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.