Gun Safety at Home - Make Your Kids Part of the Solution

You've probably heard stories like this from time to time: Some children are playing inside. They start snooping around the house and find a gun on the top shelf of a bedroom closet. One thing leads to another and *bang* one of the kids pulls the trigger and his friend gets shot.

Who's at fault is a legal question. But the question of who's "responsible" is clear. The gun owner, in this case the adult home owner, is responsible for making sure that his guns are not misused.

When accidents like this happen, it's seldom because the gun owner is a bad person or intended any harm. It's generally because he became too comfortable with firearms and developed a lazy attitude toward gun safety.

Let's take a look at some simple ideas to enhance gun safety in a home with kids. 

Make gun safety a family project.

Some gun owners keep guns "hidden" in the house. They don't discuss guns with their spouse or children. Their thinking is that guns are only for the gun "owner" and other should just keep their hands off. That's fine as far as it goes. But ignorance is not an effective gun safety rule.

It's far better to get the family involved. While your family may not have the same level of interest in guns as you, they should all understand basic gun safety rules. Teach them how firearms work, why you own them, and the benefits and dangers involved. The kids who get hurt with guns are almost always those who are curious about guns but ignorant about their operation.

If you're not sure how to do this, consider taking the family to a gun safety class at a nearby shooting range.

Think like a kid.

Remember when you were growing up? If you were like most curious kids, you snooped into everything when your parents weren't looking. Night stands. Bathroom drawers. Closets. Attic. Basement shelves. You probably knew every secret in your home better than your parents. Do you really think your kids are any different?

Kids are smart, curious, and persistent. If you hide it, they will find it. That probably means you won't fool them by putting a gun in a hollowed out book, or between the mattresses, or on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. That also probably means you should forget about hiding your firearms and, instead, secure them in a safe, at least when kids are very young. Kids will know where your firearms are located, but if it's a quality safe, they shouldn't be able to get in.

Turn your kids into safety nuts.

Kids may not love all the rules you have for taking out the garbage, doing their homework, or cleaning their room. But many do like rules when they are the ones enforcing them. It makes them feel grown up and important.

So when you teach them about gun safety, also teach them how to instruct others. The NRA's Eddie Eagle program is one great example of how to lay down simple rules for kids that they can use to be gun safety advocates.

  • Stop — This first step is crucial. Stopping first allows your child the time he or she needs to remember the rest of the safety instructions
  • Don't touch — A firearm that is not touched or disturbed is unlikely to fire and otherwise endanger your child or other people.
  • Run away — This removes the temptation to touch the firearm as well as the danger that another person may negligently cause it to fire.
  • Tell a grown-up — Children should seek a trustworthy adult, neighbor, relative or teacher – if a parent or guardian is not available.

Try it and see what happens. Before you know it, your kids will be teaching this to other kids. This not only reinforces good habits, it helps a simple safety message "go viral."

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