28 Aug The Right Age to Teach Kids About Guns
How old is “old enough” to start learning about guns and firearm safety? When is your child the right age to teach them the basics, but they aren’t allowed at the shooting range? These are common questions for gun owners with kids, and the answers will vary depending on the circumstances. We’re going to be taking a look at the various factors that will likely influence your decisions on this crucial topic, along with some advice on teaching the rudiments of gun safety and instilling an appropriate respect for firearms in your child.
What Age Is the Correct Age?
Children can vary wildly in their temperaments and levels of maturity. Even within themselves, children can show different degrees of maturity in different areas of development, according to The Center for Parenting Education. Why would that matter, you might wonder? Because maturity is one of the main factors you’ll need to gauge to determine if it’s time to start teaching your child about firearms and firearms safety.
Rather than setting an arbitrary age for when it’s appropriate to start introducing gun topics to a kid, a better approach is to assess your child’s level of emotional and intellectual development, determine if they are capable of and use that as a measure of whether or not the time is right to start familiarizing them with various gun-related topics.
You’ll also want to note that just because your child is mature enough to start talking about guns, it might not mean that they’re mature enough to start learning how to shoot them. Use your judgement, and don’t feel that you have to show them everything there is to know at once. As your child grows and becomes more mature, there will be plenty of time to slowly introduce them to new gun topics (and perhaps even shooting) once you feel that they’re ready to handle it.
Know that maturity isn’t the only variable to consider, though. You’ll also have to take your child’s level of interest into account when making the decision to teach them about guns. Generally speaking, the more interest they show, the more in-depth you can get with what you teach them, and if they show little to no interest at all, it may be prudent to hold off on some things until they do.
Finishing up here, regardless of what age you determine is most appropriate for your child to start learning more about guns, what’s clear is that the first item of discussion should be safety. This is paramount if you have guns in the home, as firearms safety (coupled with a hearty respect for the potential dangers firearms can present) is key in avoiding gun-related accidents around the home. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can best approach the topic of gun safety and other firearms essentials when talking with your child.
Where to Begin?
As we mentioned above, safety is of the utmost importance. If you own guns, the reasoning here is obvious — you want your child to understand that guns can cause serious injury when used improperly and impress upon them why they aren’t to be treated as playthings.
Even if you don’t have guns in the home, though, safety is still a topic worth covering. There’s always a chance they could wind up in a scenario where they stumble across an unsecured firearm (at a friend’s home, for instance), and knowing the safety rules and proper course of action when posed with such a situation might save their life.
It’ll take more than a simple “don’t touch guns without supervision” warning to get the point across, however. Think about the nature of kids, and how you were when you were a child. Saying “don’t do it” is very nearly an invitation to the opposite, so a more effective strategy when trying to convey the importance of gun safety is to expand upon the reasons that firearms aren’t to be toyed with.
You can explain the consequences that come from firing a gun at someone (serious injury/death) if your child is developed enough to understand these concepts, and how you choose to approach explaining this will depend upon your personal preferences.
You’ll also want to explain to your child what they should do if they find a firearm (which is to avoid touching it and alerting an adult). Overall, though, the point with teaching your child about gun safety shouldn’t be to make your child feel unnecessarily nervous around them. Instead, your aim should be to educate them on why it’s important to recognize firearms as a tool that should be respected and treated with caution.
And what if they’re ready to start learning about how to handle firearms themselves? While you might not be able to take them to the shooting range, if you access to a large enough property, you might be able to show them a few basics with something small (such as a BB gun).
Here, you can start reinforcing proper gun safety, teaching them the Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety, and underscoring that they should treat every gun as if it were loaded, keep their fingers off the trigger until they’ve got their sights on their target, know for sure what their target is (and what lies beyond), and never point that muzzle at anything they aren’t supposed to be aiming at.
Hopefully those tips gave you a good idea about when you should start bringing up the topic of guns with your children, and a few things you should consider covering off the bat. There are, of course, plenty more lessons to impart upon your kids, so be sure to check out the 10 Most Important Things to Teach Your Kids About guns to learn about what other important bits of firearms knowledge you should be sharing with the young ones. As always, we’re here to help, so if you have any questions on gun safety or firearms in general, feel free to drop us a line!