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Old June 26, 2012, 04:01 PM   #1
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When should children be taught about firearms?

With some of us in our late sixties and early seventies and have lots of grand kids around who are curious about firearms, when is a good time to talk to them about "the birds and the bees" of fireams?
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Old June 26, 2012, 04:06 PM   #2
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As soon as they're old enough to talk to them.
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Old June 26, 2012, 04:06 PM   #3
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There are lessons to be taught from about 3-5 on. I start out with Eddie Eagle at first. Gun safety and familiarization next. Last shooting as soon as I feel like they are ready. Then follow their progression.
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Old June 26, 2012, 04:09 PM   #4
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Well, obviously guns need to be secured so very young children cannot gain access. Then I think once the kids get old enough to potentially defeat you basic security measures it’s a good time to discuss guns. I think people raised to understand and respect firearms will most likely be much safer than those who have limited knowledge.
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Old June 26, 2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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As soon as the kid is old enough to talk, it's time to start talking to them about firearms.

As soon as the kid is old enough to walk, it's time to start teaching them the basic Eddie Eagle safety rules ("If you see a gun, STOP! Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.")

There is no such thing as a child old enough to walk and talk, but too young to defeat "childproof" storage. I say this as a woman who raised five sons (see ).

Get a copy of Massad Ayoob's old but excellent book, Gunproof Your Children and follow the steps in it.

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Old June 26, 2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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My brother and I regularly take both our sons, age 5 to the gun club. Both boys have their own single shot bolt action .22lr rifles.

Its important they understand the dangers, fundimentals, and enjoyment of shooting/hunting. They are highly supervised and given easy challenges.

Its great bonding time too.

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Old June 26, 2012, 07:17 PM   #7
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In my house if theyre old enough to ask, theyre old enough to learn.
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Old June 26, 2012, 07:24 PM   #8
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+1 grinder. I learned to shot first by carrying a red rider next to dad walking ditches for birds around 4? most the time he ended up carrying me. I always knew the dangers and was never allowed to have permission for " hunting" until dad knew I understood the windows are not fair game! at five I started with a 410 bolt savage with a clip that would never feed and had to carry the entire walk and once the dog was on point dad would let me put a shell in and flush the bird. before that he always made me flush it so I understood not to be scared and able to identify roosters. I agree once they can talk its time to discuss. I also never had video games just a red rider and 9 acres we lived on.
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Old June 26, 2012, 07:35 PM   #9
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I was raised.............

At deer camp with a bb gun and a 22. Dad taught me basic safety at about six. When I was 8 I could handle everything we had (quite a few). Shot my first handgun when I was about eleven if I remember correctly.

Funny thing is that dad never had a safe. All ammo was stored in his room and all guns were actually stored in my closet. I was told not to touch them without him and I never did.

In general I was never taught that a gun was scary or something to fear just simply a tool with a purpose. I will do a few things differently for sure with my kids but in the end Dad produced some fine sons with no issues.

Regards, Vermonter
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:18 AM   #10
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I started my twins around 3, and they are now 5. They know Eddie Eagle, know to ask anytime they want to see a gun, and know where to point it when they do get to see it. Both own rifles and a shotgun, and their first handguns are already in the safe (matching Savage 101s). My daughter knows the difference between a clip and a magazine! Both can tie pressure bandages. I caught my boy climbing on top of the refrigerator at 3, so believe me if you think you can get away with hiding guns in high places and be safe you're wrong.

The twins have been tested a few times, either by me intentionally leaving an unloaded gun around, or in a real situation, and they remembered when it counted.

If you've seen the new movie "Brave", the queen keeps yelling at the princess for leaving her weapons on the dinner table. When she said it, both kids leaned over to me and said "see, weapons on the table!"
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:37 AM   #11
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Old June 27, 2012, 06:06 PM   #12
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Be sure not to confuse "teaching" and "talking to/telling" as this article does.
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Old June 27, 2012, 08:17 PM   #13
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I'd say, when they are old enough to know the difference between a toy and a tool, between what is on TV or in a game and reality.

When they are old enough to understand what serious injury and death are. Guns are a little more complicated than teaching them the stove is hot, because they can feel the heat (and the danger), so teaching them about guns needs to come a little after that, but not much.

This, of course, will vary with the child.

Children are not stupid, even when they act that way. They just don't understand the relationship between actions and results yet. A five year old can drive your car, because he has watched you do it. But he doesn't yet understand well enough to do it safely.

I know of a four year old who got in the grandfather's LTD, turned the key to "on" (fortunately not all the way to "start", put the gearshift in drive, and steered the car as it rolled. Luckily, he wasn't able to make his first turn, and the car got stuck in some sand.

I know of another, who, at 5 got a .22 rifle from a closet, got the bolt for the rifle from a dresser drawer, and got the shells from a high shelf, assembled, loaded, and fired a single round into the floor! All because of curiosity. That child was not "gunsafed", but had seen it done, and so could do it.
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Old June 27, 2012, 08:41 PM   #14
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As soon as they're old enough to talk to them
+1, but this does NOT mean having them handling them at this point, but talking about them, starting to make sure they can realize toy versus real, etc. Once old enough, then allowing handling, shooting, etc - for MY kids that meant talking about 4-5 and shooting about 6
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:33 PM   #15
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I ordered "My First Rifle" for my near 6yo daughter. It is a great book, exactly what I wanted.

The story is Jake is given a rifle by Grandpa and then is taught all the safety rules and their importance. Very well done!

Anyway, I have been reading this with her so when I think she is ready to handle a firearm she will know the rules.

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Old June 29, 2012, 06:35 AM   #16
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If you're going to actually introduce them to wielding the weapon, start with long arms. I've noticed even adult beginners have a tendency to have them about all willy nilly. Long arms, not quite as much, and if you are standing close while they are using them you can stay inside the danger zone.
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Old June 29, 2012, 08:16 AM   #17
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My children, ages three and one, have already been taught and understand the difference between their toy guns and Mommy and Daddy's "real guns."
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Old June 29, 2012, 06:47 PM   #18
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Very interesting

Polynikes - I think you touched on Lesson Nº 1 about the "birds and bees" of firearms.

The difference between a toy gun and a real gun is fundamental in firearm safety for the little ones. I suspect most toy guns are given to kids without any thought about firearm saftey resulting in future accidents, not to mention how they are used on the idiot box.
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Old June 30, 2012, 11:20 AM   #19
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Girl was 4 and boy was 5 when they first started shooting BB guns and a year later 22's. No toy cap pistols in the house but squirt guns were allowed, they knew the difference. They learned gun safety the same way and at the same time they learned to put on their seat belts, not blow their nose on their sleeves and tie their own shoes. They don't remember any of the lessons it was just something they grew up with.
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Old June 30, 2012, 12:04 PM   #20
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As soon as my kids were able to chant the Eddie Eagle rules with me ("If you see a gun ... Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!"), I started asking them questions to help them better understand the rules.

"Who's an adult?" (Mommy, Daddy, babysitter, Uncle Scott -- the kids would gleefully list all the adults they knew. I always made sure that they knew our teenage babysitters were "adults" for this purpose.)

"Do you take the gun to the adult?" (NO! Don't touch it! -- the kids always thought that was a funny question, and would bellow out the answer like I was being a silly goose.)

"What if you're not SURE it's a gun? What if you think it MIGHT be a toy?" (This one always, always, always stumped them the first time. The answer is: TREAT it like a gun, even if you're not sure. If you THINK it might be a gun, TREAT it like a gun! I also made a point of showing them my smallest and cutest little polymer guns at this point -- the NAA Minis and the KelTec P32 & P3AT types -- to make the point that some guns look like toys.)

Kathy Jackson
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Old June 30, 2012, 02:58 PM   #21
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When they first show an interest.
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Old June 30, 2012, 03:32 PM   #22
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Never too early to begin the process.

My sons, now 39 & 41, were curious as soon as they saw me get the guns out to go shooting. I began answering their questions at a level they could understand and trying to impart the inherent dangers, also at their level of understanding. By the time they were 7 or 8, they were shooting handguns with very close hands-on supervision with muzzle awareness and finger off the trigger taught repetitively.

Always, guns and ammo were under lock and key separately with keys not kept either accessible or nearby.

I had this great idea at the time that play guns led to unsafe habits, so they were not allowed to have them. They found an old childhood doll of my wife's with bent arms, took the arms off and used them to play guns. So much for that theory. At that time there wasn't the proliferation of lookalike airsoft guns. I think they knew the difference as they always treated the real guns in a safe manner.

By the time they were young teens, I would have trusted them will full access, but the friends they brought home most likely had no training, so the locked up separately rule was always followed.

Both my sons are fathers now, as well as hunters and shooters. Both use combination gun safes and have excellent safety habits. Soon they will be teaching my grandchildren about guns, so the process begins anew.

Now about lookalike airsoft. I am vehemently opposed to holding firearm manufacturers liable for misuse of their products. However, I would fully support holding airsoft manufacturers both civilly and criminally liable for any death or injury where a child pointed one at an armed citizen or police officer in circumstances where the armed person could reasonably perceive a deadly threat. They are principally marketed to younger people, look identical to real guns, and the red tip is easily overlooked in a stressful situation. This is a foreseeable hazard and, although these incidents are rare, the tragedy far outweighs the rationale for making them look and feel real for a game.
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