Firearm Safety for Kids

      • Always lock your firearms when they are not being used. Lock ammunition in a safe place away from firearms. At an age-appropriate time, show your children a gun, and explain what it can do. You do not have to teach that the gun is "bad," only that it is a tool that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Nevertheless, do not assume that your child will not find your gun, will not be able to fire your gun, will not know how to make it work, or will remember the lessons you have taught. Very small children have fired guns accidentally. "I told them not to touch it" is not a good defense.
      • Always assume that your firearm is loaded -- and handle it that way -- even if you are absolutely certain you have emptied all the bullets. Many people have been killed by a bullet accidentally left in the chamber. "I didn't know it was loaded" is not a good defense.
      • Use a good locking device that is appropriate for the children living in your house. Do not depend on it as a sole safety measure. "I didn't think he knew how to work the lock" is not a good defense.
      • Never ever point a firearm at anyone in fun. Always point your firearm in a safe direction. Remember that a wall is not a safe direction. A distant tree in a public woods is not a safe direction. An animal that you can't clearly identify is not a safe direction. Bullets easily go through most walls and can injure or kill someone on the other side. It's easy to miss the tree and hit a person hiking. Hunters have accidentally killed horseback riders, thinking they were deer. You are liable for wherever your bullets go. "I didn't know she was on the other side" is not a good defense.
      • Teach your children that if they see a gun, they should not touch it, and they should immediately leave the area to go tell an adult. Teach them that guns are not toys, and that if a friend wants to show them a gun, they should immediately leave the area and go tell an adult. Impress on your child that this is not tattling -- this could easily save the friend's life or your child's own life. Do not avoid teaching these important lessons to your child or pretend that guns do not exist. They do, and they can be dangerous in the wrong hands or if handled improperly.
      • Do not assume that other adults think the same way you do. Before letting your child play at someone's house, ask if there are firearms in the home and where they are. It's a difficult question to ask -- particularly of people you barely know -- but asking this question could save your child's life. Remember that other adults have guns in their home. Other adults lock guns and ammunition together. Other adults keep loaded guns in a nightstand next to their bed or even under their pillow. Other adults have not taught their children important lessons about guns. These other adults will include people you wouldn't think would own guns. "I didn't even know they had a gun" will not bring your child back to life.

      Adults should be aware that a child could discover a gun when a parent or another adult is not present. This could happen in the child's own home; the home of a neighbor, friend or relative; or in a public place such as a school or park. If this should happen, a child should know the following rules and be taught to practice them.

      • Stop The first rule for a child to follow if he/she finds or sees a gun is to stop what he/she is doing.
      • Don't Touch! The second rule is for a child not to touch a gun he/she finds or sees. A child may think the best thing to do if he/she finds a gun is to pick it up and take it to an adult. A child needs to know he/she should NEVER touch a gun he/she may find or see.
      • Leave the Area The third rule is to immediately leave the area. This would include never taking a gun away from another child or trying to stop someone from using gun.
      • Tell an Adult The last rule is for a child to tell an adult about the gun he/she has seen. This includes times when other kids are playing with or shooting a gun. Please note that, while there is no better advice at this time for children or adolescents who encounter a gun by happenstance, the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians reports that such warnings alone may be insufficient accident prevention measures with children and adolescents.


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