In my family, we are firearms instructors, competitive shooters, hunters, and have guns for self defense. There was a lot of talk about guns with our children because it was extremely important for us to model the “healthy respect and fear” one should have of a firearm. I say the word “fear” and cringe a bit because we don’t fear guns; however, it is a common phrase in the gun community as a reminder that one should never become complacent with a firearm. I respect my firearms for what they are capable of doing and I fear complacency, so we are diligent to always follow the Rules.
We began talking to our kids about firearms safety at the tender age of four, following the excellent Eddie Eagle program. As our boys grew up, we stepped up our conversation with them on safety and proper etiquette — all of the stuff we, as instructors, teach our adult students.
Firearms are not a mystery in our home. When a new gun came in the house we gathered the boys around the kitchen table and introduced them. After my husband or I demonstrated that it was unloaded and in a safe condition, they were allowed to handle it and dry fire. Usually my husband would talk about the parts and functions of the gun, and we all learned about it. We also discussed it’s purpose, whether hunting, self defense, competitive, or recreational. After the show-n-tell was over, the firearm was properly stored and we when on about the day.
This family activity saved my son’s life.
When my oldest son was 12 years old, he was at a friend’s house. I can only assume that in their conversations as best friends they must have talked about guns, hunting with their dads, etc. This day of all days, they were unsupervised in the home and his friend brought out his dad’s rifle. My son did everything right: he told his friend to put it away, and then my son left the house. I was teaching just not far from him, but missed his call. He walked to a nearby shopping center and waited for me to call him back. If my kid never listened to me about anything else, I will be forever grateful that he had this knowledge and action plan.
My son told me that he remembered that we talked about only handling firearms with an adult. I laughed when he said that he wasn’t impressed with that gun because we had better ones.
I have never felt more fear, relief, and pride in one moment.