I got an email the other day from a guy writing an article about firearms. He asked a question about kids and guns, which prompted a rant I'm not sure he was looking for.
How do we stop kids from thinking that guns are toys? How do we prevent little kids from shooting their parents, siblings, dogs, themselves and whatever else happens to be in front of the muzzle?
Well, in my non-expert opinion (which, thank God I have, because the experts appear to be overwhelmingly ill informed) we can approach this several ways:
We can use fear to teach children to never, ever touch anything that looks like a gun.
"Guns are bad. Guns are dangerous. Don't ever touch them."
Which pretty much ensures that these children will be the first to pick up and play with a firearm he knows nothing about. We teach them that drugs are bad, too. Thank God that's never inspired any curiosity...
Or we can approach it the same way we do fire safety in school. "This is a gun. If you find a gun, do not pick it up. Call an adult immediately." Sort of like that whole, "never play with matches" thing. Because, certainly none of us ever played with matches the very same day that the school had the presentation.
Or, we can maybe try a little common sense.
I have three children.
I also have a Glock.
My older children have been shooting. My oldest knows how to clear a slide and even take down a Glock. She's 12.
What does that mean exactly? It means that my oldest children's curiosity about firearms has been mostly satisfied. It means that I am somewhat confident that they are informed enough to never point a firearm in an unsafe direction. It means that instead of being afraid of guns, they have developed a healthy respect for the destructive nature of firearms.
It does not mean that I leave them unattended, with firearms laying around on tables and floors. It does not mean that they are aware of where the gun is kept when it isn't on me. As much as I trust my children, I know the appeal of showing off.
And so the answer to how do we stop babies from accidentally shooting shit? Common fucking sense.
Don't leave your guns in your kids' toy boxes. Or on the floor. Or on the kitchen table. If you can't manage this? Don't have kids.
If you're worried about kids finding guns at other people's house? Teach them.
Don't keep your gun in a shoebox in your closet. Who the fuck does that anyway? If you want to hide a gun in your home, at least put it somewhere inaccessible to your children.
Most importantly, even if you've taught your children to respect the power of a firearm, do not underestimate the pull of showing off. Teaching your kids about guns doesn't make them tiny adults that know about guns. It makes them kids that know stuff some of their friends don't.
Again, this is only my opinion, but the number of accidental child shootings in my house?