[Josh Montgomery approached GSL about publishing some of his work a few weeks ago. He delivered this to me today. I told him he did well. Hopefully he’ll send more…]
by Josh Montgomery
Earlier this year, two 9-year-old boys—Sam Gonzales and Landry Collins—found a gun in Pleasant Grove, Utah. This might sound like the beginning of a tragedy. But things went a bit differently.
The gun was stuck under some ice near the sidewalk when the children discovered it.
“I kind of thought it was a phone,” said Landry.
The two boys started chipping away at the ice encasing the gun. “I thought it was a harmonica, so I started chipping up the ice,” explained Sam.
The boys worked at the ice until they recognized the object as a gun. “Right here is where the trigger was.” Landry pointed out where the gun had left an imprint in the ice after the gun had been secured by police.
Sam said, “It scared me a lot,” when they realized they had found a gun.
The boys decided to leave the gun alone. When the school bus arrived, the two children told the bus driver they’d found a gun and showed the bus driver where the gun was. The bus driver took control of the firearm and safely held it until the police arrived.
The police believe that the gun belonged to a man who had use it to hold a woman hostage in her home. The incident prompted a SWAT standoff.
The police credit Sam and Landry’s knowledge of gun safety for their smart response.
“I’ve been told that you should treat every gun like it’s loaded,” Landry said.
The police were thankful that the children left the gun alone, and found an adult they knew to handle the firearm.
Clearly, the situation could have turned out very differently had the two boys hadn’t known, or had failed to follow the gun safety rules.
Fortunately, you can easily teach your children what they need to know to respond the way these two boys did.
What to Teach Your Children About Guns
It’s natural to default to the gun safety rules when you start teaching children about guns. However, in order to follow the usual gun safety rules, the child must handle the gun.
So, while it’s still important to teach safe gun handling, it’s obviously safest if children don’t handle guns without supervision.
Now, should children be allowed to handle and shoot guns? Yes.
By themselves, guns are no more dangerous than an electrical outlet. It’s mishandling firearms that causes danger. If your children follow safe gun handling practices, there’s no inherent danger to handling firearms with your children. A child can be just as safe with guns as any adult, if they follow the firearms safety rules.
But again, if the child finds a gun while there’s no adult to help them, it’s best if they leave the gun alone.
So, the first thing that children need to know about guns is that—if they encounter a gun—there’s no benefit in getting closer to the gun without a trusted adult there to help them.
This applies regardless of where your child finds the gun, be it at a friends house, or in a public restroom where a concealed carrier forgot their gun (this happens).
The NRA developed four simple rules to help children understand and remember what to do if they find a gun:
Tell a grown-up.
A big key in this concept is telling trusted grown-up. It should be someone they know, and that they know is proficient in handling firearms safely. Unfortunately, there are plenty of adults in the world with terrible gun handling habits.
The vast majority of gun injuries involving children happen when a child is handling a gun unsupervised.
So, it’s sensible that the first safety rule your child learns is not to handle a gun unsupervised. And they need to know why: because it’s dangerous.
At some point, your child will become proficient enough to handle guns by themselves. It’s up to you when that is. But, until then, there is no benefit in getting closer to a gun without a trusted adult there.
How to Make Your Home Safer if You Own a Gun
Obviously, children sometimes disobey instructions. They’re naturally curious. Moreover, they enjoy exploring things on their own.
So, it might be tempting to check out a gun, if they find it, despite what they’ve been told about the danger. That’s why teaching the gun safety rules is still mandatory, no matter what.
That’s why it’s also important to have prevention measures in place. Children are as curious as cats. And you know what happened to the cat.
Keeping your family safe when you own guns boils down to one simple action.
Keep Your Guns Inaccessible to Unauthorized Persons
This may or may not mean locking up your guns. There have been landmark civil rights legal battles to ensure that it’s your choice as to whether or not you want to lock up your guns.
But, be careful. Locking up all your guns, or even disabling them with a mechanical lock, means locking up your safety. So, keeping your guns inaccessible to your children may simply mean storing them where they are out of reach of the little ones, but easy for you to get a hold of.
Clearly, if your guns are stored where they’re difficult to access, it may be difficult to get to them quickly enough for home defense. If you want to keep your guns in accessible, but still want a gun available for home defense, keeping your gun on your person keeps your gun away from children and enables you to access it immediately, if you need it.
Putting the guns up
Teaching your children gun safety is absolutely critical. Without proper gun safety knowledge, your children may not respond to an unattended firearm as admirably as Sam and Landry, the smart boys from earlier.
Gun safety for children starts before they even pick a gun up. Which is to say that they need to know not to pick a gun up without proficient adult supervision.