“Does Teaching Kids To Shoot Guns Make Them Safer?”

That’s the question asked in a recent ABC News report.

On one side, you have those that say, “Yes, of course.” By teaching children how to properly handle and respect firearms, you’re demystifying them, and in turn, squelching the curiosity that can lead to tragic accidents.

Future of shooting sports: Nearly 4 million youths attended training events that followed NRA guidelines in 2012, according to an ABC News report.
Future of shooting sports: Nearly 4 million youths attended training events that followed NRA guidelines in 2012, according to an ABC News report.

From the report:

“When you teach kids that young, you take the mystery out of the gun, and it’s a really valid thing to do,” Jones said. “We don’t teach them to shoot around barricades. We don’t teach them to clear rooms. We don’t teach them what happens in a carjacking.”

That’s Nikki Jones, leader of the Austin Sure Shots, a women’s-only shooting league in Texas that sponsors the Little Girls Youth Training Program, a firearm training initiative for elementary-age kids (6- to 11-year-olds). In her estimation, teaching the children is about safety, building self-esteem and pure sport.

On the other side of the debate, you have those that say a child’s still-developing brain does not provide them with the impulse-control needed to be trusted with a firearm under any circumstance, even with adult supervision.

According to the NRA, there are over 300 million privately-owned guns in the USA.
According to the NRA, there are over 300 million privately-owned guns in the USA.

That’s the opinion of Dr. Denise Dowd of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. The story quotes Dowd, who helps write policy for the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“Kids are impulsive, and you can’t teach that out of a kid,” Dowd said. “You can teach them, they can ‘parrot’ back, they can show you how safe they are, they can load it, they can clean it. But they should not be in independent control of that weapon because they’re impulsive because they’re children.”

Yes, the science and statistics are undeniable. A child’s brain is still developing. And yes, injuries to young people due to guns are a serious problem in this country — a Yale study referenced in the ABC News article solidifies that point:

…7,391 American kids and teens under age 20 were hospitalized from firearm injuries in 2009, according to a Yale School of Medicine study. That means, on average, a child or teen is shot almost every hour.

A closer look at the study cited shows that a majority of those 7,391 hospitalizations (4,143 or 56%) were 15-19 year-old assault victims.

Nearly 30% of all injuries were unintentional in nature, with the 15-19 year-old age group again making up the majority of those cases (67.8%).

Yale Study(You can read the whole study here.)

What the story and the study don’t address is how many young people involved in those cases had been properly educated on firearm use and where they gained access to their firearm to begin with.

I didn’t grow up in a house with guns. But I knew plenty of kids who did — not that I ever saw the guns. That’s because their parents did have the sense to:  A) properly educate their kids on firearm use and its consequences and B) keep the guns out of site and out of reach whenever they weren’t under strict parental supervision.

Given those conditions, my friends’ relationships with firearms were not only safe and healthy, but seemingly beneficial — those trips to the range or deer stand built positive childhood memories along with confidence and self-esteem. (To that last point, check out the Facebook of Gia Rocco, a 9-year-old sharp-shooter mentioned in the story — she’s amazing!)

The plain truth is guns aren’t going anywhere. And I don’t know of any situation where more education is not a beneficial route to take.

But I’m more interested in what YOU have to say. What’s your take on the ABC News story and the issue of youth firearm training in general?

 

 

 

 

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44 Responses to ““Does Teaching Kids To Shoot Guns Make Them Safer?””

  1. buck dancer

    Firearms are tools with specific purposes, the sooner a kid can learn that, the better off they will be, safety is of paramount importance in their learning about them.

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Thanks for sharing, buck dancer. As a general guideline, what age do you think is appropriate? How young is too young?

      Reply
      • Turtle

        I started shooting at 7. My dad bought us a pellet gun & a pellet trap target. He only let us shoot with his assistance at that point & drilled safety into us. Every time we fired he repeated some safety mantra. Aside from all the regular rules of safe shooting, he always drilled us, asking us what is beyond our target, is it safe to shoot. By the time I was 9, we had moved to a farm in the country & I was hunting & fishing on my own or with my brother who is a year and a half older. We were allowed to do so on our own land. But by the time I was 10 or 11 we were allowed to go further & had our own .22 rifles. We would stay gone all day & walk for miles across ours & our neighbors properties.
        We were extremely careful, if we weren’t we knew we would loose those privileges; all because he had emphasized safety so much.
        Dr Dowd must not be a parent, because the notion that all kids are impulsive isn’t true. Also, impulsive does not necessarily equate with being foolish or dangerous. Nor does it mean just because they act on impulses a lot mean that they are incapable of overcoming any such impulses in situations that merit caution. I would argue that kids are more curious than they are impulsive. Curiosity can be directed & satiated with knowledge & information.

        Reply
        • Al Buczkowski

          Thanks for sharing, Turtle — great example/points.

          Reply
  2. ScubaDave

    Teaching children respect for firearms is valuable. If your kids grow up in a gun-free home, what happens when they are at a friend’s house? You can’t count on parental supervision for every moment of your children’s life, they should be taught what guns can do, how to handle them safely, and what to do when an unsupervised “friend” decides to go digging in his daddy’s bedside table.

    Agree with the article that even with proper training, a child should not have unsupervised access to their own guns. By the time they are teens, different children mature differently, I don’t think it’s fair or wise to say everyone under 18 is too immature, or that everyone over 18 is mature enough.

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      “I don’t think it’s fair or wise to say everyone under 18 is too immature, or that everyone over 18 is mature enough.”

      Couldn’t agree more, ScubaDave.

      Reply
  3. alan lenske

    Well of course!! No different then learning to drive a car! You take a glass and then hands on for that don’t you. Thru life your taught or were taught how to be safe using many different things in life. Using the lawnmore ,a knife, climbing a ladder, using a hammer, don’t throw a hairdryer in the bathtub, etc!! Why would anyone think you don’t have to take a hunters safety class! In the 1960’s it was manitory in our school in Wisc.! They took it out of the school system saying it was to dangerous to teach!! and they make videos of kids running around with weapons shooting up the neighborhood!!! Whats become of our society!

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Interesting…what grade did these mandatory classes start, Alan?

      Reply
  4. Walter Brown

    I have been coaching 6 to 20year old shooters at regularly scheduled shoots for the last 24 uyears. Most of the shooters have been in the morning 6 Temple to 12-year old range. I have watched these youn people grow up. WITHOUT EXCEPTION they have transitioned into polite and responsible young adults. When first starting a few of them where whiney, self-entitled snots. While delt with patiently and consistantlt they improved. Many are from single-parent (Mom) homes. WITHOUT EXCEPTION I have been thanked and told that our coaching and club program has done so much for their son or daughter. My experience in some other youth programs has not been as positive.

    Reply
  5. James S. Ford

    My great grandfather was a judge and an excellent pistol shot. He passed his knowledge down to his sons and grandsons. My father was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the American Expeditionary Force in 1919 at age 18 based largely on his expert ability to shoot a .30-06 rifle. He taught me to hunt and shoot safely at age 7 and I qualified as an expert rifleman in the U.S. Army in 1963. I have trained my sons and grandsons from an early age to safely handle firearms and my teenage grandsons compete favorably against adult shooters in rifle and pistol matches. There has never been an accidental shooting in our six generations of handling firearms. I am a NRA Certified Firearms Instructor in pistol and rifle and a Range Safety Officer. I am a volunteer Hunter Education Instructor for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Since mandatory hunter education was established in Texas the number of hunting accidents and fatalities has steadily declined. There is no substitute for proper firearms education in reducing the incidences of firearm fatalities and injuries. The South Texas Marksmanship Training Center, Inc. is a non-profit, tax exempt, 501.C (3) organization dedicated to education and training in the shooting sports. It grew out of older pistol and rifle shooting clubs that have been competing since 1936. Because the earlier clubs and the present organization stress firearm safety training there has never been a firearms related injury in the 78 year history. It is deliberately disingenuous to add deliberate teen gang shootings into normal child related firearms accidents. There is ample evidence of kids as young as age 10 or 12 being pressed into “rebel” armies throughout the African continent and by drug cartels from Mexico to South America. Firearms safety is NOT what they are seeking.

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Great info, James. Appreciate your insight!

      Additionally, I agree with your point of on the disingenuous nature of quoting the study without breaking it down by demographic.

      Reply
  6. Hope

    Any supervised training is good for everyone. I grew up in a home with guns. My Dad was very strict and we were taught to use guns safely or we didn’t use them. We lived out in the country on a farm and we could just go from the house and hunt rock chucks and squirrels after the work was done. I started deer and elk hunting at 14 years of age and I always respected any firearm I used because I was taught to respect them when I was young. I am now 75 years young.

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Thanks, Hope. A great example of a healthy respect leading to a healthy, beneficial relationship with firearms.

      Reply
  7. Paul

    When my son was 7, I enrolled him in a target shooting club, every Saturday morning 9-12, rain, shine, tired or otherwise, I made sure to take him to his club. 3 years he became a very good shot, and many many times he wanted to skip, no,,,, I made sure and took him to class, he learned how to safely handle his firearm, became a great shot and guns were not a novelty, but more like a job. He learned to respect guns, and how to use them, as well as learned to follow through on something that he started. Now years later he teaches the same respect, pride, care, responsibility of firearms to my Grandchildren. As someone mentioned above, it’s like driving a car, as a kid, the car is new, cool, then as you drive, the car becomes a item that you must have, you learn about car payments, insurance, maintenance, you don’t go burning off your tires, well,,, you are going to have to replace them and if a mechanical failure happens due to a stupid act, you get to walk to work. ( oh, yes,, I forgot,,, at a young age you have to be taught that you work and supply for yourself and your future family) My bad,, kids now days watch mom and (maybe) dad waiting for the welfare check to come in. Which goes to prove my point,, as children, we learn from the examples around us.

    Reply
  8. Ethical Hunter

    There’s a huge difference between teaching them how to shoot, ethics, safe handling and cleaning techniques and allowing them to have un-attended (by a parent or guardian) access. I teach my two sons how to shoot, what to shoot at and ethical taking of game, but at no time have I ever allowed them to have access to any of my firearms. They know when it’s ok – the rest of the time they are not only off-limits, but also not accessible except by my wife or myself. I keep my firearms locked up all the time unless I am physically carrying them on my person. I do not display my guns in a gun cabinet or rack on the wall for all to see, they are kept in a vault which is also out of sight and off limits to anyone not invited into my home.

    Reply
  9. 1LTLos

    On the Impulse nonsense == A young persons brain is still developing true. However, unlike Progressives, Liberals and anti-gun nuts, a childs brain is not a skull filled with un-cured jello.
    What is developing are neural pathways and synapses which develop from experiences. The more experiences with firearms including the safe use and responsibility involved with firearms will only take that ABC News argument and toss it into the garbage where it belongs. I was given my first firearm at age 9 and today I am 62 — Never having fired a shot to take a life BUT I certainly have used a loaded and locked firearms to stop TWO break in intruders. I didnt have to shoot them.
    And our children will only become finer and more responsible persons with this experience and knowledge. Rounded off with a solid education in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights the real questions will begin to surface asking: WHy is there so much undeserved effort and energy toward repeal of the Second Amendment?” Were politicians to place the degree and amount of energy they pour into repeal of the 2A, and place that into discovering who the imposter in the white house actually is the USA would have discovered that this man is a fraud and incarcerated him for life a long time ago! ABC _ Go spend your time on another topic the Second Amendment is an American Right and is not going anywhere!

    Reply
  10. carolyn tennis

    To me gun safety is a great access for anyone to have learned. I grew up with it. I was taught it from the word go. I learned to shoot and handle a gun the correct way. I have never killed a person yet. I have read all of the responses to this question. All of the answers are about men and sons. Will I am a Grandmother, and my daughter and her daughters are shooters. They compatation shoot. They have taken courses on gun safety. They are hunters. My SIL is a instructor for
    concealed carry classes here in ILL. He also has the training to teach saftey and defensive classes. To Boys and “Girls. So yes education is a very good thing for anyone to have. I also am a concealed carry Grandma.

    Reply
    • Ron Howard

      Congratulations to you, Carolyn. Apparently you missed the comment from Hope, speaking of her shooting experience, but just because mostly men responded doesn’t mean we are biased against women shooters. In fact, I feel it is great that more and more women are joining the field of gun owners, and especially concealed carry. Although, I think that the idea of “concealed” carry is to keep it a secret, so no one knows you are carrying, isn’t it?

      Reply
  11. Ron Howard

    We had 8 children, some now reaching retirement age (I am 82). When they were young I had a small gun collection of various types and calibers which were kept secured in a locked gun cabinet. However, my children were all taught gun safety, how they work, and how to use them properly. Our children all displayed a proper respect for guns and we never had an incident where any of them attempted to gain access to a gun without my permission and supervision. I believe that hiding guns from children and not training them about guns is a tragety waiting to happen.

    Reply
  12. Stan

    I started teaching my kids and still teach my Grand kids the skills necessary to properly and safely load and fire a single shot .22 at between 4-5 years of age. I have no Doctors degree but I’ve raised 5 children of my own and have 9 grand children and have never had any firearms related accidents!

    Reply
  13. Sid Baumgarten

    I firmly believe that not only teaching kids to shoot makes them more mature and appreciative of the power of the weapon, but it eliminates the curiosity. Best way to get a kid to fool around with a weapon is to say “don’t touch”.
    I also feel that many of the ghetto kids would benefit from hunting–and likewise appreciate what death and blood is all about.—and not grow up only with “virtual” reality.

    Reply
  14. jimj

    absolutely a gun safety and shooting course would teach respect for firearms and make kids much more aware of safety and the consequences of improper handling of guns. those that oppose these thoughts need the same training and awarness of firearms to understand why its not the gun that makes a mistake but the handler. kids would not be pointing a gun at others and pulling the trigger likes it a video game.

    Reply
  15. Jeff Veilleux

    Form the time my four children could sit still. I took them hunting with me. They were shown how to shoot and they all went through a hunter safety course. They all knew the guns were to only be touched when an adult was around. I would like to see some statistics on how many hunting family’s children have committed crimes with firearms. I bet it’s very low. So I would say that children that grow up around guns don’t use them for crimes.

    Reply
  16. Michael loar

    I very strongly agree and feel that the sooner you teach your children and grandchildren about gun safety and proper use the safer and less likely they are to experience a tragedy in their early stage of learning and development. That’s is like saying that you should not teach your children to swim because they might get curious about water in a lake ,river or swimming pool and fall in and drown, if they are taught when young their curiosity is satisfied and they are better prepared to deal with a bad situation if it arises. I am 58 years old and was taught by my parents to swim at 3 years old, went hunting with my father at 4 years old and was water skiing by 7 years old and out hunting with a 12 gauge shotgun at 8 years old by myself with my parents permission. I bought that 12 ga shotgun with money I made doing chores and cutting grass on my own and therefore was allowed to hunt with it whenever I wanted to and I have never killed anyone or had a mishap with a firearm, can swim like a fish to the point that for me to drown I would have to be unconscious. I do not agree with any doctor that says a child brain is not capable of learning or retaining thing that they are taught at an early age. The sooner you teach them the sooner it becomes muscle memory and the less likely it is for tragedy to occur. Our gov’t and medical people are working toward creating a world full of idiots because they were never allowed to experience life mistakes so that they can learn from them and not repeat the same thing twice. I refuse to allow any one to tell me what I can teach my children or grandchildren and when or how to teach it to them. The gov’t and medical profession need to stay out of our business and worry more about the collapse of our countries failed political and medicals systems before it is to late to teach our kids what a great country AMERICA used to be. It is almost at the point of no return already. UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL.

    Reply
  17. Doug v in Burbank ca

    I started shooting with my daughters when they were 8 and 11.
    We shoot ,22 rifles and pistols at my gun clubs range. I’ve shown them the proper way to safely handle a firearm. They are only allowed to use them when I am with them. They enjoy the sport. We shoot water bottles and targets. I have no fear about them using firearms. If you teach them the Eddie eagle method stop, don’t touch, tell an adult you are starting things off right. The shooting sports build confidence and they learn how to respect a firearm

    Reply
  18. Chris

    I believe education and guidance is the best things for our kids no matter what the case, my be. If they are taught and experienced with handling and respecting firearms then there is no problem.

    Reply
  19. Bob Hill-Murray

    teaching kids and adults is the only answer and it is about maturity unfourtunatly there are many
    so called adults who do not have this Dr Dowd should study so call kids in war zones who handle
    arms very resonsbly because they have to mature fast

    Reply
  20. Bill Martin

    Everything you’ve noted above is accurate and of utmost value in raising young children around guns. “Knowledge is power”. The sooner a child learns to understand and respect the implications and proper handling of a firearm the safer the firearm becomes. Making firearms safer for everyone, not just the kids.

    Reply
  21. Pete in NC

    I taught my 2 daughters from a very early age safety. When they were very small it was just taking the firearm out, clearing it, the basic safety rules. Eventually graduated to actually handling the firearm, clearing it etc. They had a healthy respect for firearms, and never got into any trouble. Plus, since children spell love “T-I-M-E”, they got face time with Dad. Character development goes right along with that, and now I have two adults I can be proud of.

    Reply
  22. lester yarbrough

    Well i grew up in a home with a gun in every corner. started shooting at age 5 .hunted squirrl alone at 7.never even considered useing a firearm for evil i knew the danger of miss handleinng them 5 bro’s sisters also knew safe gun rules.

    Reply
  23. Ken Tristal

    It’s all unredeemed human emotions and nature. If one’s propensity is anti gun, your emotions will find some source to back it up.. The 50’s had the greatest toy guns and I wish I still had everyone from my Mattels 6 shooter(a real leather wrap around waist holster) to my Riflemans rifle to a great imitation Vickers machine gun that actually shot wooden bullets from a bandolere..hope I spelt that right) but as the years waned and I became a idiot hippie, my interest in guns also waned until..until I started reading stories where people who didn’t like guns insisted their views be your views! What?!! I thought…who the h-ll are you to push your beliefs on another. Inanimate objects only hurt folks if the opposing brain uses whatever is handy to do the intended harm…and since more folks, according to FBI stats, die or get hurt using stairs, the obvious conclusion would thus forbid their manufacture altogether; register them so eventually we can have them confiscated since registering has no real results or value anyway or raise fees so high along their manufacturing way they’d be removed without firing a shot! O…excuse me. Yep, it’s all emotion, nothing to do with reason. Thank you…ay the Lord Bless you all! Oh, and by the way….He has a Name: Yeshua or Greek I think: Jesus

    Reply
  24. Blessed and Thankful

    First off, youth firearm training has been going on for centuries and needs to continue. Hunters go way back and new ones will always need to be taught to handle guns.
    I saw the article about the “bear relaxing in hammock” first.
    So naturally when I first looked I thought this one was about “does teaching kids to shoot guns” (Neither one is logical, but I think bucks would be more likely than does :)

    Reply
  25. Karen

    Children or responsible parents who grow up learning that all guns are always loaded and taught how to use them are not the children who are shooting up schools and doing dumb things. Up until 1968, anyone 12 or over could buy guns in most areas and we had far less problems with children misusing firearms. Schools once had rifle teams. 4-H has a good shooting sports program and many sportsmen’s clubs hold classes and competitions for youth.

    Reply
  26. Pete K

    I have not read the full study yet! How many of those that were killed in the age group mentioned above, were either a part of a gang, or an innocent child killed by a gang member? When my children were in their early teens, I taught them to respect guns. I showed them what a gun could do to a target, and asked them if they knew what it would do to their body, if they were shot, even if by accident. Both of them now, 20 odd years later, still have a healthy respect for all weapons. Teach them, and teach them when they are young.

    Reply
  27. Mark

    My father taught me that we kids didn’t ever handle his unloaded cased firearms unless he was there and supervising, we didn’t disobey him on that, and there was never a problem, we knew where the guns were, we knew where the ammo was, it was stored separately, but we just listened to our father and never ever broke that rule, until Pa taught us safe firearm handling and we who would shoot, had practiced with Pa, far earlier than we took the state hunters safety course at 12 years old. If we had hunter safety, state certified, when we were 12 years old, when 14, we could hunt without a parent or guardian, if a kid didn’t have hunter’s safety, they had to have parental or a legal guardian with them until 16 if they were to hunt. I have taught hunter safety in both WI, and IL for 35 years, and I believe that hunter safety instructors, who are all volunteers, who dedicate their time to help with this vital education, and it is vital, also, to our entire nation, because if you look at WI’s hunter incident reports, the number of serious injuries by firearms, at least during the hunting season, has dropped off to near zero some years. An occasional heart attack, and maybe an occasional self inflicted gun incident, and an occasional some hunter shot one of his own party on a deer drive because of carelessness and sheer stupidity, but overall, the number of incidents are way way down.That’s 600,000 hunters in the woods during the 9 day deer gun season in WI as just one example, and there is rarely an incident, and probably 30% of that total number of hunters are probably under 18 years old. If a child is taught the three to 4 main firearm safety rules when they are young, I mean like 6-8 years old, 1. Treat every firearm just as if it is loaded(there is no such thing as an unloaded firearm!). 2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction, 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 4. Make sure of the identification of your target and what is beyond, if a child knows those few rules, especially treat every gun as if it is loaded and keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, there is no possibility of having an accident, because kids that are taught things like this early, won’t depart from it when they are older as well when they are young. Common sense, I wouldn’t want my 6-8 year old child going it alone with a Skill saw, or a chainsaw, or Draino, or Liquid Plumber, or sharp knives, or an automobile, until they clearly have been taught about these things, which alone, are a vital part of many peoples lives, but can, if used improperly can cause serious death or injury and as with firearms, when my father taught me about these other things mentioned, I didn’t ever mess with anything until I was old enough to handle them responsibly. Think of it this way, say your young son or daughter are over at a friends house, and a careless parent or partner has left an uncased firearm, such as a hand gun, sit on the coffee table while they quick ran down to the speedy mart to pick up something quick. Would you want your child, and the other child who may have had no experience with a firearm, to clearly know the 3 main rules of firearms safety, and this child who has been taught, says to the other, “that may be loaded and we are going to treat it as that, we don’t touch it, and we need to go outside and play until so and so comes home and then tell them they shouldn’t leave an uncased firearm lying around the house, or do you want two children who have never had any kind of firearm safety or firearm handling experience, being inundated with hyper partisan fear about “GUNS ARE ALL EVIL AND ANYONE WHO HAS GUNS ARE EVIL”, getting curious at that critical moment when no adult is there, and saying, “hey, lets check out that cool looking gun”, and then having a tragic accident which was a parent or partners fault to begin with by leaving a firearm uncased, loaded, just laying right there on the coffee table because they were “only going to be gone a minute and the bus from school won’t be there by the time I get back, I have enough time”, and comes home to find that kind of tragedy had unfolded at their foolish, stupid doing? Think about it, think it through, “teach them up right when they are young and they won’t depart from it when they are older”. Common sense. Yes, YES, teach every child safe firearms handling, I personally believe that it should be school curriculum in every public school. I don’t know about anyone else here, but I started smoking cigarettes when I was 11 years old, and I didn’t do things like that, up to that point I was a good kid, and I tried it because every adult and elder said you don’t ever smoke, they never explained why, just, don’t smoke, and I swear that I first tried it, because I was curious about what all the fuss was. I would occasionally steal a pack, because my Grandma, “Left them laying around with no supervision”, and that was all on me there, my fault, I knew that I was doing something that I should be doing, all around, that wasn’t in any way the fault of my Grandmother. I smoked for over 40 years, and chewed, and finally had both of those sad things lifted right out of my being. Teach them up when they are young, and they won’t depart from it, that is the surest way to avoid firearms incidents with children, and every statistic, regardless, clearly shows that as fact. People can try and spin anything they want, but any and every child who is taught up in the safe handling of firearms, is rarely injured or worse, or injures another or worse, their whole entire life, because they have simple respect and common sense to what they were taught about firearms. No different than safely using a Skill saw, or Draino or Liquid Plumber, or driving an automobile safely and respectfully, or handling a very sharp knife, just like being taught when I was young.

    Reply
  28. The Aviator

    Not all children are mature enough to be educated on firearms safety. There are many youngsters that will NOT be ready until they are in their late teens. Its up to a skilled and experienced instructor working together with an open minded parent to determine this. That’s my 2 cents worth.

    Reply
  29. Jim Wood

    I am 59 years old and times have changed drastically since i was a young child. I was raised in the woods in East Texas by by grandparents. There was guns all over the living room/ There bedroom and all were loaded. I was never aloud to touch a gun and was scared to death to even think about touching one unless my grandfather said I could. I had a 22 lever action until I turned 12 years old and was aloud then to go deer hunting with the big boys running dogs. That was such a big deal for me to. I was growing up and could go deer hunting with him. I will never forget him teaching me safety walking down a dirt road side by side when the dogs had already past the road. From that point on I was able to come in from school and get any gun he had and hit the woods alone. All he would ask when I returned home is it unload son. I would say YES SIR and he would say bring it to me. I would and he would check it out but he wasn’t letting me know why he wanted it. He was only making sure it was unloaded and then he would pass it back to me and say now son go and clean it and again bring it back to me. I thought that was such a big thing for me to get to clean it and show him I did. Then he would reload it and tell me to go put it beside his bed. Back in those days if the dogs started barking or the chickens woke you up then something wasn’t right. He would get the gun and his spot light and tell us to stay inside. What ever it was he would shoot it and leave it there. The next morning the dog would bring it to the porch and have it laying there for him to see Look I’ve done my job and you done yours.
    So yes I am a strong believer in teaching children. I have raised 5 one boy and then 4 girls. I now have 16 grandchildren and all of them have killed and learned how to skin a deer or hog. The youngest is 3 but his time will come. The youngest that I have purchased a gun for is 7 and I got her a Rossi 22LR single shot. and its pink. Her sister is 9 and she has a Henry youth 22LR lever action. They love to shoot with Paw paw. but in July these two will be Hog hunting with me and there aunt.
    But they know they can’t touch them unless I am home. And they are ready to have a shooting good time when I get there.

    Reply
  30. Bill Thomas

    My son’s mother moved in with a police officer just before his 5th birthday. At that point, I knew he would be around guns ( at my house as well, but I didn’t have control over the situation when he was with mama). At that point, I decided to begin my son’s firearm education, to mama’s dismay. I told her that he was going to be around guns and he needed to understand how serious that is. I am a range safety officer and have instructed many kids at their first shooting experience. My son has always been very bright and a cautious kid. He handled it very well and always followed all the rules. In an effort to remove the taboo, I told him that any time he wanted to shoot, all he had to do was tell me and we would go. He has always been aware of the power and responsibility of gun handling and is quite good at trap and skeet shooting (better than me). Now he is 18 and he taught his mother and stepfather proper range etiquette. I was very proud when he called me to brag about it. He got his first shotgun when he was 11 (just like I did) and he has rifles also and has never even thought about misusing them. I will choose education and responsibility every time rather than keeping a kid ignorant and tempting them to play with guns behind my back. That is how accidents happen.

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Thanks for sharing, Bill. Good examples of proper firearm training turning into a healthy, self-esteem boosting relationship.

      Reply
  31. Joel W

    My farther bought a single shot .22 cal and started my gun safety training at age 9. I had to know the ten commandments of gun safety forwards and backwards before touching the rifle. We then practiced target and plinking in a safe area. I was not allowed to handle the ammo until I was 16. As this was in the State of New Hampshire, we lived at the edge of town and I had easy access to the local woods to hunt crows and small game. Always aware of the safety rules and (respect for the animal being hunted).I have passed this method of training on to my son, and he will most likely do the same with his son. I have had no problems encountered with this type of training but a lot depends on the maturity of the child. Know the “student” well !

    Reply
    • Al Buczkowski

      Thanks for sharing, Joel — sounds like your training served you well! Also, good point at the end about “knowing the student”.

      Reply
  32. Dwayne Carlock

    At age 10, I was given a 410 Shotgun bought @ Sears & Roebuck. I had been squirrel hunting before then @ age 7-8 with my grandfather’s very old single shot 22 rifle. Unique to this rifle due to age, it only fired “shorts” & about every other shot the brass casing had to be taken out with a knife blade. It did teach me to kill what I was shooting because you would get only 1 shot and the trees of N Central MS are TALL. Well the 410 definitely made a difference in dependability (it wasn’t already old and stored in the barn). Even into my 20s I was hunting quail, dove, & pheasant with the same 410 full choke Ted Williams shotgun. Yes, my dad taught me to shoot & not waste ammunition as $ was tight for us back then. He rewarded my safety habits with the shotgun. I hunted with him, his brothers, and alone many years on property with which I was also very familiar. When my own son made his 10th birthday, I passed the 410 to him, still in excellent condition because I cared for it … loved, cleaned, stored, and kept in good mechanical and physical condition. He could shoot before then, as he began with pellet rifles then 22s from 6-8 yrs old. I also taught Hunter Education to youth beginning @ age 10 for many many years. Now my grandson is age 10, & the 410 is now his. The weapon is not new anymore, it’s 53 yrs old! It still looks good & fires exceptionally well. His dad & I are teaching him to shoot safely & with skill. Not being immodest, but I’ve consistently scored “expert” on combat & certification shooting as well as competing for a number of years. Children must be taught safety, caution, care, maintenance, and love for his/her firearm of choice. 56 yrs ago my dad began teaching me for a lifetime of enjoyment and putting game on the table. He was a hunter with a Winchester Mod 12 in his youth, that gun lovingly now stored as a historical & emotional remembrance of him (designed for lead shot).

    It’s sad that so many of those teenagers in the study are the result of gang & drug violence both intentional & “unintentional.” I’m proud of my family’s heritage in the Revolutionary War through Vietnam, and the ability to feed ourselves when it is both convenient and if it becomes a necessity. If only more families had a heritage of teaching about firearms, perhaps so many would not die as a result of firearm use & misuse. Thanks for sharing a fine article and allowing a “senior citizen” to remember again the special heritage that has been ours since 1776.

    Reply
  33. Riveraider

    When I was a kid I got my first gun when I was thirteen. I took a gun safety course that year it was the first year it was required in my state. Every kid I knew and all my cousins had guns. We carried guns all the time without adults and we carried guns to school we never had a accident or were impulsive. We usually had the impulsiveness beat out of us before the age of ten. We had to buy our own ammo so we didn’t waste it foolishly. We hunted predators for bounty and jack rabbits we sold to mink farmers. The rest of the animals we ate not leaving out our grandparents and elderly neighbors.

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