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How Young Is Too Young For Firearm Safety?

Updated on February 7, 2014

Safety begins when our children enter this world; from day one. As parents we prepare our homes for them. We put items of value out of reach. We put locks on cabinets, toilets and door knobs. We do everything we can to keep our children safe. We teach our children right from wrong. We teach them to stay away from ponds and rivers, to look both ways before crossing a road, not to touch electrical outlets and put cleaning chemicals and medications out of arms way. We teach them to listen and trust us because we want to keep them safe. But how many parents actually teach their children about firearms and what to do when they encounter one?

By the time our children can hold a plastic toy gun, shouldn't we begin teaching them about safety? Consider this; over half of parents who donot have firearms of any sort in their home never discuss firearm safety with their children. Even less never discuss with children what to do if they encounter one. Children are curious, they see guns glorified on television and in video games and yet discussing gun safety with children is less of a priority than teaching them not to touch a cup of hot coffee.

Statistical Data From the Center for Disease Control

The number of deaths per year from accidental discharge of a firearm, all ages:

  • 2008 = 592
  • 2009 = 554
  • 2010 = 606
  • 2011 = 851 (preliminary)

Number of deaths per age group during 2010 as the result of an accidental discharge of firearm:

  • Ages 1 - 4..........25 deaths
  • Ages 5 - 14........37 deaths
  • Ages 15 - 24....145 deaths

Where to Begin?

When your child is old enough to hold a plastic toy gun, you should begin discussing safety related issues. Teach your child to treat a toy gun just as if it was a real; example, a real gun should never be pointed at another person. Discuss safety expectations inside and outside of your home when playing with toy guns. Most importantly, teach them what to do when they come across a real firearm. For the purpose of this discussion, a firearm can be a rifle of any sort, handgun, bb, pellet, paintball, etc... Lastly, show them the below video on the Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program and answer any questions they have.

The Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program began in 1988. It is geared for children of pre-kindergarten to third grade. The video focuses on accident prevention. Created by the NRA, this video does not teach children about firearms, offers no firearm judgment, never mentions the NRA, does not encourage the purchase of firearms, and is not sponsored by any federal or firearm manufacturer funding. There is no hidden agenda with this video. The video strictly teaches safety and accident prevention. It teaches your children what to do should they or one of their friends encounter a firearm whether it be within your house or at a friend’s house.

Gun Safety for Children with Eddie Eagle

Eddie Eagle teaches children the following steps to take when they encounter a situation with a firearm:

  • STOP!
  • Don't touch
  • Leave the area
  • Tell an adult

What Else Can You Do?

As an adult and firearm owner, it is your responsibility to properly store your guns to ensure they do not get into the wrong hands. Proper storage methods are to keep your gun unloaded, keep the chamber open and store separately from ammunition. Never hide your loaded gun; children will find it!

I recommend to invest in a proper fitting lock. A lock will fit around the trigger and prevent it from being pulled. These are normally unlocked by a key, therefore, it is extremely important that the key is put in a safe place and out of reach of children.

Another storage option is a gun safe. Gun safes can be as big or small as you need them to be. They come with various types of locks including a quick open or a combination and key lock (where you need both to gain access). Some gun safes come with adjustable shelves so that you can not only store your ammunition but you can include important documents and jewelry.

As parents, it is our job to protect and teach our children. It doesn’t matter if you are a household who does not have firearms. It does not matter if you do not allow your children to play with toy guns, watch television shows or play video games with guns in them. It doesn’t matter if you have taken proper safety measures within your household for storage of your firearms. Chances are your children will be exposed to firearms at a young age outside of your home. That is why education is the key in protecting your children.

Gun Safes

Gun safes come in just about every shape and size imaginable. They are very affordable and offer a variety of accessibility. Some safes will even indicate if an attempt to open the safe was made unsuccessfully.

And The Survey Says ...

At what age do you think children should start learning firearm safety?

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Did You Know?

A child as young as 3 years old has enough strength in their hands to pull a trigger of a handgun. (Source -

According to the National Rifle Association, firearms can be found in half of the households in the United States.


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