The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > General Discussion Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 31, 2011, 09:18 PM   #1
Join Date: November 7, 2010
Location: Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 62
Introducing Children to Firearms

So I was having this discussion with some friends who are also parents and we couldn't really come up with anything solid. I have a 15 month old toddler, another on the way, and several guns with the intent of getting more.

So my question is, what is a good way to introduce young children to firearms and firearm safety, and what is a good age to start at?

We currently don't let our little guy play with any toy guns, and today was the first time he got to see my handgun (up close and unloaded), I let him look but not touch and kinda showed him around the gun, obviously he's not quite capable of understanding though.

My girlfriend, while not against guns, and in fact wants to get one and enjoys shooting them, is a bit against him even knowing about guns yet. She's scared to let him near even fake ones, fearing he may find a real one and play with it (which I keep my long guns out of reach, my home handgun locked up, and my carry gun up high and unseen when it's not on me, i'll have to take more precautions when he is older though I know)

So what is everyone's thoughts? Is there an ideal age and method of introducing children to firearms?
WolfMacabre is offline  
Old May 31, 2011, 09:40 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 11, 2010
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 600
I started teaching my sister about guns when she was about 3, she got a pink bb gun for christmas when she was 4 and has been shooting and learning ever since(shes 7 now). Its funny when someone talks about guns when shes around cause most of the time she will correct them when they are wrong about something. Ive been around guns since I could remember, dad would give me my bb gun and give me heck when I did something wrong. I used to play with toy guns but dad taught me the difference between real and fake. As long as your smart about it and teach them right you shouldnt have to worry.(of course there are special cases where you probably shouldnt teach them until thier older)

Thats just what I think though.
nathaniel is offline  
Old May 31, 2011, 10:30 PM   #3
Join Date: May 20, 2011
Location: Somerset, Ky
Posts: 41
This is just my personal take on things. Keep in mind that each child is different and therefore must be handled on a individual basis.

My son is turning seven this week. In the last year I have become interested in handguns. Of course as he saw me being interested he was curious. I did a lot of research on how to handle this. Here is what I did...

The first thing I did was sit him down and explain to him in no uncertain terms that guns, if used inproperly WILL kill people. Then I covered the 4 basic rules of gun safety. After that I showed him how to check and make sure that it wasn't loaded and that we had to do that 3 times before we could look at it. Next we went out and I showed him how it worked, and with this I used targets that were reactive so he could see exactly the power it had. He knows that anytime (within reason) he askes to look at my guns we will get it out and look at it.

My next step was to get him a very cheap and under powered airsoft pistol, so that he could practice all of those rules. And he did break those rules multiple times and each time I corrected him, and at first explained to him why he shouldn't have made that mistake. Eventually the mistake became less and less, and when I did correct him, I would make him tell me why.

Just recently we purchased him a Co2 powered crossman BB pistol. He has become proficent at firing it, and 95% of the times follows the rules. There are still times that he makes mistakes, once again I correct him sternly but nicely.

I purchased a new revolver today and the first thing i did when he got home was show him how it worked, and how to check if it was unloaded. I do this because if he does become curious and somehow gets to the guns, or if he goes to someone elses house who isn't as careful as we are he will know how to check them, and unload them.

With all that being said, I do my part too. They are locked up when not in use.

Hope this helps
teedles915 is offline  
Old May 31, 2011, 10:37 PM   #4
Join Date: May 16, 2000
Location: Washington state
Posts: 7,478

Good questions!

Quick flourish of credentials: my husband and I have five closely-spaced children, all sons. We've owned guns most of their lives, and we were very concerned about their safety when I first got into firearms and began keeping guns in our home. The boys are all into their teenage & young adult years now, with no extra holes in their bodies and with a great deal of intelligent respect for what firearms can do, so I think we did a few things right.

I'm a strong advocate of teaching your child about firearms and firearms safety from the very day they are old enough to begin absorbing the lessons -- and continuing up until they are no longer under your roof & eating your food. It's a series of lessons that needs to be constantly updated and refined as the children grow, to suit their growing abilities and understanding. It also starts very, very simply.

My website,, has a large section titled "Kids and Guns." In it, I explore some of the factors you might want to consider as you think about keeping your child safe.

Start here:

And see how it works in action at

Hope that helps!

Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
pax is offline  
Old May 31, 2011, 11:02 PM   #5
Doc Intrepid
Senior Member
Join Date: May 22, 2009
Location: Washington State
Posts: 888
You also might find it interesting to review the NRA's Eddie Eagle program.

Aimed at young children, it teaches the child to not touch the firearm, leave the area, and tell an adult.

The problem with kids may not be the firearms in your house. It may be firearms in the homes of their friends, that they encounter while visiting.

More information is available at the NRA website on this program, which has been very successful.
Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect....but have a plan to kill them just in case.
Doc Intrepid is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 12:58 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: October 29, 2010
Posts: 316
I think that many accidents involving firearms and kids are the direct result of curiosity and the best way to avoid that is to take the curiosity away.

I still remember being 3 years old, pointing at Dad's gun safe and asking what was in there. Dad stopped everything he was doing and let me see and touch most of the guns in his safe (touching all of them would have taken FAR too long ).

Dad spent 15 minutes and he completely satisfied my curiosity. I didn't have to wonder what was in the safe, and at the time I felt my toys were more interesting so I had no desire to get in the gun safe.

I have a 9 month old daughter, and the first time she asks me about one of my guns I am going to do the same thing Dad did, get rid of the curiosity to keep my little girl safe.

I think teaching your kids about guns is like teaching them about sex. You handle it head on and a little sooner than you probably think you need to.
Falcon642 is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:03 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: March 24, 2011
Posts: 730
We had 5 daughters, we instructed them all in firearm safety as soon as they showed any interest. (each one ended up receiving instruction at a different age) There was one rule that could not be broken. You want to shoot daddy's and mommy's guns, daddy or mommy MUST be with you, other wise no touch. You ask, we will make time for you. (we live in the country where we can shoot on our own land)

While only the oldest (who is now in her 40's) owns her own weapons and still shoots on a regular basis, all the others want grandpa to teach their own children firearms safety even though they do not own any weapons themselves.

This last weekend we had the only one I absolutely refuse to start yet, that is a very "active" 18 month old...was he interested when his big (10 and 12) sisters wanted to shoot this weekend? Oh yes, but I think 18 months is too young, even for an airsoft. BTW: I do not like toy guns. I think they can lead to bad habits unless there is constant supervision.

Depending on the individual child, supervised use of an air soft at 3 or 4 might be ok for the low end of the scale. 8+/- for a .22. depends on the child. Our second daughter was completely responsible for the care and milking of the cow we kept at the home place for our domestic milk at age 8, (her choice) and did so without any error...depends on the child. Our youngest wanted to chop wood at 5 (like her older sisters) but that was too young, she proved it was too young by chopping off the tip of one of her fingers when we had our back turned....depends on the child.
hermannr is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:28 AM   #8
Junior member
Join Date: September 7, 2010
Posts: 1,740
NY city?

Were do you live boy?

Personal interests, or culture should be considered in this conversation.

I like, so I want to push it on my kids, just like Football (Soccer)!

Opps, I didn't read were you live sorry.
8shot357 is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:20 PM   #9
Clifford L. Hughes
Senior Member
Join Date: February 24, 2011
Location: Southern Californis
Posts: 795

At about their sixth birthday, with proper instructions, I let my son and my grandson hold one of my pistols whenever they want to. They would sit on the sofa and watch television holding a pistol. My reasoning is if they can satisfy their curiosty in my presence, they won't have a desire to play with a gun when I'm not there. It worked.

semper Fi.

Gunnery sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired
Clifford L. Hughes is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:33 PM   #10
Spats McGee
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 6,905
My daughter will be 8 soon. We've been teaching the 4 rules for a while, but I'm reluctant to say "taught," because I'm not done teaching. It's critical that a child understand that breaking the 4 rules can end someone's life.

Whenever I have a gun out, she wants to look. I make sure it's cleared, then hand it over. Then she has to make sure it's been cleared. I took her out to my parents' house in the country last year (or was it year before?) and let her shoot a BB gun. She couldn't quite follow the rules, because she just got too excited. So we put it away. Now, I think she's ready. There's nowhere near me that we could shoot a BB gun anyway, so I might as well take her to the range and start her with a single-shot .22.

Someone on this board made a comment that I'm going to shamelessly rip off. It was not my comment originally, but it's very good advice. Teaching your kids about guns is like teaching them to swim. Deep water will still be out there in the world, and will still be dangerous, even if you don't teach them to swim.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
Spats McGee is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:44 PM   #11
Join Date: November 7, 2010
Location: Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 62
Great thoughts and suggestions, I guess I'll have to see how he is developing and go with it. 8shot, I'm not really following your post. I'm not trying to force anything on my children (i'm actually opposed to it, it's their life and they are free to make their own choices), however I do want them to be safe around potentially dangerous weapons, and to know what is and isn't acceptable.
WolfMacabre is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 01:55 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: May 3, 2011
Posts: 145
My wife and I have one son, age 11 (tomorrow). Both my wife and I grew up with guns in the house, unsecured - meaning they were on a gun rack in the back hall and accessible to anyone who could reach the gun rack. Ammunition was stored separately in both of our homes. I grew up with guns and wanted the same for my son. Here is what we did:

First, we wanted our son to understand the difference between toys and guns so we introduced him to toy guns when he was about three or four. He's a pretty bright kid so I walked him through the four basic rules and asked him to practice them with his toy guns, including Nerf guns (more on Nerf guns later).

Next, we bought him an Airsoft pistol when he was about six. I explained to him that, unlike the toy guns, the Airsoft pistol had the capability to injure someone - especially if the BB hit them in the eye. We insisted that he always follow the four basic rules of gun safety when handling the Airsoft pistol. In that respect, the Airsoft pistol was a great teaching tool. It allowed him to learn about aiming and shooting without putting anyone at any great risk. It also allowed him to demonstrate that he understood and could follow the four basic rules at all times. Once we were confident in his ability to follow the four rules, we went back to the Nerf guns.

We discussed the difference between Nerf guns and Airsoft and the reduced potential for injury with the Nerf guns. That allowed us to introduce Nerf guns as a toy gun that fired a projectile but could be pointed and fired at another person without any real risk of injury. Nerf gun wars were then introduced to our household.

At about age eight, our son began shooting my BB and pellet guns. He became quite proficient and demonstrated that he would always follow the four rules.

For his tenth birthday, we bought him a .22 rifle. The little bugger can outshoot me from time-to-time. This past Christmas we got him a .410 shotgun. He also has a compound bow. He's been turkey hunting with both the bow and the shotgun.

This summer our son will participate in Nebraska's hunter safety course.

While every child is different, I think this approach allows children to "graduate" to higher levels of responsibility once they have demonstrated that they are ready. It also sates the curiousity than can tempt children to play with guns without understanding the safety requirements and potential consequences.

FWIW, all of our guns are locked up in safes. We do not have an open gun rack in the back hall. I'm a stickler for safety and don't want any of my son's friends to run across unsecured weapons without adequate training.
Mudinyeri is offline  
Old June 1, 2011, 02:07 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 8,205
Hello falcon642,,,

I think that many accidents involving firearms and kids are the direct result of curiosity and the best way to avoid that is to take the curiosity away.
Very good statement there.

I always remember that the only things I was sneaky about when I was a kid,,,
Were the things that Mom and Dad decided I didn't need to know about.

I was present when an NRA instructor taught an Eddie Eagle class to some 5-8 year olds,,,
It was a very well thought out curriculum on what to do if they found (encountered) a gun.

Two weeks later my friend "tested" the program by leaving a pistol unattended in the kitchen,,,
We were both very gratified when his 7 year old daughter came home,,,
Saw the handgun sitting on the kitchen table,,,
Recited the 3 rules to herself,,,
And left to find Mom.

The funny part was watching him sit down and be lectured by his daughter,,,
On how he should not leave his handgun laying around,,,
I almost died I was laughing so hard.

Here is a link to the Eddie Eagle materials order page.

Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  

children , introduction , kids , safety

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:07 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08228 seconds with 7 queries