By Sarah Carling
My search for Gun Safety For Kids & Toddlers advice.
Manasquan, N.J. -(Ammoland.com)- As a parent one of your main goals in life becomes keeping your child safe.
What that looks like as they grow changes over time, it starts out when they are babies with baby proofing and foam bumpers, then as they grow you start having to hide the dishwasher tablets in case your toddler eats them, then you have to teach them how to cross the road safely on their own, and eventually how to drive and live on their own safely as a competent adult.
We just accept that the safety concerns we have for our children change over time, and for many of these safety concerns there is a heap of information out there.
If you search for baby-proofing on Google you will find thousands of articles telling you how to keep your children safe when they're babies, however, when you start looking for gun safety for kids & toddlers the information is scarily lacking.
I can find plenty of information about how to start teaching an older child about gun safety, but there is scant information about toddlers. Now you might say that gun safety for toddlers is simple, you simply lock your guns away and keep them away from your children, well that's great if all you do with your guns is take them out to the range once a month, but that's not me, and it's not my friends. We conceal carry every day, our children see us wearing our firearms, my 2 year old can identify which gun is mine and which belongs to my husband (and believe me she gets very upset if we happen to switch guns for the day).
I want to start teaching my toddler about firearms, I want to help make sure she has a great foundation that we will build on as she grows so that her exposure to firearms grows and evolves as she grows.
These are the things I have been thinking of lately, and it was triggered by two events. The first was when my 2 year old came home from daycare one day, pointed her fingers at me and said “pew pew“. I was floored, I couldn't believe that she was learning about toy guns already. But then we went to a friends house for a play date, and lo and behold they had Nerf Guns.
Of course my daughter wanted to play, and I floundered as I tried to teach her how to shoot this toy gun while laying the foundations of gun safety. I made sure she didn't point the gun at anyone and only fired at the action figure targets that were set up.
Then as I was writing this article the case of Jamie Gilt happened, where her 4 year old reached a loaded gun on the back seat of her car and shot her as she was driving. We know that she had been shooting with her son, but what work had she done to teach him gun saftey? Had she started early like I wanted to, or had she taken a different approach?
That information wasn't available, and we never get to know how the parents whose children get a hold of guns taught gun safety, so how are we to know what works and what doesn't?
Gun Safety For Kids & Toddlers
Ultimately I was unprepared, all of the information out there said that we start having gun safety talks when kids are 4 or 5, but that's too late, by then they have already learned about toy guns from their friends and maybe even TV. There are endless examples of two and three year olds getting hold of guns and shooting themselves, siblings or even parents. I needed to come up with a plan to help me feel secure in my toddlers safety.
We started out with pictures of guns, she can identify them easily so now every time we see a picture of a gun (which you can find more then you might think) we tell her that she must never ever touch one. Next we started reinforcing that every time we put our guns on to go out, “yes that's mommy's gun, you mustn't touch”. At the suggestion of a friend we will be getting a realistic looking toy gun that we can use to teach her not to touch more interactively, having the gun out and reminding her not to touch in a safe environment.
Rules Of Gun Safety For Kids & Toddlers
Eventually we will progress to teaching her the rules of gun safety, letting her see us shoot and see how destructive it is, letting her shoot her own toy gun until she's old enough that we can introduce her to the real thing.
The most important thing for now though is that I'm happy we pulled our heads out of the sand and started doing something. Just like I'm starting to teach her about knives by allowing her to start chopping with a butter knife, I feel it's so important that I start doing something to teach her about gun safety.
Disclaimer: Of course we, like everyone should, ensure that our guns are out of reach and locked away at all times, and we never give our child even the slightest chance of being the kid who gets hold of a firearm, loaded or not.
I would love to hear what others do or have done with their children and any other tips you can share for safely introducing toddlers to guns and helping to ensure their safety.
Gun Safety For Kids & Toddlers Resources:
- NRA Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program : https://eddieeagle.nra.org/
- 10 Rules Of Safe Gun Handling : http://www.nssf.org/safety/basics/
- Gun Safety Videos : http://tiny.cc/i6m99x
- Project ChildSafe : http://www.projectchildsafe.org/
About Sarah Carling:
Sarah Carling can be found here on Ammoland and on her own blog at SimplyArmed.com. She is originally from the UK and is now an Ex-pat Brit who found her love of shooting later in life after moving to the US. Sarah is an avid firearms enthusiast and proficient in pistol shooting (especially the M1911 Platform).
She started using firearms in 2010 and soon fell in love with all aspects. Sarah has quickly become an advocate for the shooting sports encouraging women to learn and improve their firearms skills both through her work as an instructor and her position as a local leader for The Well Armed Women and as a certified NRA firearms instructor.