I signed my kids up (and attended) a free event put on by Friends of the NRA and other local shooting organizations at one of our largest outdoor gun range. I’m always up for an opportunity to get my kids around guns and handling them under the safety and supervision of professionals such as law enforcement, our local SWAT team, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife.
It’s very common in Alaska; most of our high schools have indoor ranges and offer competitive shooting as a PE elective. There are more guns than people in this state, most homes own more than one! (And by the grace of God, every school shooting attempt or threat has been thwarted by our hard working law enforcement who assigns police officers to each school and does not delay in addressing social media comments as serious.)
However we moved to Alaska in 2009, so we weren’t raised that way. My husband and I grew up in families that consider guns to be evil and would never own one. The first time I went to the range, I was 30 years old. So this isn’t something that brings warm childhood memories for us.
In fact, If I google search my brain so to speak on the words “gun” and “school”, the first thing that comes to mind was the incident at Columbine – and the avalanche of copy cat threats and evacuations at the schools I attended. I also recall a lot of tragedies where a child found a gun and killed himself or a sibling – sometimes these children who pulled the trigger were barely 4 years old, not even old enough to be safe in Kindergarten during the school day.
Aside from all the personal reasons my husband and I have changed our minds and choose to conceal carry ourselves, I want my kids to fire a gun (safely, at the gun range, with adult supervision) as often as possible because:
- Video game and TV violence has snuck in gun usage to younger and younger ages. My kids have seen people shoot at Captain America and he lived to defeat the bad guys with nothing more than his shield. But hearing the gun go off on the TV or playing a game where a gun is fired doesn’t have the child register just how powerful these weapons are. The moment my children felt the recoil of the gun in their hands, and heard the deafening noise of it discharging (which reminded them to put on their ear protection and leave it on all day!), their perspective on them changed. They can easily separate fact from fiction now.
- Curiosity has killed the child tragically ONE too many times. Kids are naturally drawn to risk and adventure; a gun is not one of those things I’m letting my children have ANY curiosity about. There’s no mystery in it. They’ve taken law enforcement led classes where they disassembled and reassembled guns to clean them, they’ve been able to look down the empty (unattached) barrel of a gun and hold bullets in their hand.
- All of our homeschooling or parenting purpose boils down to building a relationship with our children where they feel comfortable coming to us FIRST as a reliable and honest source of information. One day, when they’re older, we’ll have to bite the bullet and have honest discussions about sex and dating that we aren’t exactly having right now. But it would be very dangerous for me to assume that they’re too young to encounter a gun in this day and age, so we are going to beat everyone else to it.
Conclusively, there’s something taught with gun usage that is drilled into their minds and I believe it’s life-saving: Because you have to assume every gun is loaded and lethal, NEVER point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy. Target practice is appropriate. Waving a gun while recording yourself in selfie mode to try to look cool is NOT.
If nothing else, regardless of your stance on gun control rights or the second ammendment, I’m going to recommend you teach your child something about guns – no, I’m going to beg you to do so. I’m going to step on your parenting toes and implore you to drill this into your child the way you know “Stop, Drop, and …” (Roll, that’s right.)
If you see a gun anywhere at any time: STOP, Don't Touch, Run Away, Tell a Grown Up. Never, ever try to transport the gun to an adult. And don't try to argue with a friend who is holding one or convince them to put it down. The moment you see a gun, run out of that building or area to another place immediately and ask a grown up for help calling the police. This response saves lives!