Recently, Melody Lauer of Citizens Defense Research posted an excellent and sobering blog article on kids and gun safety. She conducted an informal experiment with her own children and toy guns, and recorded the results of leaving the toy guns unsecured in her children’s play areas. You should go read it. The article spurred my memory of a picture my wife recently sent me while I was out of town. All guns were secured in safes during my absence, but I had left my blue gun in the drawer in my bedside table. The picture below is my 18 month old son with the blue gun after he opened the drawer and retrieved it to play with. No doubt it is of particular interest to my son, as he often mimics what his dad does. For me, there are a couple of critical learning points here.
First, securing guns in the home when young children are present is of paramount importance. This is as simple as either keeping your pistol in a holster on your body or locked in a quick access safe. Be aware, not all safes are created equal, so choose wisely. The blog linked to in the preceding sentence has links to several videos where young children are able to open commonly available personal safes with relative ease. Having experienced recent issues with the locking mechanism of the Stack On personal safe that I currently use, I will be upgrading to this model from Fort Knox Safes. The same company also makes a safe to secure a shotgun for ready access, but it is almost double the cost.
A more affordable option that I currently employ for my shotgun is to store it on a Vertical Gun Rack high enough that it is out of reach of my young children. This alone, however, is not enough. In addition to keeping my shotgun stored high and out of reach of my children, I use a chamber and ejection port lock from IC13 Arms & Accessories that prevents the action from closing and makes it impossible to chamber a round or fire the weapon. There are versions of the lock available for the AR15 as well. Unfortunately, keeping the gun out and available for rapid access means that the keys for the lock need to be kept readily accessible yet secure from unauthorized access. I work around this caveat by keeping the keys in my bedside quick access safe along with my pistol. Thus, my default response to an armed intruder in my home will be my pistol, backed up by a quickly accessible long gun in my “safe room.” The other big issue with the chamber lock is that it does not secure the gun against theft in case of break in. This is the risk that I run by keeping the gun more accessible than it would be in my larger gun safe.
The other critical learning point is that kids will mimic what their parents do as they interact with the world around them. Just as you must watch your language around young children that are learning to speak, you must also watch your gun handling. Make the fundamental firearms safety rules a practice AND a sermon. Literally, practice what you preach. Whenever you manipulate your firearms in view of your children, do so in a safe and appropriate way. Be constantly cognizant of muzzle direction and trigger finger discipline. As your kids mature, teach them the safety principles with words AND actions. Expose them to the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. Instill good habits from an early age.
One educational resource I have already begun to use is the children’s book “Safety On: An Introduction to the World of Firearms for Children.”
Although it is perhaps a bit advanced for my toddler son and infant daughter, it will continue to be featured in the bedtime story rotation, so that basic firearms safety principles will be learned through repetition in a daily routine. If you have young children in your home, I highly recommend this book. Hat tip to Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training for highlighting the book for his followers. I will be including it on the recommended reading page of this blog because it is such a good option to expose young readers to the subject.
So, if you have kids in your home, whether they are yours or somebody else’s, secure your guns. All of them. Always. No excuses. Use redundant systems to guard against honest mistakes. Teach by example, and never forget that your kids are constantly watching you for cues to guide their behavior.
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