If you have children, chances are high they’ll be around guns at some point. Approximately one-third of households with children under the age of 18 own guns, including 34 percent of households with children under age 12. Gun purchases are at an all-time high, FBI firearm background check data shows and the average gun owner now owns eight guns, ATF and survey data indicate. Whether you have a gun in your house or not, your children have friends who have guns in their homes, and there’s always a chance of your child or their friends finding a gun when an adult isn’t around. If you’re a parent, it’s important to teach your child about gun safety for their well-being and your peace of mind.
Teach Yourself First
You can help your child learn gun safety better if you know basic safety rules yourself. Even if you already know gun safety, taking a refresher course can be a good idea to reinforce what you know and give you ideas for teaching your child. If you plan to own a gun or get your child one for hunting, learn with the type of weapon you intend to buy. Try browsing a selection of used rifles, pistols and shotguns online if you’re looking to save money. To find a qualified gun instructor in your area, see the National Rifle Association’s online directory of instructors.
Lock Guns in a Safe Place
If you have guns stored in your house, the best way to keep them away from children is to store them in a safe, locked location. You can use a locked cabinet, a gun vault or a gun storage case. Make sure your child does not have access to the storage location or the key. Ideally, if they don’t know where the storage location is, the chances of them getting into trouble are much lower.
Keep Ammunition Stored Separately
The surest way to keep a gun safe is to keep it unloaded. Accordingly, one of the basic rules of gun safety is to never load a gun until you’re ready to use it. Following this principle, always store guns unloaded. To make sure the gun stays unloaded, store ammunition in a separate, locked location.
Use Gun Locks for Added Safety
In addition to locking away guns and ammunition, you can also lock the gun itself using a special gun lock. Placing a gun lock on a weapon renders it incapable of firing. You can even break a gun down into parts and store the parts separately.
Always Assume Guns Are Loaded
Another basic safety rule is to always assume a gun is loaded. You never know who was handling a gun before you or what they did, so you shouldn’t assume it’s empty. Don’t assume a gun is unloaded just because someone else tells you it is. Even if you’ve fired a gun and it hasn’t gone off, it may have misfired and there may still be ammunition in the magazine. Always double-check that a gun is truly unloaded before putting it away for storage, and check again when removing it from storage. Teach your child to always assume a gun is loaded as well.
Teach Your Child to Stay Away from Guns They Find
Because guns may always be loaded, it’s important to teach your child to stay away from guns they may find at a friend’s house or in the street. Teach them, as well as their friends, to leave the gun alone. If they come across a firearm seemingly without an owner, they should get an adult to handle it. This also applies to guns that could potentially be toys or replicas. Toy guns have become incredibly realistic, so highlight the importance of “it’s better to be safe than sorry” with your child.