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Children and Handguns

1010 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  rachilders
Came across this info and thought it might instill some worthy comments on an important subject.

Children and Handguns
Police officers with families -- people who routinely have their weapons in their houses with small children -- know that it is not the combination of handguns and children that is deadly, but the combination of handguns and ignorance! To combat this, we must educate our kids. There are a number of parts to doing this:

Teaching About The Firearm
If Your Child Sees A Firearm
Demonstrating The Force Of A Firearm
The NRA has a very nice program called Eddie Eagle that promotes child gun safety, also. Eddie Eagle is never shown touching a firearm, and he does not promote firearm ownership or use. The program prohibits the use of Eddie Eagle mascots anywhere that guns are present. The Eddie Eagle Program has no agenda other than accident prevention -- ensuring that children stay safe should they encounter a gun.

Teaching About The Firearm
"Mommy, how does that work?"

At around the age of 4 or 5, they are starting to watch TV and learn the nonsense it teaches them about guns; at this age, they are also, however, usually too weak to work the action on a double-action revolver, or to pull the slide back on an autoloader. This is the time to start educating them. Teach them the difference between a loaded and an unloaded gun, and how to tell the two apart. Teach them the basics of safety -- to always assume a gun is loaded and therefore dangerous if it's not in the hands of someone who is educated.

Also, do NOT NOT NOT simply state, "Touch that gun and I'll tan your hide!" This tells the kid that the gun is off-limits and therefore irresistible, and it does not impart knowledge! A far better approach, and that used by the parents of the man who taught me to shoot, is to involve your kids in the gun cleaning, show them what it looks like and how it works (Distasteful? Wake up -- so is a white coffin), and tell them explicitly that they may look at the guns whenever they want -- not to play with them, but to learn about them -- as long as they have your supervision. They are not to take out or look at the guns alone. This approach imparts knowledge to offset the effects of TV, and removes some of that illicit veil from the devices. When the latest action hero holds one, it's a thrill -- when Mommy is taking it apart and explaining it, that illicit air is dissipated.

If Your Children See A Firearm
"Mommy, Janey showed me her parents' gun today."

There are four basic rules that you must teach your child if they should see a firearm. These rules are the following:

Stop what they are doing.

Do not touch the firearm.

Leave the area immediately.

Tell an adult.

If your child should be in another playmate's home and that child should show them their parents' gun, your child should leave immediately. However (and this is a big point), your child should also not scream, "I'm TELLING!!!!" at the top of their lungs and run out. If the other child is not properly educated (and if they are waving around the family handgun to other kids, they aren't), they could pull the trigger.

And when your child arrives home and tells you what happened, you should call the other child's parents, not with the intention of ratting on the kid so he gets spanked, but instead to say, "This happened today. I think it's time to give the kids a gun safety talk together and take them to the range." Be cooperative and pleasant.

Demonstrating the Force of a Firearm
"Mommy, can I go shooting with you this weekend?"

And do take them to the range. Many kids (and a hell of a lot of adults) have a very skewed vision of what guns, especially handguns, are like and what they can do. On television, the hero shoots the bad guy once, he falls over, and that's it; guns are seen as delivering what Ayoob called a "sort of remote-control punch" -- bad, bad image as well as being entirely untruthful. You can show your child the truth even with a small .22 by bringing them to a range and showing them what the device is capable of doing. One woman interviewed in Paxton Quigley's Armed and Female stated that she preferred to use filled soda cans. Other people use fruit. (And -- always! -- ask the range director if you can do this before splattering atomized orange peel or Dr. Pepper all over their backstop!) At any rate, what you want to do is simulate the damage that a firearm can inflict on a person or property.

The filled soda can is wonderful for that -- do not use an empty. The terrible damage that a bullet inflicts on a body comes about because of the way the interior of the body -- the fluidy internal organs -- transmits the shock wave to the rest of the body. When you shoot at a hollow can, you just poke a hole in it. When you shoot at a filled one, the liquid inside transfers the jolt to the entire can and blows it to smithereens. This is what happens with a person -- and it's surprisingly violent with a filled soda can. It may shock you as well as your kids.

If you have male children, this is an especially important demonstration since little boys are just learning their roles as males in this culture (and some screwed up roles they are but that's a rant for another time) and handguns are linked arbitrarily but undeniably to masculinity. Even if a little boy is unsure of himself around guns, he may act macho because he thinks he should. Hearing the sound that the firearm makes and seeing the destruction on the other end of the range when the soda can is blown to confetti is a good way to make him lose his "macho," and set his mind to learning.

The Right Equipment for Maximum Child Safety
You can also help defuse the combination of handguns and little kids by the proper choice of handgun. An autoloader with a stiff slide is a fantastic choice since you can keep it loaded and ready within less than a second for you, but unusable by your youngster, who is too weak to cycle the slide.

Another wonderful option is called a Magna-Trigger conversion, available on Ruger and Smith & Wesson revolvers. (For additional information, send $3 for a brochure to Tarnhelm Supply Co., Inc. 431 High St., Boscawen, NH, 03303-3800, or call 603 796 2551. You can also check out their web page at This is a special compltetely ambidextrous modification to your revolver which renders the gun unusable by anyone not wearing a special magnetic ring. Don't let the mumbo-jumbo fool you; this is an extremely reliable conversion. You can simply wear your ring to bed and around the house. If your child gets hold of the gun, they will not be able to do a thing with it, but the minute it's in your hand, it's live. (This is also true with robbers or muggers -- and another great reason to get a Magna-Trigger conversion even if you don't have kids. In the extremely unlikely event that an assailant is able to get your gun away from you, they can pull the trigger until Doomsday -- you're safe.)

Another modification called Magloc exists for semi-automatic handguns, but I have not operated it and hence can say nothing about it. More information can be found at

As far as rendering a gun inoperable in order to protect children from injury goes, almost all of the advice commonly found will work wonders for doing just this -- the combination or key lock through the frame, storing the ammunition out of reach or in a locked safe, and so on. The problem is that this will also render the gun useless for you in a pressure situation. I've already mentioned how very fine motor control goes to pot when you are hyped up on adrenaline, as you will be should someone break into your home. Are you really going to be able to fumble with that combination lock in anything remotely approaching enough time to use the gun to scare off that robber at 2am in dim light when you don't want to turn on the bedroom light in the first place because you don't want to let him know you're awake? Are you really totally confident in your ability to get the ammunition out of the downstairs hall closet without alerting that rapist prowling around down there when the gun is in the nightstand next to your bed?

Put simply -- hell, no! Rendering a gun inoperable without major contortions renders it totally useless. When a gun is needed, it is needed badly and immediately -- the only person you'll be stopping from using the gun is yourself, and that's the last thing you want if the chips are down. Get an autoloader with a slide too stiff for your child to cycle. Invest in a Magna-Trigger conversion if you have a revolver. Better yet, just plain old teach your kid about gun safety. The only weapon that can render a gun safe is the weapon of knowledge -- and you don't need a permit for that. As I've stated above, this may be distasteful to you -- teaching your child the ins and outs of death-dealing machines -- but in that case, you may be one of the rare parents who considers this more distasteful than going to a child's funeral, even your own. This is an extremely difficult subject, make no mistake. If a parent has lost a child to such a cataclysmic tragedy, the last thing anyone wants to be caught dead saying is, "You could have prevented it." But, and I am truly sorry if this offends anyone -- the far, far majority of these tragedies are preventable. An unpleasant truth, but it's a truth that saves lives, so it's worth the telling.
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· Premium Member
25,596 Posts
KY - pretty much good stuff - and sure - Safety and education are paramount - in fact really they are same thing. Pure threats of harsh discipline are not on their own in the least useful - counter productive in fact.

I do also consider a demo of the destructive force of a gun to be another item on the ''education agenda'' - tho picking the right time to do this may be important, as is the method used to do a demo. Perhaps the ubiquitous melon comes out well as the ''victim''. No wish to frighten but more to make sure the destructive aspects make visual impression.

I am glad I am way beyond kids myself but - my son, who has just gotten his first carry piece, will have to address this as his lil' girl is getting closer to end of her first year and his new son will come along early next year.

He will have to ensure his total control of the piece (or pieces, later) and either be sure he has possession and/or - adequate security. Later on of course I shall hope he educates and then gets them to the range when old enough.

· Premium Member
26,492 Posts
Education while the kids are young is always a good idea. You really have to work to counteract the stuff, mostly bad, that they will pick up from the TV.

· Registered
112 Posts
I think I was four or five at the most when my dad gave me a "real" gun. It was a fairly realistic replica lever action cap gun that did not fire anything. I had to treat that gun as if it was a functioning firing rifle at all times and if I was ever caught not treating it like such I was in pretty big trouble. This happened for two years then when I turned six or seven I got a BB gun and then at 8 I got a four ten. I always understood how serious guns were and how to treat them because my dad was so diligent with my first toy gun. I plan on doing the same or a very similar method when I have kids.

· Super Moderator
19,365 Posts
I started at 2 yrs. old with my kids. Pretty much taught em all that is written above. Even showed em the destructive power. Seems to have worked. They never tried to get into my firearms, even before I had a gun safe. (trigger locks were in place). Now They both enjoy shooting with dad at the range.

· Registered
940 Posts
I teach 8-18 year olds with the sanction of the state as a 4H handgun instructor.

The kids that want to learn, will. We get them in the program.

The kids who are going to be bad, well, we can try to reach them.

I was one of the latter, but I came around by the time I was older. ;)

You can teach a lot with a destructive power demonstration, or leave some of it to peer pressure if you're teaching in a group. If all the kids are handing things safely, the new kids with some proper instruction will do it as well.

After all, the kids who *want* to learn to shoot want to be there, and they're going to be easy.

· Registered
933 Posts
I have three 6 year old boys (triplets) that are curious about my guns. They've seen and held guns that are unloaded while under their parents supervision, of course, and have been to the gun range with their mother and I to see us shoot. Personally and from prior experience with my three older children, I feel they are still a bit too young to comprehend just how dangerous a gun can be. To be frank, I also know many ADULTS who still don't seem to comprehend the dangers of a gun handled carelessly! Anyway, while I don't want them to be afraid of guns, I want my kids to respect a firearm for what it can do and the harm it can cause if misused. My plan is when they are a few years older, I'll begin taking them to the range to show them the safe way to use a firearm and I'll also show them what a bullet can do. Nothing seems to impress someone, of any age, like seeing a watermelon or empty milk jug filled with colored water explode when hit by a bullet. Afterwards, I remind them that's what would happen to someone's head if it were struck by carelessly fired and aimed bullet. They seem to get the point quickly!

I don't want my kids to be scared of handling my guns when I'm not there simply because they'll get in trouble if they're caught, they already know that. What I want them to realize is that a gun is not a toy but a dangerous object when not handled properly and safely. They and/or someone else can be seriously injured or killed if a gun isn't treated with the respect it's due. Luckily, the school board in my area decided that gun safety will be taught to our kids starting in kindergarten. Local policeman use the NRA Eddie Eagle program, which includs sending home "Don't touch" stickers and firearm safety books. It's a good program that should be done at every school. Still, safety begins at home and it's up to me to build on the foundation the school started. This will also apply when they begin to learn to drive a car. In fact, I'll quickly remind them of the number of people killed and injured in car accidents compared to those harmed by guns every year!

That's how I feel about my guns and my children. Not much different that anyone else I suspect. Some kids are mature enough to handle exposure to guns and their capabilities at 6. On the other hand, I know adults that are 56 who I wouldn't trust alone with a firearm! As parents, and especially as gun owners, it's our responsibility to protect our children from harm not only from outside sources but from themselves. Nobody knows your kids better than you. When (or if) you think they are ready to be exposed to firearms is your decision - no, it's your obligation - as a parent. It may be at 6 or it may be at 16, but until you do, make sure you protect them from harming themselves or others. Also, talk to their friends parents about gun safety, particularly if you know the parents have guns at home. I don't know which would be my worse nightmare, hearing one of my kids had accidentally been shot by a friend or one of their friends had been shot by one of my children.
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