Experience is a powerful tool. So, too is education. Just as powerful of tools, however, are ignorance and naiveté. One combination; experience and education, leads to good decision making skills, while the combination of ignorance and naiveté leads to accidents. When one of these combinations ends up with a firearm in the hands of a child, which would you rather it be? When your child becomes an adult and purposefully seeks out the possession of a firearm, to what degree would you want them to be prepared for that responsibility?
It is possible to educate your children about the dangers of guns without exposing them to actual firearms. The problem with that though, is that curiosity can be a much more powerful motivator than experience-free education can be a deterrent. Children are often drawn to taboo items and behaviors when they lack a fundamental understanding of the subject. To avoid this danger, we must add experience to the education in order to create a fundamental understanding of the safe handling of a firearm, the dangers of firearms misuse, and to remove the curiosity that can drive a child to make poor decisions. From a very early age, children should be taught about the concept of firearms, just as you would teach manners. This allows the parents to better assess when little Timmy is mature enough to shoot his first gun, as well as setting a foundation for Timmy’s range rules.
Once the parents agree that their child shows the maturity and has the dexterity/strength to handle a firearm, it is time to hit the range. The first gun of choice depends on what the parents see fit and how well the child can be expected to handle a firearm. I was started on BB guns that moved up to high power pellet rifles, followed by .22 rifles. Some will choose to go straight to the .22 and skip BB guns. Neither option is wrong, so long as the proper precautions are taken.
Once Timmy learns about the proper use of guns, how they function, and sees firsthand what type of damage they can do, the gun will not be a mystical item that lures him into making bad decisions with horrible consequences. Instead, he will be the friend who protects the other kids from a found firearm. He will grow up to be the adult who can choose to arm himself in a manner that is safe. And he will be far less likely to view guns as a toy, but as the tool that they are.
All of this comes with planning and careful execution. If you are not properly trained, then seek training before teaching your children, or take them to a trainer. This education, however, is not a replacement for proper firearms storage. Each home must make their own decisions on how to store guns based on a wide range of factors that go far beyond the education of the household children. In the end, no matter our methods, the result must be teaching the next generation to not fear firearms, but to respect them, be proficient with them, and to understand their legitimate uses.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.