April 02, 2012
By James Tarr
Whenever people start talking about kids and gun safety, the emphasis usually is on little kids, toddlers and grade schoolers.
The NRA's Eddie Eagle program is great at educating young children about firearms, what to do and not to do, and I watched the videos with my children repeatedly. I can still recite the slogan—Stop, Don't Touch, Leave the Area, Tell an Adult. However, as the father of two boys, one of whom just turned fourteen this week, I realize that "teenagers and guns" is an entirely separate topic.
By the time your children get to be teenagers the basic rules of gun safety should have been drilled into them. Whether they can get to a loaded gun in your house or not, your teenagers should not just know the four basic rules of gun safety but also what to do if there is an intruder. As your children turn into young adults the "what to do in case of€¦" scenarios become increasingly important, because this is the age when you start leaving them at home. Alone. That's just not something you have to worry about when your kids are five or six.
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God forbid my boys ever have to shoot an intruder, but they have the skills to do it if they need to. I taught them both to drive as soon as they were big enough to reach the controls on the car, because it is a good emergency skill to have—just like shooting. If you own guns and have a teenage daughter and haven't taught her how to shoot (at a minimum) you are doing her a serious disservice. Sexual assault is much more common than murder.
I completely trust my boys when it comes to the firearms I have in my home. What I have to consider now, however, is them having friends come over to the house to watch TV, do homework, play video games, etc., when I'm not there. Teenagers get into things without even trying, especially when the adults are away, and if you've got unsecured guns in the house (loaded or not), maybe it's not your kids you need to be worrying about.
Your children may only hang around with honor-roll students, but if Bobby mentions to Billy who mentions to Darryl that so-and-so's dad has a couple guns in the house, pretty soon teenagers who have never met you know about your Glock in the bedside table. High school is the time when the Future Felons of America start learning their job skills. Your kids know you have guns, but maybe they shouldn't be letting that information be public knowledge. I'm not ashamed of being a gun owner, but I don't let my children broadcast that information, simply because I don't want to have to deal with aspiring teenage B&E artists.
I'm not sure there is any one right way to handle this, but if you never think about the possibilities, any surprises you get are sure to be unpleasant.