One Sunday morning, a mother from North Carolina was shocked when her son came home shaking, telling her that their eight-year-old neighbor shot another boy next door. At first, she thought her son was talking about toy guns, but when he said that it was a real gun, she trembled.
Who would have thought that a young boy would find a gun in their shed and use it to shoot another boy? Shocking, yet, there are many similar accidents that happen each year across the country.
In 2012 to 2013, almost 100 kids have been killed in accidental shootings. Almost 65 percent of these deaths happened inside the kids’ home or vehicle and mostly, the gun used is legally owned but not secured.
With the prevalence of these accidents, parents who keep guns at home should be extra careful in securing their guns and teaching their kids about gun safety and the dangers of the unauthorized use of guns.
5 Gun Safety Rules for Kids
If you keep a gun at home, setting rules with your kids about guns is important to keep them safe from harm. Here are five basic rules for kids about guns:
1. Kids Should Know That Guns Aren’t Toys
Take time to teach your children about guns and its dangers. They should understand that guns are not toys that they could play with. Instead, they are dangerous materials that should only be used by qualified adults.
Observe your kids if they include guns in their play. Usually, a child’s play reflects what your kids think and want. If you see a hint of violence in their play, you should talk to your kids.
As much as possible, if you really want to shy them away from using guns, do not give them toy guns. Though some consider toy guns as a distraction, they can still cultivate violence and encourage children to use real guns.
2. Kids Shouldn’t Watch Shows Containing Gun Violence
One of the most influential factors to kids’ behavior is the shows that they watch. Violent shows, may it be a movie or a cartoon, may have a negative influence on kids.
According to studies, kids who watch shows with gun violence have a tendency to be more curious about guns and its use.
If you have a gun at home, it is best to screen the shows that your kids watch. Sticking to cartoons is not always safe since there are many cartoons now that show the use of guns, and even worse, taking it lightly.
3. Kids Shouldn’t Have Any Access to Guns
Of course, no matter how you teach your kids to avoid guns, they may still be curious and if you just leave your gun within their reach there is a high tendency that they would try to use it.
Make sure that your gun and ammunition is out of your kids’ reach. It is advisable for you to keep it inside a gun safe and use a trigger locker.
Before keeping the gun inside your safe, make sure that it is clean and unloaded. Do not forget to lock the safe and put it on top of a cabinet or in any place that cannot be reached by your kids.
If your safe has keys, you should also keep them out of reach. Meanwhile, if your safe uses number combinations, make sure that only you or any qualified gun user in your home knows the password code.
Do not use a password that can be easily guessed by your kids such as your birthday or wedding anniversary. Think of number combinations that only you know.
4. Kids Should Report to an Adult If They See Guns
Aside from your home, your kids may also encounter guns outside, whether at their school, on their friend’s house, or even on the streets. You should instruct your kids that if they see a gun, especially in their school, they should immediately inform their teacher.
In most cases, their teacher or school guard should be the one who would handle the situation after they report it. So, after reporting, they should also stay in a place far from where they have seen the gun.
5. Kids Should Know the Basic Gun Safety Procedures
In the case of emergencies related to gun violence, your kids should know what they should do. Helping them understand basic gun safety procedures may help.
For example, what will your kids do if a younger sibling accidentally shoots someone or something? You must teach them that first, they should see if it is now safe to move.
If it is safe, they should try to take the gun away from the younger sibling. Most kids who have fired a gun accidentally are in shock.
When they take the gun away, make sure that they do not touch the trigger or point it to anyone. Then, they should immediately call you and 911. It is very important that they know how to call you or 911 for emergencies.
5 Gun Safety Rules for Adults
1. Be Aware of Your Children
It is your responsibility as a gun owner to practice gun safety measures, especially when you keep guns at home. Most accidental shooting incidents happen at home, mainly among children and teens.
Your kids should be the top priority in gun safety measures. They are the most vulnerable to gun hazards, especially because of their inherent curiosity. Talk to them about guns. Make sure that they learn and understand basic firearm safety procedure.
For example, you can instruct them that when they see a gun, they should refrain from touching it and instead report its presence immediately to an adult.
Your kids should know that these weapons are harmful things and not toys that they could play with. They should understand and respect the power behind guns.
To achieve this, you must not let them watch shows that involve gun violence, especially cartoons who take these matters lightly. When they see their favorite TV characters shoot people, they might have a tendency to imitate the action.
Also, observe your kids’ play and see if they include gun shooting. If possible, avoid buying your kids toy guns because those can encourage violence and may later lead to the real gun shooting.
If your kids have friends who are visiting your home, inform their parents that you are keeping a gun at home. Likewise, if your kids are visiting a friend’s house, ask their friend’s parents if there is a gun in their home.
2. Know How to Handle Guns Securely
As a gun owner, it is important for you to know how to handle guns securely. Read the manual included in your gun. There should be instructions indicating how you can use your gun safely.
If you are a first-time gun owner and user, you can also enroll in classes that teach safety in gun usage. Your mentors can give you instructions on how to handle guns, especially at home.
If you are not shooting yet, always keep your gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep your fingers away from the trigger. Accidents mostly happen by unintentionally pulling the trigger.
Also, if you are cleaning a gun after use, make sure that it is unloaded and not pointed in a direction where you can shot someone. Never hold a loaded gun except if you are ready to fire.
3. Don’t Keep Your Firearms Loaded
When you are just hanging out at home, make sure that you do not leave your guns loaded. If you think that leaving your gun loaded even while you’re at home, will reduce the risk of an invader this is not true.
It is better to keep everything in one place where it will be better to get everything all at once, and then load the gun on the go. This will be a better option.
4. Do Not Point the Gun at Anything
Even if the gun is not loaded, do not attempt to point the gun at anything especially anyone, because even if it is not loaded, there is still the possibility that you could forget to take out the magazine out of the gun.
Plus, it will become a very bad habit that your kids can imitate if they see you pointing the gun pointed at something or someone while the gun is loaded.
5. Invest in a Gun Safe
Most people who buy guns for safety only think of how to use it properly, especially if there are emergencies for self-defense. However, it is also very important to focus on keeping the gun safe and away from the reach of children, teens, or burglars.
Around 70 percent of gun accidents involving kids could have been prevented if the gun owner only followed gun safety procedures. This proves that keeping a gun safe from unauthorized use is a necessity and not an option.
Though teaching a child about guns is important, it is never enough. Kids can be really playful and curious so it is important not to give them access to guns.
The first step is to clean and unload the gun before storing. Unloading your gun can help you avoid accidental shootings.
Next, you should store and lock it in a gun safe or any locked case. Gun safes might be a bit expensive but if you have a child at home, it is a necessary investment.
A good quality gun safe is sturdy and durable. It should be waterproof so the gun is safe from harsh weather conditions such a rain, snow, or storms. When exposed to moisture, guns may malfunction and cause accidents that can put you at risk too.
It should also be dust-free and fire-proof so the safe can be able to withstand fires and high temperature. This feature can also prevent the safe from corroding easily.
After placing the gun inside the safe, keep it locked and away from your kids’ reach. Keys should also be hidden from the kids.
If you are using a safe with number combinations as passwords, you are the only one who should have access to the password code. Never use a password that is easy to guess such as a family member’s birthday.
For more safety measures, you can anchor your safe so no one else would be able to move it. You can also store the ammunition in a separate case. If you can, buy another locked case for the ammunitions.
If you have more money, you can use trigger locks to avoid accidental firing. In some states, gun owners are required by the government to use a gun trigger locks. These locks can make sure that no one can use the gun without your permission.
Always Safety First
Just remember, never to leave your gun in a place accessible to your kids. To do this, it is important to avoid using your gun at home.
Having a gun at home has had a negative connotation because of all the firearm accidents reported by the media. However, as long as you practice basic firearm safety procedures, you can still ensure the safety of your loved ones, especially your child.
Proper guidance is important in avoiding any gun accident. Aside from the rules mentioned above, you should be able to make sure that your kids are always on your watch or under proper adult supervision.