Guns and Kids at Home: It’s No Mystery

Paul Markel © 2013

Firearms Education
Firearms Education: Want to keep you kids safe? Choose Education over Ignorance.
Student of the Gun
Student of the Gun

LUVERNE, AL –-(’d be willing to bet that as long as there have been cartridge firing guns in the world husbands and wives have been having the “guns in the house” argument.

You may very well have participated in this in one form or another. Heck, you might be dealing with this issue right now.

If the man and woman were both raised in a rural environment, and both are experienced shooters, the discussion generally centers on practical and effective storage. However, if your new bride was raised in an urban or even suburban environment where guns were only scene on TV, the discourse can be much more intense. Ladies, if you are the shooter and your hubby is the anti-gun person; 1) You are rare indeed and B) We all have our crosses to bear.

Depending upon the flexibility or total inflexibility of the parties involved, having guns and kids under the same roof can vary from “get all those guns out of here” to “we need a bigger safe”. The simplistic and knee-jerk reaction of many so-called enlightened people is to purge the home of those dangerous objects. “It’s not worth the risk” goes the short-sighted logic. I’m not really worried about offending those who’ve made that choice because they don’t likely browse this forum or will have read this far.

Home Security
If all you ever plan to do with a firearm is shoot pop cans on the weekend or bunny rabbits each fall, purchase a sturdy gun safe and lock your guns up tight until the time comes to go out and play. There you go, problem solved.

However, if your overall strategy for home security involves the use of a firearm as a defensive tool we need to delve into this a bit farther. For a home occupied only by responsible adults, many choose the gun staging tactic. A loaded firearm or two or three are staged in strategic locations throughout the dwelling to be called on in crisis. For those with young children who will also have other young children as visitors, the staging tactic is generally out of the question.

My first piece of advice is to offer that YOU, mom and dad, are the first line of defense against felonious intruders. Arm yourself, that is, put the gun on your person and keep it attached to you. Yes, I know that is a foreign concept to many. Think about it. If your gun is secured to your body with an appropriate holster you never have to worry about where it is or who might be touching it. You won’t have to run out “to the shed” to get your home defense gun like Schwarzenegger in Commando (you kids can Google it).

If your house has been chosen by some vermin for a home invasion, you aren’t going to have five minutes to run upstairs, work the combination on the safe and grab your trusty iron. And, what are the kids doing while you are running around looking for a gun?

In a violent home invasion, if you are lucky you’ll have ten seconds to respond before coming face to face with one or more pieces of human debris. Paraphrasing the late great Col. Jeff Cooper, “if you are reading this and you cannot reach your gun in three seconds you don’t yet understand what it means to be an armed citizen.”

Education: Remove the Mystery
If you are going to have guns and kids under the same roof my preference is toward education over ignorance. I’ve successfully raised three kids to adulthood with loaded guns in the house the entire time. No negative results encountered. I took this advice from my firearm mentors and I’m simply passing it on.

When your kids are old enough to know right from wrong, good from bad, hot from cold, and sharp from dull, sit them down and explain the fundamentals of firearms safety. Make it a dedicated lesson. After I did this with my kids I told them if they ever wanted to see a gun or go and shoot one to just say the word and we would do it. We went to the range when they were old enough and they all cut their teeth on kid-sized .22LR rifles.

My wife and I also took the step further to explain that if they were ever out, friend’s house, playground, whatever, and saw a gun not to touch it. If their friends were screwing around with a gun tell them to stop or leave the area.

A good friend of mine, Mike, loves to tell the story of his six year old daughter chiding him when she saw an unloaded air pistol on their kitchen table. She ran into the living room and told Mike “You need to put that away. A small child might touch it”. She was the smallest child in the home. Naturally she had been given the firearms safety lecture.

Teach your kids about gun safety, let them touch and shoot the guns the can physically handle. That will remove the mystery and allure of the firearm. It’s no longer the forbidden fruit and something they feel like they need to sneak around and find.

You Cannot Sterilize the World
For the “guns are dangerous” crowd who believe we can keep children safe by removing all guns I’d offer a few facts. Despite the fact that there are millions of firearms in the United States of America, accidental death and injury from guns is a minute statistic compared to the leading causes.

The leading causes of accidental death for children in the U.S.A. are automobile crashes, burns, drowning, falls, and poisoning. I’ll bet next month’s paycheck that everyone reading this article uses a car, has a stove, matches and candles in their home, has running water and a bathtub, drain cleaner, and bleach.

If you have removed gravity from your home to prevent falls please send me a letter immediately. I’ve got to know your secret.

Student Of The Gun; A Beginner Once, A Student For Life
Student Of The Gun; A Beginner Once, A Student For Life

How old were your kids when you taught them not to play with fire or touch a hot stove? Did you also teach them not to play with sharp objects? Did you teach your little ones to swim? To look both ways before they cross the street, to wear a seatbelt in the car? You can teach them all those things but you can’t teach them that firearms are not toys? Yes, you know you can.

I’ve been a professional gun writer for twenty years. During that time I’ve had what I thought were some pretty cool guns to T&E. I recall several years ago having a Barrett M82A1 to test out. It might have well been a new lawnmower as far as my kids were concerned. “Ho, hum, dad has a new gun, what’s on TV?”

Hiding guns from kids, keeping them a mystery or a forbidden object is the surest way for them to seek them out, whether inside or outside your home. Remove the mystery; remove the desire for unauthorized access. It’s not all the difficult folks, but somehow it still is.

About the Author
Paul Markel has been teaching and writing professionally for nearly three decades. A signed copy of his latest book “Student of the Gun; a beginner once, a student for life” can be ordered directly from

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8 years ago

Take them hunting with you and let them see first hand what a gun will do. Both your boys and girls need to see that a gun is not a toy and once you pull the trigger you can never take it back. Killing animals for food imprints that in your mind for life. Shooting paper does not.

8 years ago

Great article. Vary true, and I agree.