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Choosing to own firearms for home defense and personal protection is a responsibility, especially with children in the home. Practicing firearm safety, proper storage and clear communication with your entire family will only help you make your home safer. Bottom line, you need to be the resident expert when it comes to guns in your house. That means walking the walk and talking the talk.
Firearms are not taboo in our home. They are simply tools my husband and I handle safely, proficiently and with confidence. Just like other potentially dangerous items around the house—things like hot stoves, chef knives and other tools—we have rules and procedures when it comes to safety and how we protect our family.
First and foremost, we always follow the firearm safety rules.
I don’t believe in casual gun handling. Deliberate and intentional handling of firearms in the home and beyond will set the example for every member of your family, no matter their age.
It’s important to remember that kids are naturally curious and you’ll need to gauge maturity when it comes to talking about firearms. Each family is also different, and how you talk to children about guns can vary, but it’s best to have the conversation as early as possible. It’s why I wrote Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules: A Children’s Book About Gun Safety for parents of small children. The book uses the universal message of avoidance and helps parents start the conversation at a young age.
As children mature, don’t wait for them to ask you questions. Initiate the conversation yourself. Periodically inquire if your kids have any questions about firearms, how you use them and the safety rules. Perhaps you can even plan a fun day at the range. Your kids will watch you practice safe gun handling in a way that will establish you at the go-to resource. Even if your children don’t seem interested in guns or shooting, don’t take it for granted. Remember, as a parent, you are the trusted expert your children come to for answers.
As you talk about emergency plans for your family for fire, severe weather and other dangerous conditions, be sure to talk to your children about the reasons you have firearms in the home. Kids are great at coming up with “what-if?” questions. Be ready to answer them. Establish clear roles and define important steps to address solutions to their questions. Your practical home procedures and clear dedication to family safety will help each member of the family feel prepared and cared for.
Let’s be honest, there are those out there who believe we shouldn’t be able to carry or protect our homes and families with guns. This messaging can be very confusing to kids and tough to navigate for parents. Children might hear one thing on the news or in school and find something quite different at home. It’s important to put yourself in their shoes when you have these conversations. It might mean not talking about your family’s firearm use outside the home, and discussing the issues and the reasons you carry.
Finally, out of sight does not mean out of mind. Safe storage has become a touchy subject, especially when those who don’t support gun ownership call for impractical and expensive storage options and procedures. Securing firearms doesn’t have to be extreme or inconvenient. It’s a matter of taking steps to control access when they are not in use, establishing family rules and talking about real firearm safety with everyone in the home.
For additional resources, videos and information the National Shooting Sports Foundation has an excellent program called Project ChildSafe. Learn more at projectchildsafe.org.
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