If society collapsed, would your children know how to handle themselves in a world where knowledge of firearms was elemental to survival? Or, in today's society, say your child visits a friend’s house when their parents aren't home and they find a gun in the closet. Would they know enough to be safe? These are questions that matter to every mother. 41 percent of Americans have a gun in their home, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, so your child is likely to be around guns at some point whether you own one or not. Here are some basics that every parent should teach their children about gun safety.
Set the Example
The most powerful lesson is a good example. If you’re well-versed in gun safety, you'll able to teach your child more effectively. Even if you’re already familiar with guns and gun safety, it’s a good idea to take a refresher course and brush up on the basics so they’re fresh in your mind when you teach your child. The National Rifle Association publishes a directory of training courses taught by qualified instructors that you can browse to find a course near you. Learn with the type of firearm you intend to use or the type of firearm you intend to get your child when they're old enough. If you're looking to save money, try browsing a wide selection of quality used firearms from a trusted online supplier.
Follow Gun Storage Safety Rules
A big part of gun safety is storing your guns where your children can’t get them. As they get older, you can take the opportunity to teach them how to properly store guns.
Project ChildSafe recommends that guns be stored unloaded and locked in a gun vault, safe or cabinet. Ideally, your storage location should not be known by your children, especially if they haven't been taught gun safety. Furthermore, ammunition should be kept in a separate location, as should keys.
For additional protection, you can use a gun locking device to prevent the gun from firing. Yet another option is to break a firearm down and store the parts separately to ensure that it won't be misused.
Guns should always be unloaded and cleaned after use and before storage. Even if you think the gun is already unloaded, double check. Sometimes ammunition remains in a gun’s magazine after it has been fired.
Teach Gun Safety Rules
Learning how to handle guns safely is another part of basic firearms safety. The most fundamental rule is to always point a gun’s muzzle in a safe direction, meaning away from yourself and other people so that if the gun were to go off, it would not harm anyone. When holding a gun at your side, make sure it points to the ground and not at your feet or another part of your body.
Another basic principle is to always assume a gun is loaded. Don’t assume a gun is unloaded just because you took it out of storage or because someone told you it was empty. You never know what someone else may have done with the gun before you had it, and you should never just assume that the magazine is empty without.
A third basic principle is to never load or cock a firearm before you’re ready to actually fire it; keep guns unloaded when not in use. Also, pick guns up with your finger outside the trigger guard rather than inside.
Teach Your Children What to Do if They Find a Gun
There's always the chance that a child will come across a gun before they're adequately trained and old enough to safely handle it. If this happens, they need to know what to do. Make sure they know that if they find an unattended weapon they should get an adult to deal with it rather than trying to handle the gun themselves. Explain that a gun can accidentally go off and should only be handled by someone capable of handling it safely. Some toys resemble guns, so teach your children to be careful about assuming a weapon is a toy and to assume it is real unless they know otherwise. Likewise, teach them to never to point a gun at anyone and to always assume a gun is loaded.
Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.