It’s a month or two before Christmas or Hannukah and you decide to get all your gift shopping done early. You go to the store, find exactly what your kids want and bring them home. Being a parent, you, of course, want to hide the gifts from your kids so you wait until they aren’t around and hide them. You find that perfect hiding space. Maybe you put them under the bed or maybe you put them high up in a closet. Either way, you are sure that your kids will not find them. Some weeks later you walk into the room where the gifts were hidden only to find the boxes ripped open and your child playing with their new toy!
It happens to all of us. No matter how hard we try to hide something from our kids, they always seem to turn their Sherlock on and find what they didn’t know was there. Now take the above scenario I just described and replace gifts with firearms. It’s a scary thought. You bring home a firearm or already own one, but you don’t want your kids knowing about them. (I understand this doesn’t apply to everyone but in light of the many people asking about purchasing firearms, especially in the Jewish community in the aftermath of Pittsburgh, I figured I’d write about this). It is a question or statement I have heard countless times…”My wife and I have decided to get a firearm and we just don’t want our kids playing with them or touching them so we aren’t going to tell them about it.” In my humble opinion, that is a huge negative ghost rider.
Nearly everyone knows education is the key to being successful at anything. With that in mind, a parent needs to take every opportunity to ensure that their child is educated in whatever topic they feel important in order for their child to be successful. Firearms education is no exception. Guns are mysterious. They are cool. Hell, they are fun to use. Children understand this. They see it in their daily lives in things they watch and things they play. They also see it in society whether it’s a police officer carrying or a civilian exercising their Second Amendment rights. So, besides teaching children proper firearms safety, how can we educate them ensuring that accidental shootings won't happen. Well, ill tell you this! Hiding your firearms is not the way to ensure your child’s safety because if they see the safe, their natural curiosity will get the better of them and they will be hell-bent on finding out what’s in the box.
Showing your kids the firearms you own is key in the educational process. Allowing a child to participate in the gun owning process will help demystify firearms and take away the “coolness” of guns. Let me explain. My 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter know I own firearms. They know where I keep them. Never once have they even tried to sneak a peek and that’s because I let them participate in gun ownership. This is what I mean! My daughter asked me if I have any big gun (she is not attuned to the verbiage yet as she is not super interested). I told her yes I do. She asked if she could see it, so I went to my safe and took out my AR15 and shotgun. I proceeded to show her that my finger always remains off the trigger and showed her that the chamber was empty and how to check it. Once she understood that the rifle was now safe, she held it. Another scenario happened when my wife asked me to clean for the Sabbath (I am an Orthodox Jew). Of course, I took this to mean bring out the handguns, strip them, and clean them. As I stood in my garage listening to my wife’s instructions, my two older kids asked me what I was doing. I took the opportunity to educate them. I showed them how the pieces of my Glock connected. I showed them how to clean the handgun. I then decided to give them a job. I showed them how to ensure your firearm is clear and safe. Once they understood, I let them clean the barrel. I showed them how to apply the lube and then snake the barrel. They absolutely loved it. They now understand how the firearm works. In other words, I took the mystique away. I let them participate in an “adult” task and they are now educated and enjoyed it.
Let’s go back to the present scenario. I know it’s not the perfect analogy but you get my point. Kids are inherently curious. If you tell a kid not to touch, their curiosity is peaked and they need to touch (hell, I know adults who still touch wet paint when it says not to). If you tell a kid don’t go into that room, the wheels begin turning as to why they can’t go in and how they can get it!
I propose two other points. First, why do we teach our kids when they first begin to crawl not to touch the hot oven while something is in it? Do they understand? Not really. We teach them anyway, so once they are older they won't go near the hot oven. Secondly, do you have cooking knives on the counter? In my experience, most people do. But why do we keep sharp instruments that can kill on our counters where our children can access them? The answer is obvious. From a very young age, we tell our children not to touch. Then when they get to be about three years old (or maybe older), we purchase a dull children’s cutlery set and let the child use the knife to cut their food and teach them how to use it. You see where I am going with this.
Firearms education should not be hidden. If a person owns a firearm, I am not saying scream it to the world and publicly post on social media that you are now a gun owner (you never know if the NSA is listening). But hiding the gun from your child is a recipe for disaster. Make sure your firearms are locked up so your child can’t get to it but don’t hide the fact you own one. It will only make them more curious which leads to accidents.
- If they ask to touch the guns, take the opportunity to educate them.
- Give them jobs while cleaning. Let them snake the barrel. Show them that a clean firearm is respecting the firearm.
- Break down the firearm and show them how it works.
- Allowing them to participate takes away the mystique.
Yehuda Remer is the author of the Safety On series and owns and operates Thepewpewjew.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Thepewpewjew.