We hear a lot about guns in the news today, and gun control is hot-button issue that everyone seems to have an opinion about. As parents, you understand the importance of keeping your kids safe and helping them avoid dangerous situations. But just because you have kids at home doesn’t mean you can’t have a gun to protect yourself and your family. If you’re in the market for a new gun, it’s important to be responsible and teach your children to have respect and be safe around firearms. After all, hundreds of accidental deaths happen every year because of poor firearm training for children. Here are five ways to create a safe, gun-friendly atmosphere in your home:
- Keep guns and ammunition locked separately. Guns should be stored in a safe place out of the reach of children, preferably in a gun safe or with a gun lock. Be sure to store ammunition separate from the gun so a child or intruder can’t easily load the gun.
- Talk to your kids. The most important part about gun safety is to talk to your kids about it and take away some of the mystery of guns. There’s no recommended age to talk to your kids about firearms, but some experts recommend starting when show interest in real or toy guns. Be open and honest with your kids and answer any questions they have—some parents have learned the hard way that not being direct enough with their children only piques their curiosity and makes them want to play with the gun more.
- Teach your child not to touch guns. The NRA offers gun safety training for young children that teaches them to stop and not touch if they find a gun. They should leave the area right away and tell an adult about what they found. These guidelines are great for young children who you feel aren’t ready to be taught the proper way to handle a gun. Although most children who find a gun are naturally curious and want to pick it up, teaching them to leave it and tell an adult can be live-saving.
- Set rules. Create a list of family gun safety rules that your children can easily understand and follow. Aside from not touching a gun they find, they should also know the right and wrong ways for adults to use guns. Rules include never pointing a gun at yourself or another person, even as a joke, to keep the gun unloaded until it is ready to be used, and to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- Provide children with the right training. If your child is at an age where you feel they could handle a gun responsibly, be sure to put them in an age-appropriate class that will cover everything they need to know. The NRA offers classes around the country, as do many local gun and sporting goods stores. Providing your child with the correct safety tools can make a huge difference in their experience with firearms.
How a family handles gun safety is a personal decision, but parents should remember that they are ultimately responsible for their children’s safety, especially if they choose to bring a gun into the home. Teaching your children gun safety from an early age can give them the skills to stay safe in any situation.