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Old July 1, 2010, 11:19 PM   #1
artemka
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Toddler Gun Safety vs. Firearm Accessibility

I did an extensive search across this site using as many search keywords as I could find, and the most recent posts I came up with on this topic were dated 2005. As such, I'd love to open the discussion again.

Many of the posts I read on this forum go something like this: "Sure, I have guns in every room of my house, two under my pillow, and a spare in the crapper. This is not a problem as there are no kids to worry about."

Here's my problem: I do have kids to worry about. For all the talk about teaching kids firearm safety, the simple truth is that kids have very little sense until they're at least ten (and things can get better or worse from there). My kids are 3 and zero. The three-year-old has just enough strength, dexterity, and tenacity to get into trouble, and yet not enough good sense to keep away from a loaded gun if she ever comes across it. By the time she's old enough to treat firearms with respect, two things will happen: she will start having guests over (sleepovers, study groups, etc.) and our youngest will then herself be mobile and just as active.

I do not believe that a responsible adult should leave firearms ANYWHERE that's accessible to kids. At the same time, the necessity of having one or more loaded guns available at a moment's notice seems to be general consensus as well.

My current setup, which is far from ideal, is this:
1. keep a Glock with the slide pulled back and a magazine next to it in a GunVault in the bedroom closet on the second floor
2. keep my small CCW (Walther PPS, loaded, de-cocked, round in the chamber) on a magnet screwed into the back wall of a small closet by our front door (there are no shelves there, so no way for even a determined toddler to climb to where the gun is)
3. keep a rifle and shotgun in the large safe in the basement

In general, I can reach the gun on the same floor of the house in about 15 seconds. My daughter can't get into the safes, and (for now) cant jump the seven feet that separate her from the Walther hanging in the closet. For now, this approach seems to strike a nice balance between accessibility, security, and unobtrusiveness.

What are your thoughts? Aside from carrying concealed on my person the whole time, or having a dozen safes all over the house, how would you achieve the balance between safety and accessibility?

As a related question, how early is too early to start teaching kids about firearm safety? And how would you go about it?
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:25 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I carry a Glock 33 and store it in a GunVault. I don't see why the gun in the GunVault is left unloaded. There's no way a three year old is getting in there unless your code is something really short, like 1, 2.

If you are worried about needing a gun then carry a gun on you when you're awake. It's really not a big deal. I do it every day. I carry my Glock in a Crossbreed Supertuck. You won't even know it's there after a couple of weeks.

You're right about leaving guns where kids can get them, that's an absolute no.
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:44 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. What do you do with the G33 at night? Bedside safe?

While I'm supportive of the constant carry idea, it would be a non-starter for me. First, my wife is very nervous around guns. Second (and sorry about too much detail), as I sit by a computer at 1am wearing nothing but my drawers, I honestly can't imagine where I could conceal a holster just now.

To be clear, I honestly don't worry about needing the gun at a moment's notice. Living in a safe, densely populated area, I think the chances of a home break-in, with the bad guys going straight for my bedroom are very low. Still, the paranoia of a gun owner is that you'll likely need it right when you don't have it, so I'm trying to weigh my options. Having an unloaded G17 with a magazine next to it seems a tad safer, and smacking the mag into the gun automatically chambers the round, so we're talking about a 1-second operation here. Again, seems like a nice enough balance for me...
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:56 PM   #4
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faced with same issue.

What are your thoughts? Aside from carrying concealed on my person the whole time, or having a dozen safes all over the house, how would you achieve the balance between safety and accessibility?
------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have 2 guns.. pt140 carry and walther p22.. I have a close setup like you have... It has worked fine.. i have 3 kids..
9, 7, and 4..





As a related question, how early is too early to start teaching kids about firearm safety? And how would you go about it?
----------------------------------------------------------------------
This is exactly what i have done.. appears to have worked very well..
my first son saw the gun at 7 or 8 and showed some interest..
What is that.. how does it work.. type stuff... I went over his questions… When he asked if he could shoot, I told him he had to show he was responsible, and mature enough to handle the weapon. I put the gun away, and said.. Anytime you want to see it let me know.. and Every time he wanted to see it.. within reason(no friends around and time allowed) I took it down.. let him see me handle it.. check to see if it was loaded things like that.. and we made that into rules.. so he would have to tell me what to do. If he got the order of rules wrong, I put it up. over time.. he learned to treat all guns as they were loaded things like that.. once he was able to clean and handle the gun SAFELY I took him to shoot. And we then went over range rules… in our building of rules I had him read NRA site(as best as he could) and things like that to build his own list of 10 rules… as a right of passage to shoot.. That worked very well.. and is working today.. I have handled each child the same way.. waiting for the 4 year old to start asking questions..
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Old July 1, 2010, 11:59 PM   #5
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forgot to add

at night i have the gun in my room in the top drawer.. mag in.. not chambered.. my neighborhood is safe.. so i don't worry TOOOO much about not being able to get my gun that second... I have doors locked stuff like that .. so anyone who enters the home that should not.. is going to make noise... that gives me time to access my firearm quickly..

if you have a home alarm.. turn on the beeper so it goes off everytime the window or door are open.. that is what i would/am doing if i were you..
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Old July 2, 2010, 01:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
I do not believe that a responsible adult should leave firearms ANYWHERE that's accessible to kids. At the same time, the necessity of having one or more loaded guns available at a moment's notice seems to be general consensus as well.
Most folks don't realize that everywhere in your house is accessible to even a child. I remember when I was still eating in a booster seat I could easily monkey my way up onto the refrigerator, into the cabinets, and crawl around and play on the top shelves in the closet. The really bad part of it is I have a boy on the way I guess I have all that to look forward to.
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Old July 2, 2010, 08:54 AM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Thanks for the reply. What do you do with the G33 at night? Bedside safe?

While I'm supportive of the constant carry idea, it would be a non-starter for me. First, my wife is very nervous around guns. Second (and sorry about too much detail), as I sit by a computer at 1am wearing nothing but my drawers, I honestly can't imagine where I could conceal a holster just now.

My G33 is in the GunVault next to my bed at night.

Your wife won't even know the thing is around. She can't see it, it'll be just as concealed as if you were in public. I'm not saying that you deceive her, just tell her that you're going to try it and then don't mention it again. She'll forget all about it.

I'm not saying that I always carry at home. I don't, but I also don't come home and put the gun away. If I'm in the appropriate attire then I'm carrying. In my case, that pretty much means that I'm dressed because when I decide to carry, that choice dictated some different clothing which don't fit without the holster.

Forced preparation, sort of. Wear the the gun or your pants fall down!
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:33 AM   #8
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The unloaded gun in a vault makes no sense. It's in a vault! Parental supervision is the often forgotten but upmost key to child safety. A kid shouldn't be able to drag a chair and climb to the top of the closet in your bedroom or front coat closet. The top of the fridge is like the summit of Everest to a kid. It must be reached and countertops and shelves make for easy climbing. So not there! GunVaults around the house are probably the way to go. Also, if it suites the decor of your home (it wouldn't in mine) a gun over a fireplace is an old school way of keeping a gun ready for action by adult but safely away from kids.
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Old July 2, 2010, 09:40 AM   #9
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Yep thats true EdInk they shouldn't but they sometimes do. Single mom just out of a divorce working graveyard shifts. So guess what? The kids are gonna move chairs and get into the top of closets. Thankfuly nowadays there are great products like Gunvaults for those pesky monkey kids.
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Old July 2, 2010, 11:17 AM   #10
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I'm all for safety with kids and guns but what happened? I grew up in a house full of guns and 4 of us kids and no one ever got shot. There was loaded guns all over the house and the rule was keep your hands off my 45 (dad).

I had loaded guns all over my house when I was raising my two boys and no safes or gunvaults. No tradjedy's occured.

While locking the guns up in safes and gunvaults seems like a no brainer good idea it does not effectively address the issue of gun safety with the kids, it merely babysits your gun while you do other things. It's a feel good measure.

Most kids are real bright and could probably open the gunvault over time. Then at the critical moment when the kid pops it open one day...the reality surfaces...the kid is clueless about guns and safety because dad put his faith in a mechanical device rather than teach the children to be competant and safe, so then you have the recipe for a tragedy. After the tradgedy the parent(s) will ask themselves...what could I have done differently to avert this tragedy? How about teaching your kids?

I sincerely believe that Massad Ayoob does not talk gun safety and kids anymore because of a politaical correctness directive linked to his livelyhood so that is understandable...but he wrote a book called Gunproof your children and maybe you can find a used copy somewhere. Page after page of some serious common sense...
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Old July 2, 2010, 01:20 PM   #11
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I don't have kids, so the way I do things around my house doesn't apply to you.

I only want to comment on one thing.

You said your older kid is a girl. That being the case:

When I was a very young boy I was a little monkey. I could shimmy up onto and hang from just about anything. One of my favorite things was to shimmy up a door frame and just cling there at the top. This was even easier if the walls and door frame were painted- if you weigh very little and with moist feet, it's almost like being spiderman.

Don't assume that your daughter will not figure out how to do something similar which will allow her to reach that magnet.

There are probably also numerous things which she could lay her hands on to knock the gun down.

Consider some other options for a gun on that level of the house.
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Old July 2, 2010, 02:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Edward429451 I'm all for safety with kids and guns but what happened? I grew up in a house full of guns and 4 of us kids and no one ever got shot. There was loaded guns all over the house and the rule was keep your hands off my 45 (dad).

I had loaded guns all over my house when I was raising my two boys and no safes or gunvaults. No tradjedy's occured.

While locking the guns up in safes and gunvaults seems like a no brainer good idea it does not effectively address the issue of gun safety with the kids, it merely babysits your gun while you do other things. It's a feel good measure.

Most kids are real bright and could probably open the gunvault over time. Then at the critical moment when the kid pops it open one day...the reality surfaces...the kid is clueless about guns and safety because dad put his faith in a mechanical device rather than teach the children to be competant and safe, so then you have the recipe for a tragedy. After the tradgedy the parent(s) will ask themselves...what could I have done differently to avert this tragedy? How about teaching your kids?

I sincerely believe that Massad Ayoob does not talk gun safety and kids anymore because of a politaical correctness directive linked to his livelyhood so that is understandable...but he wrote a book called Gunproof your children and maybe you can find a used copy somewhere. Page after page of some serious common sense...
I see where you're coming from on this. When I was young my dad taught me about guns and gun safety at a young age. Most of the guns were not under lock and key, they were usually stored in the closet or a dresser drawer. I never had the urge to go get them and play with them or anything because I knew that if I wanted to shoot, all I had to do was ask.

With that said, it do think safes/vaults are a good idea. And not just for your kids, it might stop some other kid that is over visiting from getting their hands on it.

I don't have kids yet, so I keep my carry gun either on me or in the drawer next to my bed when I'm home. When I'm not home, it goes into a small in-wall safe in the closet with my other "valuable" pistols. I have other guns stored in the house but they are not under lock&key (or combo).

As I get closer to having kids one day I am starting to think more about this topic. For me, I think it will be a combination of physical safety such as a safe/vault and teaching my kids gun safety at a young age (what that age will be I'm not sure yet) and taking them shooting so they understand.
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Old July 2, 2010, 02:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
2. keep my small CCW (Walther PPS, loaded, de-cocked, round in the chamber) on a magnet screwed into the back wall of a small closet by our front door (there are no shelves there, so no way for even a determined toddler to climb to where the gun is)
Although unlikely, a toddler could move a chair, box or similar item into position to climb up and reach it. My 2 year old learned that trick months ago to grab stuff off the counters.

I agree with folks here, if its in the safe, leave it loaded.
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Old July 2, 2010, 02:54 PM   #14
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When I had young kids at home, I still kept a 357 in the nightstand. They knew about it, knew not to touch it, and never did - nor did they tell friends about it or the 12 gauge in the closet.

Quote:
As a related question, how early is too early to start teaching kids about firearm safety? And how would you go about it?
I started each of mine at 6, using a Marlin 15yn (Lil Buckaroo), a single shot young kid's .22. After going over safety incessantly, I handed them one round at a time watching everything until I felt comfortable they were mature enough to be trusted to shoot without me standing over their shoulder (but at the next bench)
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Old July 2, 2010, 03:13 PM   #15
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I have 2 young kids.

Loaded weapons are kept in the gun vault next to the bed.
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Old July 3, 2010, 07:31 PM   #16
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Again, thanks for the responses, everyone. Based on some excellent feedback provided, here are my immediate steps, if anyone's interested.

1. Order Ayoob's book on gunproofing the kids. Just ordered it on amazon - the title and cover alone are worth the $10 plus shipping, and his writing is generally very enjoyable
2. keep the Glock in the gunvault loaded and with a round in the chamber
3. consider moving the gunvault closer to the bed (or get a similar but smaller one to store under the bed)
4. start a gun safety regimen with my three-year-old. she already knows that guns go bang, and she doesn't like loud noises, so the groundwork is already done
5. reconsider the ccw in the closet. i'm not terribly worried for now - there are no shelves that would allow a kid to climb all the way up, a chair won't allow her to reach it either - but i'll keep looking for an option that gives me more comfort.

An ideal alternative to my magnet solution would be a holster that makes it impossible to physically remove the handgun from it. I could then permanently attach such a holster to the wall - probably the same location, which is concealed yet accessible.

I did a quick search for biometric holsters, and looks like there are some companies working on something along those lines. Not a fan of putting safety into a complex electronic device, but then again, we do it every day with our cars, elevators, flight control computers, traffic lights, etc. If such a product ever gets to market, I'd strongly consider it...
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Old July 3, 2010, 08:00 PM   #17
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First start trianing for safety. Get a watermelon then shoot it and tell the 3 year old to put it back together. They learn that when a gun goes bang they can't change what happens. simple safety lessons to start with but does need repeating at least twice a year. as they get bigger more details. I have raised 4 that had a small army of friends no one ever hurt by a firearm.
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Old July 3, 2010, 08:08 PM   #18
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Someone stated it earlier in this thread: young children lack the capacity to make rationale decisions regardless of training. Have you ever seen the video about "trained children" who were supposedly aware enough to not go off with strangers, who then walk away with the adult who cliams he is looking for his lost puppy? Young kids do not understand the finality of shooting/killing something, regardless of how many watermelons you bust up with a 357mag round. I have used a GunVault for many years, inside my dresser. The gun is loaded and cocked (a DA semiauto). It takes me a few seconds to get to the GunVault and get the gun out, but that is the price I am willing to pay to ensure that my young grandchildren never get their hands on my loaded weapon.
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Old July 3, 2010, 08:53 PM   #19
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G'day. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned http://www.corneredcat.com/ This has some very good information that is being discussed and it is from one of the administrators here.
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Old July 5, 2010, 01:28 PM   #20
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Grew up in a house with guns, and not all locked in a safe or closet. So did my parents, and their parents, and probably so on back to flintlocks. My kids grew up in a house with guns, as well.

My children also had the benefit of seeing and knowing what guns do when fired. Including killing animals. Train your kids the right way, and you won't have problems.

Unfortunately, few people these days do, or even can. There aren't even as many adults who know (and do) whats right as there used to be.

For many years, while the kids were toddlers, I kept a .45, mag loaded chamber empty as my go to gun. And I would test the kids to see if they could load it. By the time they were big enough to pull back the slide, they were big enough to know and understand why not to.

Even the dumbest acting kid is not stupid. They just need to be taught in a way they can understand. Yes, they are curious little house apes, but once they know and understand something, the curiosity goes away, and so does the interest.

For goodness sake, get that gun off the magnet in your closet, unless the closet door locks and you have the key on you! Leave a kid curious and unsupervised and they will find a way to get to it. Count on it!

Sad thing, most parents today can't/won't take the time (and effort) needed to train children properly. Too busy making a living or doing something else to bother with it, I guess. If your TV is your babysitter (or an ignorant teenager) best have things locked up.
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Old July 5, 2010, 01:47 PM   #21
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You don't have to carry concealed in your own home or on your own property. If your wife and children see a properly holstered firearm (trigger covered and thumb break in place) on your body at all times, they will adjust to that fact and it will become a non-issue.

When you kid tries to get to the gun (and they almost certainly will), he or she will be directly in your presence, and you can then begin the gun safety instruction. Each time the kid tries to access the gun, you can reinforce the safety lessons until that also becomes a non-issue. As your children grow, they will become comfortable around guns but will have a deep respect for them and understand gun safety rules completely.

If, God forbid, you should ever have to use your gun in your home to defend your family, your children will then instantly connect your routine carrying to the reason that you did so, and the lesson will be imprinted for a lifetime.
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Old July 5, 2010, 01:50 PM   #22
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One thing to be careful about it that many parents don't know what pressures the child is under (despite you saying that they can tell you everything). Many parents miss drug usage, sexual problems, depression, etc.

Also, pressure can come on very rapidly. Peer pressure can lead to risky behavior as can dating scenarios.

Psych side of my life makes me cautious to claims that because one educated your kid about guns, they won't go for them in times of stress.

Very sad.
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Old July 5, 2010, 06:12 PM   #23
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You might want to consider a gun with one of those much-reviled internal locks. I don't have kids, but my Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro has a lock on the side of the slide. If I had kids and didn't want to carry it on my person, I could leave it completely loaded but safe, with the key in my pocket.
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Old July 5, 2010, 09:47 PM   #24
artemka
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The last post by Gary left me speechless with one of those DUH moments. My CCW weapon is a Walther PPS, which already comes with a mechanical safety device! Specifically, the removable backstrap permanently de-cocks the firearm. I have not had much good experience with "lockable" guns (my Ruger Mark III comes with a key that needs to be turned a dozen times to "screw" the gun into safe/operable modes), but I can tell you that snapping that backstrap on the Walther takes all of 2 seconds.

With that in mind, effective immediately I'm keeping my safety protocol for the Walther as follows:

1. keep it holstered on the magnet at the top back wall of my entryway closet
2. de-cocked, no round in the chamber, magazine in
3. removable backstrap on my person, or in one of the internal coat pockets in the same closet

I feel that this setup provides enough safety for my now three-year-old, as she a. doesn't know the gun is there, b. can't see it, c. can't reach it without a tremendous amount of athleticism and ingenuity (if she knew it was there and actually wanted to try), d. is rarely unsupervisied, and e. can't make it operable by assembling it and chambering the round.

At the same time, I myself can access the gun easily and can make it operable in about five seconds. This is short enough a time frame for the two cases when I would likely want to access it: to answer an unexpected late-night door knock, or to make the gun ready to be carried on my person when leaving the house.

This, in addition to the firearm safety education as discussed on the 'corneredcat' website (thanks skullandbones) and in this forum, and keeping the rest of the firearms int the house under lock and key should in my view be sufficient to address my concerns about safety at this stage of my life.

Later on, as the kids get older and circumstances change, adjustments will need to be made. Glenn - thank you very much for your insightful comment on child psychology and the risks associated with it. Yes, we all like to think that we can bring up balanced, well-adjusted kids, but truth of the matter is that we live in stressful times, and stress enters our kids lives way too early for my taste. Trouble at school and trouble at home are only two of the possible sources of anxiety, and while there are many ways to get in trouble for a child, having ready access to guns can exacerbate things very fast. Bringing up kids in this environment seems to require an uncanny balance between constant vigilance and smothering your kids in unwanted attention. Nobody said parenting was easy...

Thanks again for your comments, everyone.
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Old July 6, 2010, 02:00 PM   #25
peejman
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I have a 2 yr old with another cooking.

I have Ayoob's "Gunproof your Kids" book. If it's not too late, save your money and read this instead.... http://www.corneredcat.com/toc.aspx#Kids

I have a rifle safe with a key lock. All the rifles in the safe have trigger locks. I have a handgun safe with an electronic lock. Two of the pistols are loaded. One of those moves to the bedside table when I go to bed and goes back to the safe when I get up. If I intend to carry, it's either in the holster on my belt, or in the safe.

With little kids, I think it's about disarming their curiosity. If they're "well adjusted" when they get a little older, they should be fine around guns. If they have problems (attitude, emotional, disciplinary, etc.), then all bets are off.

I'm also one of those kids who was raised in a house with unsecured loaded guns. I handled them far more often that my Dad knew about, but I did know how to handle them and never had any motivation to do anything stupid with them.
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