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How many of you have children? How many of you know someone with children? They are everywhere, and because they are everywhere they can get into mischief just about anyplace. Where guns are concerned there can be no room for mischief.

I am originally from the state of Maine where the gun culture was quite a bit different from where I live now, in Massachusetts. People seem more savvy about firearms and firearm safety generally in Maine, this is what I have observed in my experiences within both states. Growing up I had a lot of supervised exposure to firearms, that was the key, and I learned early-on how to safely handle and use firearms, it was encouraged. Knowledge kept me safer than someone without firearm knowledge. If that makes sense to you, as I hope it should, than I will share a bit of advice designed to keep your little ones safer than they were moments before you started reading this. Children, we all want them safe.

When it comes to firearms I believe there is a wrong way, (based on wishful thinking) and a right way, based initially, on very simple, rudimentary education. You may think you are able to insulate your child from harm and from knowledge of firearms in your home, but what about when your child is old enough to visit and play with the next door neighbors children, in their home? How things are done in the house next door may be quite different than how you prefer to do things in respect to firearms. You cannot insulate your child from the world. Do you think it may be wiser to impart to your child the danger that can be, and is, associated with firearms?

Education, it is like a form of preventive maintenance. If you own a firearm and believe that by keeping the gun well hidden and a secret, that the child will be safer, that line of thought is only good to a point….until the child, caught up in the spirit of exploration, inadvertently finds the gun while you are mowing the lawn or taking a nap, etc. I like to call this the Easter egg syndrome, children are very curious about everything around them, their whole mission in life at a young age is to dig around looking for/at things. If you have kids you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t yet have kids, when you do, you will see soon enough that I do not speak with forked tongue. Would you rather the child find a gun while you are busy? I hope not.

I feel that the very best way is to take the mystery out of firearms where children, (or adults) are concerned, is to show the child the unloaded firearm. Explain the danger, let the child hold and look at it, let him know he will be in big trouble if he ever touches it without your permission or supervision, but the main thing is to take the mystery out of it. Once you do that, you will have taken the right step towards a child that will be safer around firearms. That is the first correct step on a long trail of steps where firearm safety is concerned. You do not have to show the child where you keep the firearm.  Let the child know that you are accessible, if he/she wants to see the gun in the future to come to you, and that you will drop what you`re doing to look at the firearm together, this accessibility is very important and should keep your child from going behind your back to look at the gun(s). But, you must keep your word about this at all times.

The ammo should always be kept separate from guns, and the unattended guns should, at a minimum, have trigger locks on them. Firearms should never be left laying around loaded. You`re probably are saying; that is just plain common sense! Do you think we are all idiots!? Well folks, if it is such plain common sense, why are children involved in accidental and tragic shootings in the home? That is not common sense at work, that is irresponsible gun ownership and parenting. I am not talking about gang bangers who burglarize homes, steal guns, and go out into the street intentionally and idiotically trying to murder one another, no.  I am referring to young children finding a parents loaded gun in a night stand, etc, and through curiosity, they accidentally shoot themselves or a sibling. Not only tragic, unacceptable!!

You can begin teaching a child at the tender age of 3 or 4, a very simple message; if they ever see a gun they…1. Stop,…2. Don’t Touch,…3. Go Tell An Adult. Children are very smart, don’t short change them, they can easily learn this with gentle reinforcement and incentive, make a big deal out of it when they repeat those words to you when they find the toy gun you use as a training aid, because it is a big deal, it could save a life one day. You should not take toy guns away, they are part of a healthy upbringing, set one aside as the training aid for the child to learn the lesson by.

If you own guns, or want to own guns, you owe it to yourself and your entire family to be proactively responsible in the safety of that ownership. For everybody’s safety, and for years of  family enjoyment, being involved in a great American heritage and birthright.

{Note; Please feel free to comment on the content of any of these articles.} Remember, Firearm Education Will Save Lives, Firearm Ignorance Can Take Lives.

Sincerely, Mark Shean

Former NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor,

www.mafirearmsafety.com  written 7-2-2009

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