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Gun safety, young children and guns.

Updated on October 3, 2013

When the kids were small, I didn't allow loaded pistols.

Grew the family in southern California, in the 70's and 80's. We had a pistol that remained unloaded, with no ammo in the apartment. We were in a very high crime area, living in Long Beach, and San Pedro at different times. We knew we had to have a way of deterring possible break ins, and to protect the family. The pistol I had, as I found out later was poorly made, the barrel shifted in the frame. This gun was virtually useless, unknown to me at the time. Before I took the ammo out of the apartment, a family member fired the gun in a closet, thankfully no injuries occurred. Another time I had a report that a child brandished the unloaded family gun to other children as they were playing. No one, thankfully was injured.

We kept the the gun unloaded, due to how young our three kids were.

We began a rule that no toy guns were allowed, even pointing a finger at someone directly was forbidden. We had read how children were injured and had died when toy guns were mistaken for firearms. So gun safety began with toys. Shooting toys could not resemble actual guns in general size and shape. Super obvious toys that resembled ray guns or non gun shapes were allowed. We are in the middle of a time when children are dying because of toy guns mistaken for weapons and guns falling into the hands of children.

We moved to Tennessee, we see guns as tools and practical.

Hunting, sharpshooting, home protection, protecting livestock, and a reminder to all that we need to practice good manners. All of these things were made possible by firearms. With destructive dogs around, and meth labs in the county, you need to have a gun around. Power can go out for days at a time, along with local police coverage as the higher priority needs are met first. There are more firearms than people in my county, I understand why, just a lot of guns.

Awash in guns, and surrounded by gun owners, means we have to manage the resource.

Crime is low, gun accidents are low, and people feel safer in my county, than in urban areas.. Rule # 1; All guns are loaded. Rule number # 2; All guns are loaded. Rule # 3; All guns are loaded. This is the mantra of the rural firearm owner. Any alcohol or drugs around firearms is simply not allowed, by responsible gun owners. Children are taught gun safety from infancy. Each gun owner freely instructs every other person about safe gun use. Our only hope, with so many guns around is to teach and model proper attitudes towards guns, and to train each person who handles one.


Most households have guns in my county.

When we approach a home, law enforcement included, we assume that there is a gun in the home. We call first, we announce ourselves by knocking or calling out. We make sure they know we are on the property. Also we are respectful of others, and we assume non aggressive speech and demeanor.

We are rural, a long way from help.

10 minutes to town, and we can't get help quickly. We do know our neighbors, and enjoy having them as acquaintances. We notice extra traffic and who drives what vehicle. When a strange car shows up, especially on some neighbors lot, we call and see if everything is OK. We keep our cell phones on us and we call trouble in early. If hunters or others are seen wandering the area, someone gets a call. We watch out for each other.

Gun crime is low, in my county.

We do have shootings, family fights, usually. We do have convenience store robberies, not very often and we do have the occasional burglary. These crimes occur much less per capita than in urban areas. The chance of running into a firearm wielded by a citizen is much higher in a rural area. We also feel a kinship with our neighbors, and our community, more so than urban areas.

Guns are woven into the fabric of our culture.

Useful, and practical, in our situation. Firearms are part of how we approach life. Our independence and sense of self determination can be attributed , at least partly, to the ability to defend ourselves. We sell them, use them in recreation, we buy them, we understand how they work and we know how dangerous they can be.

Decide what risk you want children exposed to.

If you have very young children, think about not owning a gun at all, or the least dangerous alternative. Many will use a rifle for home protection that is out of reach of children. The rifle is much more difficult to fire than a pistol. Think about bad tempers, and those who can't make good decisions due to mental issues, or medication use. Think about short term depression or suicide prone groups. People are dying from guns, accidental deaths, the very young and those with little knowledge of how guns work. The guns are not going away, injuries and deaths occur daily from accidents with guns.

Unfortunately there are people who want to harm you and your family.

If someone intends harm, they may use a gun to hurt someone. I am unwilling to do nothing and accept fate, and hope for the best. Many refuse to own guns, and feel their position is justified in being unarmed. If a person chooses to be unarmed, I feel that it is their choice, and I respect that choice. I am unwilling to be unarmed, and I feel my position should be respected, as well. I understand the HUGE responsibility of owning a gun, and the HUGE possible consequences of not owning one.

There are less lethal alternatives.

Each action has a consequence, if you do something, if you don't respond, consequences. Pepper spray, zappers, martial arts, submitting to an attack, all these have pros and cons. Each person must decide how to respond to emergency situations. In most lives the threat to body and property is rare. For those who live daily with a high chance of violence happening to them, a decision must be made. Sometimes you live in an area where you must passively accept whatever happens, due to neighborhood dynamics. For most of us, we can relocate out of violent areas, and start over.

The guns are all around, some rules to live by.

Teach children, that if they see a gun, don't touch it, leave the area, and tell an adult.

If they see a playmate handling a gun with no adult present, leave the area and tell an adult.

Keep finger off of trigger, until ready to shoot.

Teach that guns are very dangerous, avoid situations where alcohol and guns are both present.

Model good behavior around guns, get training, and teach that guns are for specific purposes, not toys.

Keep guns clean and in good repair.

Decide how to store guns and ammo to avoid theft, loss, and unauthorized access.

Support local gun groups and national gun groups that endorse responsible gun ownership.

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