Kids, Christmas, and Gun Safety – Make it a Priority
Terry Nelson 12.25.20
Christmas is here and most likely there will be a new firearm under the tree for some if they are lucky, and no doubt a few of these new gun recipients will be our kids. With that thought, it is a good time to give serious thought to a review of gun safety and have that discussion with your kids. They need to understand what to do if they find a gun when not in your presence. Whether it be at home, a friend’s house or elsewhere.
Every year there are instances of children accidently shooting themselves or another person with a gun who should have never had access to it without supervision. These tragic stories are repeated too often; one time is too many. Even though most of you reading this have a good understanding of gun safety and responsibility, the topic can never be overemphasized. When I provide firearms training, no matter the audience or experience level, one of the first things covered are the rules of firearm safety. I expect them to be adhered to. Both on and off the range! When it comes to the safety of children, there can be no exceptions. Every trip to the gun range or the hunting field includes a reminder of the four cardinal gun safety rules:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Don’t let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’re ready to shoot.
- Be aware of your target and what’s around it.
Many firearm accidents occur in the home where gun storage has not been taken seriously and children can get access to a gun that they should not have. As responsible parents and gun owners we must make sure kids get the right message when it comes to guns and safety. Are you not sure how to talk to kids about firearms, or what educational programs are available? Let’s take a look at a few of these options.
Hunter Education Programs
These state-run programs are one of my top picks for learning safe gun handling and an excellent way to get the gun safety message across to kids. Even better, most allow for parents or guardians to take the course along with the child. Even if you and the kids are not hunters, the overlying theme of these programs is firearms safety. Check with your local state Game & Fish agencies or the County Extension Office.
National Shooting Sports Foundation
The NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) is dedicated to “working day in and day out to promote, protect and preserve our industry and our sports.” They have excellent gun safety programs including “Project Child Safe” that is dedicated to children and firearms safety. You can find more information on the NSSF and gun safety at Project Child Safe.
National Rifle Association
The NRA (National Rifle Association) has been around for well over 100 years and is committed to the preservation of gun rights and firearms safety. The resources and materials available to the public for gun safety programs are too many to list here, but when it comes to kids and gun safety you may want to check out the NRA “Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program.”
Another great shooting and educational organization that is very family-oriented is Project Appleseed. They offer lots of opportunities when it comes to gun safety, and shooting programs. Project Appleseed is also unique because they tie in American Heritage programs with their gun safety and education curriculum as well. More information about all of their programs can be found at the Project Appleseed website.
Civilian Marksmanship Program
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a national organization and was created in 1903. It is dedicated to training and educating U.S. citizens in responsible uses of firearms and airguns through gun safety training, marksmanship training, and competitions. The CMP organization places a high priority on youth programs as well as those for adults.
These are just a few of many programs available to you and your family. I mention these only because I have had hands on experience with them throughout my career. There are no doubt others in your local area such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, and local sportsmen clubs who also have gun safety training. In sum, always take gun safety seriously for the sake of those for whom you are responsible for and care about. Safe gun handling, storage, and education are responsibilities that we must never take for granted and should be passing along to our children and grandchildren. Christmas is a wonderful time to do just that!