PARENTS' GUIDE TO GUN
In a home where guns
are kept, the degree of safety a child has rests
squarely on the child's parents.
Parents who accept the
responsibility to learn, practice and teach gun safety
rules will ensure their child's safety to a much greater
extent than those who do not. Parental responsibility
does not end, however, when the child leaves the home.
According to federal
statistics, there are guns in approximately half of all
U.S. households. Even if no one in your family owns a
gun, chances are that someone you know does. Your child
could come in contact with a gun at a neighbor's house,
when playing with friends, or under other circumstances
outside your home.
It is critical for your
child to know what to do if he or she encounters a
firearm anywhere, and it is the parents' responsibility
to provide that training.
Talking With Your
Child About Gun Safety
There is no particular
age to talk with your child about gun safety. A good
time to introduce the subject is the first time he or
she shows an interest in firearms, even toy pistols or
rifles. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety
with your child is usually more effective than just
ordering him or her to "Stay out of the gun closet," and
leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a
child's natural curiosity to investigate further.
As with any safety
lesson, explaining the rules and answering a child's
questions help remove the mystery surrounding guns. Any
rules set for your own child should also apply to
friends who visit the home. This will help keep your
child from being pressured into showing a gun to a
Toy Guns vs. Real
It is also advisable,
particularly with very young children, to discuss gun
use on television as opposed to gun use in real life.
Firearms are often handled carelessly in movies and on
TV. Additionally, children see TV and movie characters
shot and "killed" with well-documented frequency. When a
young child sees that same actor appear in another movie
or TV show, confusion between entertainment and real
life may result. It may be a mistake to assume that your
child knows the difference between being "killed" on TV
and in reality.
If your child has toy
guns, you may want to use them to demonstrate safe gun
handling and to explain how they differ from genuine
firearms. Even though an unsupervised child should not
have access to a gun, there should be no chance that he
or she could mistake a real gun for a toy.
What Should You
Teach Your Child About Gun Safety?
If you have decided
that your child is not ready to be trained in a gun's
handling and use, teach him or her to follow the
instructions of NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe®
Program. If you find a gun:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
The initial steps of
"Stop" and "Don't Touch" are the most
important. To counter the natural impulse to touch a
gun, it is imperative that you impress these steps of
the safety message upon your child.
In today's society,
where adult supervision is not always possible, the
direction to "Leave the Area" is also essential.
Under some circumstances, area may be understood to be a
room if your child cannot physically leave the apartment
"Tell an Adult"
emphasizes that children should seek a trustworthy
adult, neighbor, relative or teacher -- if a parent or
guardian is not available.
The NRA's Eddie Eagle
GunSafe Program includes an instructor guide, activity
books, poster, and an animated video to explain its
four-step safety message. For more information about the
www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie or call (800) 231-0752.
Basic Gun Safety
Although the NRA has
complete gun safety rules available for specific types
of firearm use (hunting and competition, for example),
the following three rules are fundamental in any
situation. Whether or not you own a gun, it is important
to know these rules so that you may insist that others
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe
direction. Whether you are shooting or simply
handling a gun, never point it at yourself or
Common sense will tell you which direction is the
safest. Outdoors, it is generally safe to point the
gun toward the ground, or, if you are at a shooting
range, toward the target. Indoors, be mindful of the
fact that a bullet can penetrate ceilings, floors,
walls, windows, and doors.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until
ready to shoot. When holding a gun, rest your
trigger finger outside the trigger guard alongside
the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do
not touch the trigger.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to
use. If you do not know how to check to see if a
gun is unloaded, leave it alone. Carefully secure
it, being certain to point it safely and to keep
your finger off the trigger, and seek competent
Where to Get
The time may come when
you or your family members want to learn how to handle
and shoot a gun safely. In the case of a child, his or
her attitude, learning ability, and physical and
emotional maturity are some of the factors to be weighed
before allowing formal instruction to begin.
When a parent decides a
young person is ready, many training opportunities are
available. For more information on
Programs, call (703) 267-1505.
in the safe handling, use, and storage of firearms is
one of the NRA's most important functions.
Basic Firearm Training Courses, taught by over
54,000 NRA Certified Instructors, are offered in every
state. A program called "FIRST Steps" (Firearm
Instruction, Responsibility, and Safety Training)
provides a three-hour orientation to your specific
firearm. For more information about taking any of these
courses, call (703) 267-1430.
Most states impose some
form of legal duty on adults to take reasonable steps to
deny access by children to dangerous substances or
instruments. It is the individual gun owner's
responsibility to understand and follow all laws
regarding gun purchase, ownership, storage, transport,
etc. Contact your state police and/or local police for
information regarding such laws. If you own a gun and do
not know how to operate it, do not experiment with it.
Point it in a safe direction, keep your finger off the
trigger, and store it securely. Seek competent
assistance and instruction at once. An untrained adult
can be as dangerous as a curious child.
Store guns so that they
are inaccessible to children and other unauthorized
users. Gun shops sell a wide variety of safes, cases,
and other security devices. While specific security
measures may vary, a parent must, in every case, assess
the exposure of the firearm and absolutely ensure that
it is inaccessible to a child.