When it comes to kids and guns, you have two choices: Ignorance or education. But here’s the reality- if you take the ignorance approach, your kids will get their firearms “education” from movies, video games, or from their friends. While we’re not advocating that you take your four-year-old out shooting, we are advocating that you answer your children’s questions about your firearms and allow them to interact at a level that’s safe for their age group. Regardless of how old your child is, you’ll need to begin his or her education with an understanding of basic firearms safety. Here are a few safety tips that have been used for kids of various age groups:
2-6 years old:
Mommy, I found a gun (horrifying to any parent’s ears)! Introduce your children to knowing what they should do if they find a firearm left unattended at your home or any other home:
- they should leave it alone
- leave the room and
- find an adult
Quiz them on this every time you handle a firearm in front of your child, or any time the topic of firearms comes up.
Teaching your child to maintain “muzzle control” on his toy dart gun and to “keep his finger out of the trigger guard until he’s on target and is ready to shoot” may sound silly, but that will build that rule into his neural pathways, which serve him for the rest of his or her life. Anything a child learns at this age stands a good chance of becoming hard-wired behavior.
7-12 years old:
This age group is ready to shoot a BB gun or a .22 caliber rifle depending on their:
- his or her ability to grasp all four universal safety rules
- his or her physical ability to handle a firearm safely
Regardless of how many times you have to say to them “watch your muzzle” or “take your finger off the trigger,” keep saying it. It is your responsibility for drilling these rules into your child’s brain. They’ll return the favor by doing the same with your grandkids.
At the hint of any fatigue, or enjoyment turning into boredom, end the session for the day. Praise your child’s accuracy, but even more so, praise them for the great job they did adhering to the Universal Safety Rules.
13+ years old:
Teenagers who have demonstrated maturity, the ability to grasp all four universal safety rules, the ability to handle a firearm safely when using a BB gun or .22 rifle, may be ready to step up to learn how to operate a handgun. With their shorter barrels, handguns can sometimes reintroduce muzzle control problems, so watch closely to ensure that all safety rules are being maintained.
Remember, as, with all things in life, your children will learn more by watching what you do, rather than listening to what you say. Be a good teacher.
** Please note: This is NOT legal advice. We at Inland Training are not attorneys. We are simply passing along the best available public information to assist you in understanding the new legal requirements.