Guns have always been around in my family. My dad and grandparents have had multiple rifles and handguns while I grew up and I never had the desire to play with them. I never attempted to play with them. Why? Because my parents, and my parent’s parents taught them about the proper use and safety when using or around guns.
When I was about my son’s age my dad took me out near a large piece of property than my grandparents owned over a little wooden bridge he taught me how to shoot his .22 Marlin Model 60 rifle. He told me about how to be safe with the it and how a gun should be treated and used. He then threw little objects into the creek below for me to shoot at. I remember being very proud of myself when I would hit the targets as they would flow downstream in the creek.
Again, he taught us to not be afraid of guns. Instead, we were taught the proper uses for a gun and the proper handling of guns. Most importantly we were taught to be respectful and responsible when handling or being around guns.
A couple years ago, I let my dad know that I would like to be willed the .22 and the 308 because I have very happy memories of him and I with those two items. He already had another .22 so he gave me the one I shot when I was younger. The only problem, it is very dirty and the spring action is broken and needs repair because it will jam every 5 or so shots. My dad has been able to occasionally fix the spring but it’s not been truly repaired. So, I decided I’ll ask my Facebook friend who sells guns and may know how to fix the problem. So I reached out on Facebook and he asked me for the specific model number of the gun.
So my son and I were working on getting the video game systems ready to be moved to his room from the basement and I see a response from my friend asking about the model number of the gun. I get up and start to go to the utility room (where I store the rifle) and he asks me where I’m going. I tell him simply that, “I’m going to get my gun”.
As I come out of the utility room I notice him freaking out slightly and already up the stairs. I laugh a little bit and call him back downstairs. I show him how I was handling the gun and making sure not to point it towards anyone. I told him that an unloaded gun (after verified to be unloaded) is basically a big stick. We discussed the following points
- Always act like a gun is loaded, even if you know it’s unloaded
- Never point a gun at another person or ANYTHING you do not intend to shoot
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to have a bullet come out
- Immediately after picking the gun up, you make sure it’s unloaded and nothing chambered.
- Always make sure the safety is on (after I explained the safety to him)
- Never look in or put your face or other body parts in front of the barrel. Even though it sounds obvious, it must be said.
- ALWAYS treat a gun with the utmost respect and responsibility
We had other scenario discussions and he understood what I meant. I then explained to him how my dad had taught me to shoot that same gun. I let him know that pretty soon him and I would go out and I would teach him the same thing and that one day, if he chooses, he’d be able to do the same thing with his son or daughter. He got a little excited at that idea.
So we went over the safety and handling topics one more time and I thought I’d ask him a simple question to test his newly acquired knowledge.
I asked him, “what is most dangerous about a gun?”
… at this point I was hoping for a response similar to, it’s most dangerous when it’s not treated with respect and responsibility, when you’ve assumed it’s unloaded and it is actually loaded, when you forget to turn the safety on. Instead, I was floored.
My 9-year old’s response was, “A gun is not dangerous, the person who has the gun is dangerous. If they are mean they might shoot you or do something bad. The gun won’t shoot you all by itself, that would be silly!” He started to giggle, and I reminded him that when talking about guns we don’t joke around – at all – he got serious again. I narrowed the question for him. This time, I just asked him how should a gun be handled. His response was perfect – with respect and responsibility.
Very proud of my little guy.