Gun safety should be an evolving thing in families. But it should always be the most important thing. Evolving in the sense that as children grow into teenagers and adults their access and knowledge of weapons in the home and use of those weapons should expand. This should be as natural as a young person learning to drive a car. There is a period of supervision in their driving before they are legal to go out on their own. They then receive a permit that has restrictions before they receive their actual license. Firearms should be the same. Access to firearms should always be supervised and curtailed until a young person is of legal age to go unsupervised. Federal law puts this age at 18. My son, who is 17, has a working knowledge of every firearm I own. He can state all of the firearm safety tips and explain them all. He is, by all accounts, a proficient marksman. He does not, however, have access to my handgun without supervision. There is and should be a learning curve when it comes to something as potentially dangerous as a motor vehicle or firearms.
There has been a firearm of some kind in our house since my children were very young. But it always was locked away from little hands. This was a necessary thing. But as my daughter entered college and my son became more familiar with our weapons, his access to them has evolved. Learning how to safely transport weapons and how to clean them has also become part of my son’s education as well as the safety rules. My handgun, when not on my person, had always been secured in the safe. It has now moved into the drawer of my bedside table at night while I sleep. Trust is the key. My trust in my son’s education is important. I have a friend who has a son who has zero access to weapons without direct supervision. All the weapons in their house are always under lock and key. This young man is of a legal age now to purchase a handgun. The trust just isn’t there yet. Safely managing who has access to a weapon of mine is paramount. No adult who I don’t personally know would get blanket trust on handling my weapons. Just because someone is of age would I put blind trust with their competency to handle a gun safely. Training will always be the key. Many questions about firearms and safety can be answered at Go2Firearmsafety.com. It is a great resource for all things involving weapons. My underage son, because of my tutelage, and his steadfastness can be more trusted than most of the adults I know. My wife, a trustworthy person, does not have the same training in firearms as my son, a minor. In the event of a home invasion, I would rather my son take the stance to defend our home over my wife. My wife would also agree! I will however say that my wife, who previously had no interest, has said she would like to begin learning the use of a handgun. This is exciting to me and again, this is an evolution from her original stance.
Now, let’s talk about circumstance. I have, to date, one grandson who is 3 and 21 nieces and nephews ranging from the ages of 3 to 30. Now it should be needless to say, but I will state it for the sake of safety. All my firearms, including rifles, are locked away and or secured on my person when young children are in my house. Period. Legally and ethically young children should have no access to firearms without direct adult supervision. This is something never to be complacent about. Taking the mystery away from firearms by teaching safety and the supervised firearm practice makes a child safer than a child with no experience. Young children should also be schooled in the NRA material for firearm safety. Stop, Don’t Touch, Run Away, Tell A Grown-up. This basic material should be as ingrained as Stop, Drop and Roll. More about this can be found at NRA.org Many special moments and a lifetime’s experience of safety can be gained on the range or while hunting. You can then enjoy recounting your exploits and tall tales while you clean your weapons. Take the proactive approach to safety and be the first person to introduce your children to the lifestyle of gun ownership and responsibility.
Michael Brown is a former U.S. Marine and a Firearm Safety Instructor. He is also an instructor of Krav Maga and a 7th degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.