I have a special circumstance, so the answer isn't really relevant.
I firmly believe children who can understand should be taught gun safety from an early age, as I was. I can't remember a time when I didn't know the rules.
A couple of possibilities concern me, though, and explain why (I think) I would lock up a firearm that was not in my direct sight:
- Kids may know not to play with the gun, but who's to say some medicine he takes for something unrelated, or something he eats (by accident or by ignorance), won't make him act outside the norm. Kids up to and through puberty can and do develop strange reactions.
- Kids have friends. You don't always know your kids' friends maturity/knowledge level (Eddie Haskell, anyone?), nor do you know that a "friend" won't bully information from your child, or won't do something underhanded that your child may be completely unaware of.
- Teens, particularly young teens, have a tendency to do stupid things even when they know better, even knowing they shouldn't, even knowing in their head and heart it's wrong
Everyone has to make this type of decision for himself. Every family will be different.