How young is too young and how old is too late????

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Thread: How young is too young and how old is too late????

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    Member Array J0eyg86's Avatar
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    How young is too young and how old is too late????

    How young is too young to introduce a child to guns and gun safety and how old is too late? Iím sure this question has been brought up many of times before and I know a lot of people are going to say itís ultimately up to me but i would like some opinions to better form my own.

    A little back ground my fiancťs nephew who is 3 years 2 months old has come to live with us on what looks like is going to be a long term permanent basis with neither his mother nor father being around or being in the picture. Originally it looked as if it was going to be something short term/temporary basis but given that his parents seem to care about other things more than him itís going to be long term (sry a little vent their canít believe they would to that to him). My question comes about because myself and my fiancťe do not have any children of our own, and when everything was expected to be a short term basis our opinion was to just keep the fire arms locked up and keep him sheltered from them it was his parents place to make the decision on how they wanted him to be raised in relation to weapons and things of that nature. Now that he is going to be with us for long term and in all reality we are now his parents on a daily basis our opinion has changed and we feel that we should introduce him to them and make him aware of them and start to instill gun safety in him. However we donít know when to start. Iíve had a few different opinions thrown out to me going in both directions. Someone told me to get him a pellet gun and let him shoot that and learn safety using that and start now. Others have told me use the pellet gun but wait a little longer till his attention span is greater and he will be able to comprehend and retain things better, maybe as late as 5 years old and still keep him fully sheltered at this age level. Iíve also been told at this point and time just teach him never to touch a gun and some basic safety and donít let him start shooting till heís a little older.

    So i guess the questions really are, Is 3 years old two young?? Should we wait a little bit?? Should we have already started?? Should we just be doing a few basic things with him now and more later??

    Please give me your honest opinions and personal experiences if you donít mind. I would really like to know what everyone thinks and help me form a better opinion of my own. We both really want to do whats best for him but could really use some guidance on this one. Thanks everyone for the info.

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    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    First, hats off to you and your GF for taking on this responsibility. I mean raising this kid.

    3 is a little young. I think its not as much of an age thing, but more a maturity thing.

    My son is almost 6 and all I'll let him do is sit in my lap and shoot my .223 with me.

    He's not quit mature enough to fully understand the basic rules of gun safety.

    He understands the rules, but not the consequences of not following them.
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    VIP Member Array raevan's Avatar
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    I was given a BB gun at 3 and a 22 at 5. My Father looked at how mature we were. Two of my older brothers never got their BB guns till they were 5 and then got their 22s at 6. I talked to my son about guns from the age of 3 and gave him a pellet pistol at the age of 5. I showed him how to shoot at 5 and talked about the safty rules. once he showed me hes was able to shoot the pellet pistol safely, I started letting him shoot the 22 at 6. when he was 7 he was allowed to go with me to shoot the 30-30 and see what damage it could do. Learning at a young age that a firearm is not a toy is very important.

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    Member Array J0eyg86's Avatar
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    thanks

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    Three is too young.

    Keep it in a safe or on your person. Doing that may actually be the law where you are anyway. I think that in most places you are responsible if a child does something with a gun; child endangerment being one example of possible charges if for example the kid picks it up, goes in the backyard and someone notices, calls the authorities. No negligent discharge would be necessary to brand you as negligent.

    On an entirely separate point---please, please, please, if your GF is going to take responsibility for the child, make sure she (and you once married), have the proper legal guardianship for doing so. If this present arrangement is just a casual thing that fell into your lap, and you guys are just being really good guys, it could backfire on you. For example, do you have the legal authority to take the kid to a doctor, get him admitted to a hospital? Will your GF's health insurer recognize the child as a covered dependent? Will you be able to enroll the kid in Day Care? Later, will you be able to enroll the kid in school?

    If you have not already done so, please see a real attorney who practices family law for additional guidance. It is one thing to take the child into your care for a weekend or a week, and quite another for you to have the child on a
    long term basis.

    Also, you two will be investing lots of love and hope in this child as s/he will in you. If the parents are really no good, you don't want them to show up out of the blue two years from now and ruin the kids life by
    taking him back to a less loving environment. The separation will "kill" you two emotionally, and do the same to the kid.

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    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    +1 on Hopyard's advice.

    Check out the youtube vids for Eddie Eagle to start even if he has no interest in guns. Other kid's homes will have them.

    If he's curious at all, it's time to start teaching. I like the "you can see it anytime you want, just ask" attitude. Address the curiosity right away, then it becomes no big deal.

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    Member Array J0eyg86's Avatar
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    Thank you for the advice and I did forget to mention everything is legal the state did step in judges signature is on paper. What could happen years down the road unfortunately still is not a 100% guarantee but it would have to go through the judge again. I do like that theory of you can see it whenever you want just ask i didnít think of that. I am leaning more towards that side of waiting longer till he is a little older. And yes everything is locked away so he canít get to at this time. Thank you for all the advice

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    How young is too young to introduce a child to guns and gun safety and how old is too late? Iím sure this question has been brought up many of times before and I know a lot of people are going to say itís ultimately up to me but i would like some opinions to better form my own.
    As soon as a child has interests in learning about new things, gun-proofing the child can begin. That can start anywhere around the time the child is exhibiting basic reasoning. At this point, I believe a child can follow safety guidance and instruction to good benefit. A child at this point can learn that a firearm is a common, ordinary part of daddy's (or mommy's) life, that they are items to be examined only with the parents, etc.

    A child should be able to reason rationally and fairly well, know right from wrong, and be able to follow direction fairly well. Somewhere around 5-7yrs of age should be about right. At this point, I believe a child can learn much from basic firearms instruction. The Eddie Eagle program is a decent program of instruction, and it starts with safety very early.

    As for when a child should be able to deal with gun handling and the firing of guns, many people find that intelligent and responsible children can do quite well as early as age 7 or 8. Here on DC, I have read about some folks introducing their children to actual firearms handling (with a basic single-shot BB gun or .22LR rifle [ie, Cricket]) as young as 6yrs of age. Depends on the child and the instructor(s). Some shooting clubs also have very decent young shooter sporting programs, which can be used to get a child into the fun and competition with firearms.

    My recommendation would be to check with the NRA's Eddie Eagle program for children. Each child and teacher is going to be different. By age 3, certainly, I'd be comfortable starting with the gun-proofing safety mantras; by age 5-8, with introduction to firearms handling and shooting; and by 8-11 or so, owning a first rifle for marksmanship and potential light hunts. YMMV.
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    It's a matter of progression. Start with the basics and safety when "young" . ... then as you go along, it will expand more and more. You'll know when they are responsible enough and ready for the next step, and the next step. You should know what they are capable of and what they are not.

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    All good posts, and I would add one thing. Don't make the gun/s a mystery. Don't present the child with "no, that will hurt you" and leave the room with the gun to hide it. If you make the gun a challenge, and "forbidden", kids will eventually find it, and handle it. I left a disabled air pistol laying around when my boys were about 3 or 4. Eventually they found it, and began to ask questions. They asked, and I answered.... not a class. After a while, the "gun" lost it's curiosity appeal, and they roamed past it without so much as a glance. As they grew, their questions got more detailed, and that led to range time. Safety first, and it's worked out very well.

    Just my two cents....
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    Yeah I also think 3 is too young. I have a 5 year old daughter who I will probably take out and allow to shoot my single shot .22 rifle sometime between now and when she turns 6. As it is right now, she knows we have guns in the house and she is allowed to handle them, with permission and under supervision. The key is transition into it, rather than suddenly taking them to the range and handing them a firearm and expecting them to use it then. I would start out letting the kid handle the weapon, maybe by the time they're 4 1/2 or so (this will vary depending on the individual child of course). Probably by 5 1/2 they could actually shoot a little. You really do have to make the judgment call based on the individual child, but personally those are probably the youngest ages I would feel comfortable with. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by usmcj View Post
    All good posts, and I would add one thing. Don't make the gun/s a mystery. Don't present the child with "no, that will hurt you" and leave the room with the gun to hide it. If you make the gun a challenge, and "forbidden", kids will eventually find it, and handle it. I left a disabled air pistol laying around when my boys were about 3 or 4. Eventually they found it, and began to ask questions. They asked, and I answered.... not a class. After a while, the "gun" lost it's curiosity appeal, and they roamed past it without so much as a glance. As they grew, their questions got more detailed, and that led to range time. Safety first, and it's worked out very well.

    Just my two cents....
    Amen!!! I started teaching my kids at 4 with an air rifle, by 6 they were shooting skeet...they know the safety rules as well or better than any adult and adhere to them as emphatically as I do (I am a weapons instructor in the Military). The mystery is gone and all is safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Three is too young.

    Keep it in a safe or on your person. Doing that may actually be the law where you are anyway. I think that in most places you are responsible if a child does something with a gun; child endangerment being one example of possible charges if for example the kid picks it up, goes in the backyard and someone notices, calls the authorities. No negligent discharge would be necessary to brand you as negligent.

    On an entirely separate point---please, please, please, if your GF is going to take responsibility for the child, make sure she (and you once married), have the proper legal guardianship for doing so. If this present arrangement is just a casual thing that fell into your lap, and you guys are just being really good guys, it could backfire on you. For example, do you have the legal authority to take the kid to a doctor, get him admitted to a hospital? Will your GF's health insurer recognize the child as a covered dependent? Will you be able to enroll the kid in Day Care? Later, will you be able to enroll the kid in school?

    If you have not already done so, please see a real attorney who practices family law for additional guidance. It is one thing to take the child into your care for a weekend or a week, and quite another for you to have the child on a
    long term basis.

    Also, you two will be investing lots of love and hope in this child as s/he will in you. If the parents are really no good, you don't want them to show up out of the blue two years from now and ruin the kids life by
    taking him back to a less loving environment. The separation will "kill" you two emotionally, and do the same to the kid.
    Great advice...take it!
    This will prevent emotional problems adults CAN handle, but it will destroy children. Life is cruel...prepare and plan ahead (as much as possible)!
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    Here's my 2 cents: You are already "teaching" a child about guns whether you know it or not. Kids immitate adults. And by this I mean never do anything with a gun that you would not want your kid to do someday soon.

    I personally think that as soon as they are really able to communicate that they should get the idea that guns are to be taken seriously and not handled in any way without an adult. Formalized training could come starting with "play" or non-operating plastic guns.

    My last thought is that guns should not be introduced as toys. That's just me. Toy guns - that just seems like an bad thing for kids. Leave the toy guns for adults. And real guns for kids as soon as they are old enough.

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    Kidless

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    My wife and I had five children (now all married and left home) and now we have eight grandchildren. I have been instrumental in introducing all of our children (and some of our grandchildren) to guns, gun handling, and, of course gun safety. There is just no pat answer as to when is too young. Observe each child for development and interest. If they aren't interested at an early age - don't push it! Stay with it on a persistent and consistent basis and the kid will tell you when he/she is ready to go to the next step. They are all so very different.
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