Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Question for the Gun-Owning Parents Out There...

Marko has a conundrum, and would like your opinion:
So—what’s the right thing to do for a parent who believes in the value of responsible gun ownership, the futility of prohibition measures, and the right to self-defense (even if it’s against imaginary giant spiders?) How do I reconcile my personal beliefs, the rules of gun safety, and my kid’s inability to fully understand the concepts of death and killing?

I posted a quick answer in comments:
Directed interest is DEFINITELY the way to go. That’s what I’ve done with TheBoy, and it’s turned out great.

You get a chance to drill the Four Rules into their heads until they know them in their sleep. They learn safe and proper gun handling. Most importantly, IMHO, they learn that guns are not objects to be feared, but tools with which one must exercise care and caution.

No fear.
No sweeping under the rug.
Just “Here it is. Here’s how you handle it responsibly. Any infractions and it gets taken away”.

Trust me on this one. Once you’ve relieved Quinn of his favorite Nerf gun, Star Wars blaster, or cap gun for the nth time, he will rapidly equate “pointing gun at Lyra” with “gun goes bye-bye”…

And I’ll close with this shot:

Notice the placement of TheBoy’s trigger finger…

This method does require a careful monitoring of your child's toy gun handling - something I'm certain Marko will do well. It's also a fantastic way of drilling safe gun handling into your kids - which is of utmost importance for a household with firearms in it. Never pass up the opportunity to teach your kids proper care and handling of firearms. Heck, never pass up any opportunity to teach your kids proper care and handling of anything!

I've never been of the "don't give kids toy guns because they'll learn bad habits" mindset. They'll only learn bad habits if you allow them to - you do need to monitor their usage constantly. You need to use each infraction as a learning experience - take the gun away and ask them "Which of the four rules did you break?" You lay down ironclad ground rules - any of the four rules gets broken, the gun gets taken away - and you enforce those rules.

I can't stress how important education is here. Making absolutely certain that your child acts in a safe manner around firearms is one of the most important things a gun-owning parent can do. You need to teach your child that firearms are not toys; that they shouldn't fear them but be careful and follow the rules. One of the best ways to teach that lesson and reinforce it is to let them have Nerf guns or cap guns or squirt guns and watch how they use them.

The payoff is immense - the peace of mind of knowing your kid won't be the one to pick up a gun he finds in a couch cushion and wind up shooting himself or a playmate...

That is all.


knitalot3 said...

My dad had guns around the house as far back as I can remember. I knew where the guns all were and where the ammo was too. I knew that if I wanted to go shooting, dad was there.

I also knew if I touched any of them without him, there would be trouble. Neither me nor any of my brothers ever had an "accident".

My kids have graduated from hunter safety.

Training and following through is the way to go.

Sigboy said...

Why must you parenting be so difficult? What if I am to blame if his mental growth is stuntyedbecause I didnt let him have toy guns?
No answers can be found here:

Wally said...

Mom did everything to keep me away from toy guns until my uncle gave me a SAA-style capgun. Dad taught responsible handling.

Now, even mom carries.

chrisb said...

It is weird. When I was a kid we had lots of toy guns,and "shot" each other with them every day.

We also had lots of real guns in the house.

I knew the difference, and was taught the proper respect and handling of firearms starting with my Daisy at age four.

Old NFO said...

Well said Jay! AND an excellent way to do it. Training and follow-through work every time.

doubletrouble said...

First, +1 for chrisb

I dunno… the world has moved on considerably from when I was a yute.

I had toy guns, “tree branch” guns, every kind of cap gun that was available in the 50’s; AND I SHOT PEOPLE WITH THEM.
Having never been dragged into court for those acts, I’m guessing nobody died from my aggression.
Kids are kids, or at least they used to be.

Like I said at Marko’s post, the difference is in teaching between real & play.

The world has turned into a blathering bunch of wussies that are afraid of every step taken, every emotion felt. If a kid can’t play war, complete with enemies, shoot them as necessary, & not recognize the difference between that activity & real life, then we, the ”parental society” have failed.

My son was raised the same way as I- (you know him Jay), has his CC in four states, & hasn’t shot anyone, yet.

Neither have I.

Dean Carder said...

My son grew up with a respect for guns and a large dose of gun safety. I never advocated tattling but by the age of three if one of his friends pointed toy gun at him he came directly to me to let me know of the infraction. Today he's a legal gun totin' conservative. Yahoo!

Anonymous said...

knit pretty much got it in one. Teach the little rugrats the meaning of the word NO, and the rest is pretty easy.

Mikee said...

Knowledge is better than ignorance.

Any other questions?