One of the first and most important things we stress when starting out with guns is safety first.
Even experienced shooters will go through safety protocols and check and double check their weapons.
You can never be too safe when it comes to guns, especially when it comes to children.
If there are guns in the home, or you are, or plan on teaching your kids to shoot, gun safety for kids is very important and is a HUGE discussion that needs to take place.
Some parents are not sure how to approach it though, especially with very young ones.
The NRA also has a great article about how to talk to your kids about gun safety. They summarize kids safety in to 4 simple steps:
This is great, and to help in the conquest of safe gun methods, we have 7 more tips to teach gun safety for kids that are sure to be successful.
Teaching Gun Safety For Kids in 7 Easy Tips
Safety Tip #1: Real Vs. Play
A great way to teach gun safety for kids, is to teach them the difference between real guns and play guns.
This may seem like a simple, basic, and obvious way to teach gun safety for kids and it is.
Sometimes parents though assume their kids know the difference, and they never talk to them about it.
For little kids this an especially important and easy thing to do.
Many kids play with toy guns in their home. Very young kids may not realize how different their toy gun and a real gun are.
They may not understand that the consequences of toy bullets and real bullets are VASTLY different.
Discussing these differences is a HUGE first step in teaching your child gun safety.
Note: When playing with toy guns try to enforce some rules. For many, not allowing them to shoot others with Nerf bullets is not going to work. But you could teach your kid common courtesy steps like not pointing the gun at the face or people who are not playing. It is a small step in the right direction, but small is better than nothing.
Kids should NEVER play with a real gun.
Safety Tip #2: Be Open About Guns
Like with anything, the more secretive and hidden you are about something, the more curious someone becomes about it.
This is even more so with children.
If not handled carefully, a child’s curiosity about a gun can be lethal.
Instead of keeping guns a taboo subject and trying to avoid talking about them or looking at them, be open with your children.
Show them your gun. Let them touch it (of course when it is unloaded).
By demystifying guns, you make it so your children aren’t eager to investigate on their own, when the situation may not be secure or supervised.
Remember though, being open about guns, does not mean being careless.
Keeping your gun locked up, or in a hidden location is still a smart idea.
Safety Tip #3: Teach Them The Rules
This is a great time to talk about various safety issues, such as:
- Never pointing a gun at someone, even if you think it is unloaded.
- Never handle a gun without an adult.
- If someone is playing with a gun tell an adult IMMEDIATELY.
- Guns are dangerous, NOT toys!
Reviewing these rules EVERY TIME you talk about guns will drill them in your child's head.
Most parents know, that just because you tell a kid something, does not mean they will listen.
However, repetition does seem to help with kids, so going over the rules will help them to stick.
Safety Tip #4: Take Your Kids Shooting
When you and your spouse feel like your child is ready (this is different for every family, for every child), you may want to consider taking them to the shooting range with you.
You do not have to take them every time, but every so often is a good idea.
By taking them to the range, you are allowing them to:
- Practice the rules of safety you have been teaching them
- Demystifying guns by allowing them to handle one
- Letting them handle and learn how to use a gun in a safe and supervised manner.
- Helping them learn to respect the power and danger of guns and to not treat them as toys.
This tip follows the idea that “Practice makes perfect.”
How can a child practice good gun safety, if they are never allowed to handle a gun?
Safety Tip #5: Let Your Child Clean Your Gun
After going to the range, instead of letting your kid run off and play with friends, have them stick around and help them clean the gun.
This will help teach them that guns aren’t toys.
That they are something to treat with respect, and to take care of.
Any chance you get to instill the idea that a gun is not a toy, is a step in the right direction of teaching your child gun safety.
Safety Tip #6: Give Your Child A BB Gun
What better way to practice gun safety than with a BB Gun.
Giving your a child a BB Gun is a great way to teach gun safety to them.
A BB Gun is not as dangerous as a real gun, but looks and feels like one.
Before putting a real gun in your child’s hand, allow them to practice the safety skills and lessons you have taught them with a BB Gun.
If they can learn to respect a BB Gun, there’s a great chance they will respect and safely handle a handgun or shotgun when it comes time.
Safety Tip #7: Role Play
Role playing or talking through “what if” scenarios are great ways to go over gun safety with a child.
When role playing, come up with different scenarios that involve gun safety.
You could go over safety scenarios such is what to do if they find a gun at a friend’s house or what to do if a friend has a gun and shows it to you.
You could ask them to “show” you or discuss with you the right ways to safely handle a gun when it comes times.
All these situations and discussions allows you to teach gun safety to your children, by putting them in real life scenarios.
Video - Parents Talking To Kids About Gun Safety
Below is a great video from projectchildsafe.com that goes over how to talk to kids about gun safety.
Final Thoughts - How To Teach Gun Safety For Kids
Gun safety for children is a very important thing to know and to teach.
These 7 ways to teach gun safety for kids are a great place to start.
Not only will these tips better prepare you to help your kids understand guns better, but they will help keep them safe.
Stay safe and happy shooting!