For the educated and responsible gun owning parent, these are positive words. We think about the next generation we are raising who will fight to protect our Second Amendment rights, a generation that respects guns as the powerful tool they are and knows how to care for and handle them properly. We smile as we think of our family time on the range. For others, hearing the words ‘children and guns’ elicits horrific images and fears along with cries for stricter laws to protect them.
As mothers and fathers, we have to understand this and these emotionally charged responses from those that lack the understanding that we have as responsible gun owners.
I participated in a number of interviews following the tragic accident involving a 9 year old girl who accidentally shot an instructor while shooting a subcompact automatic Uzi. We all have opinions and criticisms of this incident and are rightfully disturbed by choices made by the adults involved. Rather than add to the dialogue which we are seeing everywhere in the press and social media, I would like to focus on what an incident like this means to us as parents and gun owners.
As simple as it may sound, we MUST take the responsibility for the proper storage of firearms in our homes and teaching our children about guns VERY seriously. As parents, we must look at our personal strategies on how to accomplish this responsibly and thoroughly. The lives of your children and others depend on it. Your plan must be a long-term, lifelong plan. It doesn’t end once you have delivered the Eddie Eagle program to your children, or purchased the appropriate safe(s) you will utilize in your home. It must become part of your lifestyle. It must become part of who you are as a parent and a family. Every family member must regularly review, practice and train for safe handling. We must model it as parents with our words and our actions every day.
The decision of when and how you will teach your child to shoot and the ramifications of this decision are yours. you MUST use the utmost discretion and with clarity of mind, assess your child’s readiness. It will take an unbiased and undistorted view of your child, both emotionally and physically to make this decision, keeping in mind the purpose of your training is their very safety.
For your children to grow into responsible and safe gun owners, they must start that way, with YOU as their model and guide. So perhaps the first step in making this choice is an assessment of your own handling skills, knowledge of firearms and range safety. Perhaps hiring a trained professional to assist you is required.
What else does an incident like this mean to us as gun owners? Although secondary to the safety of our children, the reality is, accidents like these create a surge of calls for more legislation and restrictions. In every interview I participated in, this was the cry. Can you imagine laws that tell you if your child can learn to shoot and if so, legislate when they are ready? Can you imagine politicians deciding which gun you may use, what type of ammo is permitted, what the proper trigger pull weight should be and how you MUST store your firearm in your home. Although we all agree with the necessity of proper and responsible training and proper storage of guns in the home with children, it is my belief that no one is better equipped to make these decisions than you.
So let’s pledge to be educated and informed parents who are dedicated to the safety of our children and committed to the tenants of appropriate, responsible and safe firearm education, training and storage.
Together we will protect our children and our rights.