peach tree limb.
          ??? A peach tree limb you ask??? Yes, we knew as soon as our folks or our grandparents found out we were bombing the girl cousins with semi dry pasture frisbees we were getting an ass whooping. Picking our own limb sometimes saved us a little bit of ouch factor on the butt!!!
          Bad thing is we were out numbered, there were 4 of us boys and 6 of the girls, so unfair!! LOL!!! Sure miss the good old days sometimes. Oh and before I forget if we had internal strife in our “Army” we resorted to what we called Bodock or Crab apples! Them SOB’s hurt too!!

        • One that I forgot and really geared more towards use in school was the wet paper towel hand grenade.
          Wad of towels, liberally soaked in cold water, squeezed lightly and hurled at your target from behind or beside!! Everyone in the area got to enjoy that one, just because they made that nice loud “Splat” when they hit, and the cold water down the neck or in the ear usually got a good holler or curse word out of them!!

  12. I would humbly request you reconsider #2. My kids have friends of different physical size and ability, the last thing I want to ever hear is that they grappled or even argued with a friend holding a gun. Hopefully I’ve raised them (11 and 14) in a way that would prevent them from hanging out with someone who would abuse a firearm but if they ever find themselves in that situation the time for talking is over. I want them to leave it by the shortest route to cover.
    We have a LOT of rules in the shooting community. My range is peppered with decades of posted rules sprouting from the minds of different administrations exhibiting different priorities and concerns. This is a religious argument I don’t really want to leap into again but… The Cooper four were initially intended for people with tactical training. I love it and all, but It has double negative, vaguery and jargon. The NRA three are more accessible and come on a handy blue pamphlet or colorful posters from program materials or in any NRA class (order along with your Eddie Eagle coloring supplies). Just MHO.

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