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Thread: Children and firearm safety

  1. #1
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    Children and firearm safety

    Hello all,

    Just some questions to all the parents out there that have taught their children about firearm safety.

    How did you broach the subject and how was it received? Any recommendations? Any issues from your spouse? My wife carries from time to time but is not thrilled with the kids being taught about firearms - I am confident I will be able to change her mind with a logical argument, she is pretty receptive if I can argue my case clearly (she is pretty great in that regard). I have told her that it is critical for the kids to learn firearm safety. My argument being that they may be at a friends house in which they find a firearm which isn't secured. They need to know what to do in this situation (don't touch it, tell an adult, etc...I know that the NRA has classes for kids, maybe this is an option)

    Both my grandfathers were WWII Navy combat veterans and my father was an Army combat medic in Vietnam. It almost goes without saying that I was brought up around firearms and was taught safe handling from a very young age (so young that I can't remember the particular instant I was taught about safety). However, I remember knowing the do and don'ts from a very young age and would like to pass this on.

    I have quite a few guns in the house (locked up in gun safes of course, ammo stored separately except for the home defense pistol which is always loaded in a safe attached to the bed frame) and have not yet had "the talk" with my kids. My son is 3 1/2 and in my opinion he is not yet ready to have the above mentioned talk. My daughter however is a very mature 5 1/2 (going on 16) and I think she would understand and listen to what I'm saying. I'm planning on taking her shooting in the next year or so, maybe that is the time to bring up the subject of safety. I carry a gun concealed (I have a permit) every day so it is only a matter of time before one of them notices or questions the existence of the gun safes.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
    Last edited by Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.; 06-23-2011 at 02:08 PM.
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  2. #2
    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    What I would worry about more, if I still had small children is how their friend's parents keep their HG stored (or not).

    But in your case, it's not like it was in the 50s, 60s and 70s when kids played with toy guns (that looked pretty real). I don't envy you having to try and train them.

    Most folks here say they just took their kids to the range when they were teenagers and let them shoot .22 pistols.

    You might talk to the 5 y.o. while you clean your guns and start getting them acquainted. But beware, they are now asking kids in schools if their parents own HGs and I don't think it's a good idea to be disclosing that to everyone.

    Good luck!
    A gun in a holster is better than one drawn and dispensing bullets. Concealed forces the latter. - ixtow

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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger Johnson View Post
    What I would worry about more, if I still had small children is how their friend's parents keep their HG stored (or not).

    But in your case, it's not like it was in the 50s, 60s and 70s when kids played with toy guns (that looked pretty real). I don't envy you having to try and train them.

    Most folks here say they just took their kids to the range when they were teenagers and let them shoot .22 pistols.

    You might talk to the 5 y.o. while you clean your guns and start getting them acquainted. But beware, they are now asking kids in schools if their parents own HGs and I don't think it's a good idea to be disclosing that to everyone.

    Good luck!
    Badger,

    Them being at friend's houses with an unsecured firearm is my #1 worry. We are *very* careful at our house but who knows about the next guy right?

    That's a great idea about talking to my daughter while cleaning my guns. That may be a good way to start the conversation.

    To your point, the other worry is that I don't want her to be telling everyone at school that we have guns in the house (I don't think schools are very receptive to this). I guess that is a separate conversation in that regard, not that I'll have much control in this. Good luck indeed...
    Minds are like parachutes. Just because you lost yours doesn't mean you can borrow mine...

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    Regular Member LibertyDeath's Avatar
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    My suggestion is to teach them respect for firearms and have them fully understand what they can do. Take them out to someplace safe to go shooting. Place a photo of Osama Bin Laden or draw a face on a melon. Tell your child that what you are about to do is similar to what would happen to anyone shot by a gun. Then shoot the melon, preferably with something big enough to pop the melon or cause severe damage.

    Also, if your child ever asks to look at, hold, touch, etc. any firearm drop what ever you are doing and let them. Provided you can do it safely. This eliminates the curiosity factor. The goal is to make it a non-issue if your child ever comes across an unsecured firearm.

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    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    Good replies. I'd be careful while showing the 'seriousness' so as not to scare them unduly.

    Maybe emphasize the HG is a 'tool' just like an electric drill, or a table saw, both dangerous if not handled under adult supervision.

    When we first started shooting we did a lot of dry fire with snap caps. Perhaps simulate what it's like to go to a range (go to an outdoor one if possible), how to keep the muzzle pointed downrange - do all of that at home with snap caps so that when you actually go to the range it's about second nature.

    Some parents might go too far and not even let their child handle the HG. I think it's important they handle it/one and see how you check it's unloaded, use a dowel or a pencil to check the tube is empty, etc.

    IOW there's a lot about gun handling, cleaning and knowledge that do not involve actual discharge and it's all important and takes time to learn. The key, I suppose is not to force it on a child who is not interested and even so to keep it from being boring. I'd show them youtube vids that are good quality and explain things as well. Some people are attuned to visual learning via videos and films.

    HTH
    A gun in a holster is better than one drawn and dispensing bullets. Concealed forces the latter. - ixtow

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    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyDeath View Post
    My suggestion is to teach them respect for firearms and have them fully understand what they can do. Take them out to someplace safe to go shooting. Place a photo of Osama Bin Laden or draw a face on a melon. Tell your child that what you are about to do is similar to what would happen to anyone shot by a gun. Then shoot the melon, preferably with something big enough to pop the melon or cause severe damage.

    Also, if your child ever asks to look at, hold, touch, etc. any firearm drop what ever you are doing and let them. Provided you can do it safely. This eliminates the curiosity factor. The goal is to make it a non-issue if your child ever comes across an unsecured firearm.
    Ditto. Take 'em out in the woods and blow away a pumpkin with a 12 gauge. Tell 'em that's what guns do.

    Your kids sound a little young to get into practical firearm safety training except DON'T TOUCH. My son was 8 before he started shooting/hunting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyDeath View Post
    My suggestion is to teach them respect for firearms and have them fully understand what they can do. Take them out to someplace safe to go shooting. Place a photo of Osama Bin Laden or draw a face on a melon. Tell your child that what you are about to do is similar to what would happen to anyone shot by a gun. Then shoot the melon, preferably with something big enough to pop the melon or cause severe damage.

    Also, if your child ever asks to look at, hold, touch, etc. any firearm drop what ever you are doing and let them. Provided you can do it safely. This eliminates the curiosity factor. The goal is to make it a non-issue if your child ever comes across an unsecured firearm.
    I agree in regards to teaching them respect for firearms. I don't know if I'll have them shoot at a likeness of a human being (to each their own, I suppose) while so young but a non-human target or melon would be okay in my mind to show them what happens when you shoot something. I however, am happy to shoot at the likeness of Osama Bin Laden (I worked at World Trade 7 and was present for the 9/11 attack - the second plane hit right over my head while I was leaving the building). As a side note, I will never be happy about the taking of a human life but when I heard the news about Osama's death - I didn't cry. Let's leave it at that.

    I'm also not adverse to taking my kids hunting with me to show them what happens when you shoot an animal. This may be the best avenue for them to learn safety and respect for what they are doing.

    I will definitely let them hold/touch/manipulate an unloaded firearm while I am in the room. I already do this with knives. I will let them utilize knives to prepare food or open things but I always have my hand guiding theirs so they don't cut themselves. I suppose this will also translate into firearms.
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  8. #8
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Children are by their very nature curious creatures, and like to investigate things they do knot understand, or are unfamiliar with.

    Think of the stories you've heard of toddlers who shoved a peanut butter sandwich into a VCR--sure it is annoying, but not a deadly error. But these things happen because they didn't understand the VCR, and were curious.

    Guns are a different matter altogether...

    When I was very young (I think maybe around 7 or 8) my dad took me to a friends farm, and set up a watermelon, a gallon jug of water, and an old stuffed animal on fenceposts, and then explained to me how guns were very dangerous and could really hurt people if you weren't careful with them. He told me that I should NEVER touch a gun or ammo if I saw it in our house or someone else's house.

    Then he proceeded to shoot the three targets with his old single-shot 20ga shotgun. He shot the milk jug first--I thought that was exciting and cool when it exploded. Then we walked over to look at it. More talk about how dangerous guns could be.

    Then we went back to the "firing line" and he shot the melon. That was pretty impressive, and I remember a little scary because it just went everywhere, and there was red mush all over the place. More talk...

    Then he fired at the teddy bear. That sealed it for me. Especially when he told me that a gun could do the same thing to a person, like my friends, or my sister, or me if they weren't handled safely.

    I never touched a gun unless Dad was around, and even after my grandfather gave me a .22 rifle for my 10th birthday, I wouldn't handle it unless dad was around, until I was old enough to drive...

    I think a healthy dose of the reality of the destructive power of firearms is a good teaching tool. Sure it can be scary. Sure, a little kid might get a little shook up seeing a watermelon or a stuffed animal blown to shreds.

    But it's a LOT less traumatic than what a child will experience if they "accidentally" shoot a friend or relative because they didn't know about proper firearms safety...

    I will be training my granddaughter in firearms safety and handling when she's old enough (she's not quite 2 years old). I've got a LOT of time to work on my speech, and I'll be doing a lot of research in the next few years. I'm the only person in the immediate family who has any sort of experience with firearms (I'm working on that too--getting her parents trained up, and hopefully armed soon).

    I think little boys are much more likely to play with guns if they are not trained, than little girls, but I want my granddaughter to grow up knowing that guns are tools like power saws or chef's knives--dangerous if you don't handle them correctly, but when handled in a safe and correct manner they can have an important place in your life, from putting food on the table, to self-defense, to sporting and competition.

    When is the right time to teach little children about guns? I can't say--that varies from child to child. I think that it's probably going to "take" best somewhere around age 8-10. Younger than that, I'd say just keep them locked up. If you OC around your kids, you need to address safety much earlier, because they will see your handgun and ask questions. I think talking about it, and setting out rules early is good, but doing some sort of "physical demonstration" is something that would work better as a teaching tool after age 6 or 7...

    but, then again, IANACP... (I Am Not A Child Psychologist)
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
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    My daughter got her first gun safety lesson when she was 4.
    She picked my holstered 44 mag off the bed post and started walking away with it.
    So we had a talk about guns not being toys, then we went out and I shot a bar
    of soap with my little 25 raven. Then she understood what a bullet would do. I
    never had a problem with her, when she wanted to handle or shoot a gun she would ask.
    I never locked my guns or hid them and they were all loaded, and she would not touch any of them without permission.
    She is 29 now and still remembers that bar of soap.
    Take the mystery out of guns as early as possible.
    Life is tough, its tougher when your stupid.

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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Hej NYPD. IMHO, (father of 5 grandfather of 13) You 5 1/5 year old is past where she should have been introduced to a firearm. First, you teach the 4 rules, especially that every firearm is loaded, and needs to be treated as loaded (if it is or not).

    Then, start with something like a watermellon, and explain that whatever the bullet hits, will be damaged like that watermellon. Milk jug full of water (can't waste mik you know) works too, balloons are great, especially when full of water.

    Start with something small and light, a junior sized single shot .22 if she is small, and allow her to shoot some water balloons fairly close (ft not yds), then explain, if she ever wants to shoot all she needs to do is ask, otherwise, no touch.

    I tought all of my girls when they were 4 or 5 that all firearms are loaded and dangerous (and all of mine are always loaded, and always have been) and never had any problems with them taking the guns out by themselves.

    I started them shooting as soon as they were physically big enough to hold a "boys" .22 single shoot. (you know the 1/2 scale version). we shot targets and balloons, the kids liked the balloons best. (we shot in our back yard, but I know in NYC that is not possible, an indoor target range would have to do).

    After the grew up a little, and could handle a larger weapon, they were introduced to them. Best weapon for a young person is still the .22. safest is a single shot.

    After they mastered the .22 rifle, they moved up to my wifes 22 target pistols (High Standard Trophy and Olympic) then my old .38 Colt revolver. They all liked to shoot the 22's (rifle and pistols), none of them like my Colt.

    Only one of our 5 daughters still shoots on a regular basis, and that one competes. I am working my way through the grandkids now, tough I am waiting a bit longer than with my own daughters. Starting them when they show interest (average about 8), except for one 4 year old girl that wants to shoot with her older brothers. Have not allowed that yet, she is just physically too small..she has already been trained as to gun safety though, and Opa says "no touch". (I'm not nice about the "no touch" either)

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    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    My son is two and is at that stage where he is asking "what is that" about everything. I have shown him my gun (fully unloaded and triple checked). I have told him what it is, what is does, and why I carry it just like I would to an adult (but in terms he can understand). He also undertands that he should not touch it while I am carrying it. While I am am sure he does not understand everything I am saying I think it is important to start talking about it early. As he starts to get older I will start explaining more and more and teaching him the safety rules. On another note, I always keep my loaded guns secured on my body or secured out of reach. I think it's great when my son point's to my side and says "Daddy's gun."
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    I had similar questions recently with my boy. He just turned 4 a few weeks ago.

    A few weeks before his birthday I was cleaning guns and he came and and we talked about them. I told him how dangerous they could be. Something he understands because of our cat being put to sleep, was that they make people go away and not come back.

    I think that settled into him. Kids are all different. Some are more 'in tune', others take some time. It all depends on the kids attitude and aptitude I believe.

    Anyway, I was cleaning the.45 and was showing him how to clean it, why I was cleaning, naming a few of the easier parts to remember, and he had a great understanding and genuine interest in it.

    After cleaning I let him hold it, of course explaining to NEVER put your figure on the trigger. Of course the gun was a bit big for him, and he couldnt really pick it up and sight down it so he basically just pointed it at the floor. Maybe the .380 would be a little more his size and I'll let him try it if he wants to.

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    My son was at the range with me and .22 semi-auto pistols by age 6.

    Prior to that time, from the first toy plastic gun on, I worked with muzzle control and trigger finger discipline.

    I think from about 3-4 years old and beyond, I was open about my firearm ownership, and clearly let him know that I did own and carry firearms. I also was open about the pistols I owned, and did show them to him and reinforce that these were not some of the "toy guns" that he played with.

    Now, at 13, he is safer than many adults around firearms.


    The key points that I feel were successful are:

    "Lead by example."
    Be exemplary in muzzle control, trigger finger discipline, and safe handling (i.e., anal "show clear" for handling). Show and explain these points in a clear manner.

    "Muscle memory begins with toys."
    I personally feel that the toy guns are an excellent teaching aid, as they are a safe platform for practicing the above items.

    "Do not 'hide' firearms"
    By being open about my firearm ownership, my guns were not mysterious 'toys' that needed to be investigated.
    Last edited by wrightme; 06-24-2011 at 10:04 AM.
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    Regular Member MKEgal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyDeath
    Also, if your child ever asks to look at, hold, touch, etc. any firearm drop what ever you are doing and let them. Provided you can do it safely. This eliminates the curiosity factor. The goal is to make it a non-issue if your child ever comes across an unsecured firearm.
    Exactly what Kathy recommends over on www.corneredcat.com
    That site is aimed at women, but men, go read it too! It's a unique perspective.
    Those of you with kids, she has a whole section about dealing with the various issues of kids & guns.

    Start with the very basics of safety (it can hurt you, don't touch, tell an adult) as soon as they're able to understand cause & effect, like not touching a hot stove.

    Move to the 4 rules, & when they can understand & recite those, they can handle an unloaded pistol with you standing over them, ready to grab their hand if it points in an unsafe direction. Sometimes this is as young as 3.

    Promise them (and you have to follow through on this!) that if they want to handle your gun (at home) all they have to do is ask. You might have to put down the tools & wash your hands, but do it with a smile. At first, they'll ask frequently just to make sure you meant what you said. Then it'll wear off. It's really pretty boring to just stand there holding an unloaded pistol, pointing it at the bookcase.

    If they do something unsafe, stop immediately, take the gun, tell them what they did wrong, & the lesson is over for now. No yelling. Your choice of how long to make them think about how to do it right before there's a next time. (I'd suggest it get longer as the kid gets older.)

    Somewhere in here, shoot a watermelon. (Or find a YouTube video. I'm sure someone has posted it.)
    Next I suppose would be helping with cleaning.
    Get kid-sized ear & eye protection!!!
    When they're big enough to hold & control a light .22 pistol or rifle, load & shoot 1 round at a time.
    Now if they do something unsafe you can yell a little. (And the lesson still ends instantly.)

    Don't force them to participate, and stop when they're still having fun or just starting to show signs of having had enough. Focus completely on them having a safe fun time.
    If you have an outdoor range & can use nontraditional targets, use something that reacts well - other than the balloons people have already mentioned, I've heard about crackers & charcoal briquettes.

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    Regular Member papa bear's Avatar
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    all of these have been very good answers. with children, i absolutely agree, you take their curiosity away and by training the correct way, you have made it better in case they are not in your sight if they ever do encounter an unsecured firearm.
    about your concern of "how to broach the subject". do you mean with your wife? i hope she understands that children need to be exposed to something to learn about them and it is better for you two to do it now than to wait till there's a problem. children at at an early age will retain something better than teens do. even if later on they don't even remember where they learned it. think of learning to swim. it is always better to learn while you are young, but you will still have to get wet
    Luke 22:36 ; 36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    i you call a CHP a CCW then you are really stupid. period.

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    Keep this post alive folks. It's important to many of us.

    I often suggest the Eddie Eagle videos that the NRA produced some time ago, they're actually on youtube. Combine that with direct parental education and it could quickly become win-win.

    Some approve of the EE videos, some don't like them. So here they are in the even tthat someone can use them.
    http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...un+safety&aq=f

    Rules upon finding a firearm I've taught the nephew and neice:
    Stop
    Don't touch
    Leave the area immediately
    Tell a responsible adult (mom or dad is best)

    We used a fully unloaded and non-functioning airsoft pistol to teach them this. It's been great thus far and we've used dummy rounds to teach them the same rules on ammunition. They shouldn't come into contact with either, but this is for that "what if" situation.

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    Regular Member Whitney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. View Post
    Hello all,

    Just some questions to all the parents out there that have taught their children about firearm safety.

    How did you broach the subject and how was it received? Any recommendations? Any issues from your spouse?
    Lots of good answers and wisdom already spoken here. I would only reiterate, Ask yourself again what is it you wish to instill in your children?
    My spouse was not too thrilled with it. My logical argument was the analogy of fire extinguishers , smoke alarms and seat belts. Take your time and be understanding, you can always disagree as long as you understand.

    ~Whitney
    The problem with America is stupidity.
    I'm not saying there should be capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

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    When she was a baby, I gave her a toy gun just to play with, to get the shape in her head at a young age. When she was 3 I started showing her how to hold it, and told her that she has her gun, I have mine, so she wasnt to play with mine. When she was 5 I gave her caps for the gun, and started going over gun safety with her. When she was 6 I let her watch me shoot. Then I took her into the garage and shot a gallon of water so that she got an idea of the power that a gun had. I also shot a car door, and a 4x4 block for the same reason. I had to put a windshield in the car, so I shot a hole in that and let her see what that was all about. I took her to the range and rented a P-22 for her to shoot, but only after she could recite the 4 safety rules. When she was 7 I bought her a Ruger 10-22, and take her shooting when I can. She's 8 now, and she has been helping me make layaway payments on a P-22. I bought her an Airsoft P-22 to practice her muzzle control and racking the slide. When I am comfortable with her shooting the airsoft, I will give her the P-22. She has been watching me OC for years, and she is aware that I have been in a steady fight with the school district over the right to carry at the school.

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    What Im NOT worried about with her is if she or her friends find a gun at a friends house. She will likely be the only one in the group who can safely handle a firearm and the situation at hand. She wont let them do things like touch the trigger, play with, point the gun, or look down the barrel with a flashlight to see the bullets. There is zero curiosity, balanced with a little bit of experience, and a lot of gun safety.


  20. #20
    Regular Member HKcarrier's Avatar
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    LoL @ "Danger-girl"



    I recently went over all of this with my kids. 6 and 3 (4 in sept). They have asked a lot of questions about my guns, and while I have kept them under lock and key (and will continue to) I figured it was time to show them what it was all about.

    I bought a BB gun for them to get a little experience with handling a gun without having much risk involved. I also thought the BB rifle would be a bit easier for them to keep pointed in the right direction. I taught them the rules... gun is always loaded... finger off the trigger until you are shooting.... always point in safe direction and never point it at something you don't intend to destroy... etc..

    I don't believe that even the 6 year old can completely wrap his bean around "death" and/or serious injury... I just am not sure that children that small can grasp the concept, but I explained it the best I could.

    After some experience with the BB gun (6 year old got decent!) I have let them handle my unloaded pistol in order to see how it feels and so they can sort of know the difference between a toy and a real gun. (weight, 'feel', etc)

    Then, it was off to my private 'range' to pop off a few rounds of my AR and my pistols. First I had them stay in the truck and I shot the AR standing just in front of the truck so they could hear it with the muffling of being inside. Then I cracked the door and shot again so they could hear it more.

    I just wanted them to hear the sound and see the power of it. I got their ears and eyes on, then I shot some 2 liter bottles full of water (some blew up nicely... others shot streams of water out... )

    They were both grinning from ear to ear with the booms and explosions and dirt flying... The next thing I did, people may not agree with, but I really wanted them to experience FEELING the gun go off in their hands...

    So I loaded up 1 round into my G22 and let them each shoot it once... hehe... of course I had my hand on the very bottom of the grip for the 3.75 year old (I had to help him pull the trigger anyways) and I held my thumb through the trigger guard for the 6 year old to control the recoil...

    Then I found some 2x10 boards out there... I showed them the board and had them rap on the board with their knuckles... then had them rap their own head with their knuckles to see that the board was hard... and their head was hard... then I shot the board and they were able to see the hole, and the exit hole. I think they were able to understand that the a hole in anyone's head would not be a good thing.

    As we walked back to the truck, I told them to get away from me a bit... (50ish feet) and I shot one more round when they didn't have their ears on so they could hear the difference and they were astonished how much louder it was (I was too as it had been a while since I had fired without ears in.. haha)

    I think they both gained a lot of respect for the guns. After we returned we had a little talk about our experience and they both said they had a lot of fun. I told them I would get the guns out anytime they wanted, but they ABSOLUTELY HAD TO ASK and I would get them for them.

    Told them never to touch guns without ME around and to always TELL someone if they find one and not to let anyone else touch it.... etc..etc... all those rules.


    I also instructed them that they are not to talk about daddy's guns with other people... people may want to steal the guns... people may not like guns... just no good reason to talk about them with other people. (and hopefuly their mom lol)



    I'm mostly sure that I didn't ruin them for life..
    Last edited by HKcarrier; 06-27-2011 at 12:39 PM.

  21. #21
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    @HKCarrier, that was a truly excellent post.

  22. #22
    Regular Member papa bear's Avatar
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    good job HKcarrier.

    now like it says on the bottle rinse and repeat.
    Luke 22:36 ; 36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    "guns are like a Parachute, if you don't have one when you need it, you will not need one again"
    - unknown

    i you call a CHP a CCW then you are really stupid. period.

  23. #23
    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    Don't hide your guns. My daughter (16) went to a women on target (NRA) class, and now wants nothing to do with guns. So I gave her a pepper spray for xmas (14 legal age in WA). My son (13 years) has a .22 rifle and has claimed my Hi-Point 9mm Carbine as "his". The other day when I mounted a scope on his .22 for his B-Day the first thing he did was to clear it. They are so used to me OC'ing and having guns around the house they no longer have that "curiosity". So don't hide them, make them knowledgeable to the point they don't care.
    "The beauty of the Second Amenment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." Thomas Jefferson
    "Evil often triumphs, but never conquers." Joseph Roux
    http://nwfood.shelfreliance.com

  24. #24
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    Why was your 16 put off by them?

    lol, my 8 year old claimed my XD .40

  25. #25
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    It's never too early to start gun safety IMO. I started carrying my liluns around in a sling to gun shows as soon as they came out. It's about acclimatizing, and taking the novelty off. They get practiced at being around guns and not touching. I also took them with me to the range as soon as their ears would fit hearing protection.

    As soon as they're old enough to know what a gun is is when I started them on more detailed safety. At 3ish, I could tell my youngest all day long "don't play with guns", but she wouldn't distinguish Daddy's revolver on his hip from a semiauto HG or a rifle. As soon as she could recognize when I asked her "What is that?" is when I started on why they are dangerous and why not to touch them.

    I agree with Cornered Cat as a resource. I disagree on using toy guns for training. Like someone said, they learn "muscle memory". That means if they're used to running around with their finger on the trigger, that's the way they'll train. We don't allow "gun games" in our house. You don't practice/play pointing guns at eachother. I'll buy my girls all the real guns they want, but I significantly discourage playing with toy guns. If you can monitor them to make sure they practice muzzle control, that's great, but I don't like guns being treated like "toys".

    I also disagree that a 6yo can't understand "death". It depends on how they're raised. Today's kids have certainly been desensitzed to violence and its seriousness and are sheltered away from a lot of unpleasantness. But if "death" isn't hidden from them, they can fully grasp its finality. My kids go with us to family funerals and understand what's happened. They've helped/watched me clean game since they walk. The oldest (6) was helping me with some pheasants recently. I showed her the shotgun damage and asked her what she thought a gun would do to her or her sister or her friends.

    I took the oldest to a defensive pistol match and she didn't cope well with the .45s going off indoors. She'll build up to it. She's eager to learn, though. She's working with an airgun, but is still 2 years too young for 4H shoothing sports.

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