Talking to Your Kids About Gun Safety with Jerry Miculek

Is it okay to tell your children about your gun? Yes. Make sure they know you have it. Tell them why you have it. Tell them what you will do with it. You should use it around them safely, unloaded, following all safety rules, and allow them to participate in it.

It is crucial to know how to safely store a gun when you do own one for self-defense or target shooting — especially if you have a child in the home. Additionally, your child has to know if you own a gun.

Children who find unlocked, loaded guns unintentionally shoot someone else or themselves every year. Approximately 500 American children die by suicide by a gun every year, and nearly 80 percent of them use a weapon they found at home.

These shootings can be prevented with a variety of programs designed to discourage unauthorized access to firearms by children, which recognizes the importance of responsible storage of firearms by adults.

How to Talk to Kids About Guns?

The subject of guns with children is a subjective matter that each person will have to come to their own conclusion. My first piece of advice is to never make it a mystery. The mystery has to be removed from it for children.

Every child wants to discover and explore. If a parent says ‘No’ or ‘We’re not doing that’ or ‘I don’t want you near that,’ there is not a single child out there who does not want to discover why. What’s wrong with it? What makes it a mystery? I can’t see it; why is that?’

We all know those bad things can happen, and they sometimes do, if they decide to go and explore on their own, especially if they are dealing with firearms. We hear about it too often in the news.

In my opinion, the best way for you to educate your child is to bring them into it the right way, on their own terms, and at the pace, you think they need at the time, which only you, the parent, can know.

Put an end to the mystery.

Introduce them to the world.

Make sure they know you have it. Why do you own it? Let them know. What will you do with it? Let them know.

You should use it around them safely, unloaded, following all safety rules, and allow them to participate in it.

Let them go shooting with you when you believe they are old enough and responsible enough, even if they are just watching. My father introduced me to shooting when I was a child, probably when I was between five and six. This is a common way for children to start out.

Some Advice On Talking To Your Children About Guns

The responsibility of keeping guns out of the hands of children lies with their parents, not with curious children. This means storing firearms and ammunition separate from each other, locked, and unloaded.

The research shows that almost 1.7 million children in the United States live in homes where guns are not stored responsibly by adults.

As long as guns are not all properly stored, children will find unsecured guns, and parents need guidance on where to talk to their children about what to do in such a case.

Following are a few tips developed by Marjorie Sanfilippo, Ph.D., an expert in the scientific study of children and firearms:

Tips For Talking to Young Children About Guns

  • Make it an important part of your child’s safety discussion.
  • It’s better to use simple language, such as: “Don’t touch a gun if you see one. Tell a grownup right away.”
  • It is important to tell children not to touch guns, even if they look like toys.
  • Ensure children that telling an adult that they saw a gun would not get them in trouble.
  • It should be repeated regularly.

Tips for Talking To Adolescents

  • Incorporate it into your general safety discussions about topics such as drunk driving, drugs, and alcohol.
  • Whenever a gun is present, advise your kids to leave the area immediately.
  • Make sure they don’t listen to a friend who says the gun is unloaded or otherwise safe.
  • Help your teen brainstorm ways to escape a gun-filled situation—or give them advice.
  • If they are uncomfortable asking about unsecured guns in other homes, you can offer to do it for them.

For All Ages

  • Address the issue more than once. Communicate with them regularly, just as you would any other important safety issue.
  • You must make the children understand that any situation in which there is an unsupervised gun poses a danger.

You should always remember that discussing guns with children is not a guarantee of safety. According to one study, young children who receive a weeklong gun safety schooling are just as likely as those who did not receive any training to play with a pistol when one is found.

How Can Kids Gain A Better Understanding Of Guns?

Whether you have guns at home or not, it is important to talk to your kids about guns. Guns are dangerous for kids. They should know that. If your child sees a gun, have them follow these rules:

  • This isn’t okay.
  • Even if it looks like a toy, never touch the gun.
  • Don’t go near the gun.
  • You should tell a grownup right away.

When a child or teen uses a gun for recreational purposes, it is very important that you:

  • Unload and lock the gun so that it can’t be used.
  • Bullets should be locked separately, and all keys should be hidden.
  • Be sure your children or teens understand that no gun should be handled without a responsible adult present.
  • It is imperative to teach your child that the guns they use will always be loaded and not pointed at anyone.
  • Show how to handle a gun safely by your own example.

Anything Else?

Some people believe having a gun inside their home will protect them from an intruder. A friend or a family member is more likely to be injured or killed by a gun in the house than an intruder.

Having a gun in your house could also harm or kill someone if:

  • The gun is accidentally fired by a child or teen who finds it.
  • Depression leads to suicidal thoughts in teens or adults. When guns are available, they will go for it.
  • The family gets into a heated argument.
  • Family members or friends are mistaken for intruders.

Gun injuries can be prevented by keeping the gun unloaded and locked up, as well as locking and storing the bullets separately.

Gun Storage: Why Is It So Important?

It’s common for young children to be curious. No matter how many times you discuss gun safety with them, they cannot fully grasp how dangerous guns are.

They may accidentally harm or kill themselves or someone else if they come across a loaded gun.

A teenager’s emotions can cause them to act without thinking. A gun may seem like an easy way out for people who suffer from depression or are feeling down.

Most preteens and teens who kill themselves use a gun that they have at home or one that they’ve borrowed from a family member or friend. Guns and bullets should never be accessible to teens without an adult present.

Depressed individuals are more likely to attempt suicide. Any gun in the home should be removed if someone in the family is depressed or is thinking of suicide.

The guns should be stored, unloaded, and unlocked, and the bullets separated, with the key hidden, if they cannot be removed.

Final Words

Regardless of the child’s age, discussing guns and violence can be difficult. It is your responsibility as a parent to protect your child from all the scary things that exist out there.

By talking openly about guns, you’re doing exactly what you should – protecting your child. And that’s how you talk to your kids about guns.

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