It’s important that gun owners with children educate their children about firearms. Instead of having firearms be mysterious, coveted objects that are off-limits, parents should have direct, open conversations about firearms in the home.

While parents should go to great lengths to keep firearms safely locked up and inaccessible to children, it’s also important to teach children about firearms. This isn’t simply an option for parents, but an essential part of being a parent, as is teaching children about drugs and sex.

Children by nature are curious, which means that parents that simply state guns are off limits to children, will likely have children with questions and growing curiosity. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 1997 alone, more than 2,514 children between the ages of birth to 14 years were in non-fatal gun accidents. While most of these accidents were unintentional or self-inflicted injuries, they could easily have been avoided by proper gun safety.

While most children run across toy guns at some point in their childhoods, it’s important for parents to emphasize proper gun handling techniques, even on non-genuine firearms. When children are young, it’s important for them to understand the type of damage firearms can inflict. This can easily be demonstrated by allowing children to watch parents shoot a target, such as a melon, which allows children to readily view the damage guns can inflict.  Most children are also afraid of loud noises and will be detoured by the noise guns produce.

When children are between eight to 10 years, parents can consider teaching them how to properly load and shoot a weapon. As children are curious by nature, it’s important that parents explain gun safety and safe handling techniques to children.

Additionally, it’s important that parents teach children the rules related to gun safety. For example, if children see a gun, they should stop, never touch the weapon, leave the immediate area and tell an adult as soon as possible. The NRA offers an essential Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program for children pre-kindergarten to third grade. NRA membership is not required and this program helps teach the pros and cons of guns, with the ultimate goal being to protect children.

Just because some parents exercise extreme gun safety at home, locking up weapons and making them inaccessible to children, doesn’t mean children’s friends’ parents exercise the same cautions. This is another reason why it’s essential that children understand how to safely handle and respond to firearms.

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