The Parents' Responsibility
In a home where guns are kept, the degree of safety a child has rests squarely on the child's parents.
who accept the responsibility to learn, practice and teach gun safety
rules will ensure their child's safety to a much greater extent than
those who do not. Parental responsibility does not end, however, when
the child leaves the home.
to federal statistics, there are guns in approximately half of all U.S.
households. Even if no one in your family owns a gun, chances are that
someone you know does. Your child could come in contact with a gun at a
neighbor's house, when playing with friends, or under other
circumstances outside your home.
is critical for your child to know what to do if he or she encounters a
firearm anywhere, and it is the parents' responsibility to provide that
Talking With Your Child About Gun Safety
is no particular age to talk with your child about gun safety. A good
time to introduce the subject is the first time he or she shows an
interest in firearms, even toy pistols or rifles. Talking openly and
honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective
than just ordering him or her to "Stay out of the gun closet," and
leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a child's
natural curiosity to investigate further.
with any safety lesson, explaining the rules and answering a child's
questions help remove the mystery surrounding guns. Any rules set for
your own child should also apply to friends who visit the home. This
will help keep your child from being pressured into showing a gun to a
Toy Guns vs. Real Guns
is also advisable, particularly with very young children, to discuss
gun use on television as opposed to gun use in real life. Firearms are
often handled carelessly in movies and on TV. Additionally, children
see TV and movie characters shot and "killed" with well-documented
frequency. When a young child sees that same actor appear in another
movie or TV show, confusion between entertainment and real life may
result. It may be a mistake to assume that your child knows the
difference between being "killed" on TV and in reality.
your child has toy guns, you may want to use them to demonstrate safe
gun handling and to explain how they differ from genuine firearms. Even
though an unsupervised child should not have access to a gun, there
should be no chance that he or she could mistake a real gun for a toy.
What Should You Teach Your Child About Gun Safety?
you have decided that your child is not ready to be trained in a gun's
handling and use, teach him or her to follow the instructions of NRA's
Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program. If you find a gun:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
The initial steps of "Stop" and "Don't Touch"
are the most important. To counter the natural impulse to touch a gun,
it is imperative that you impress these steps of the safety message
upon your child.
In today's society, where adult supervision is not always possible, the direction to "Leave the Area"
is also essential. Under some circumstances, area may be understood to
be a room if your child cannot physically leave the apartment or house.
"Tell an Adult"
emphasizes that children should seek a trustworthy adult, neighbor,
relative or teacher -- if a parent or guardian is not available.
NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program includes an instructor guide,
activity books, poster, and an animated video to explain its four-step
safety message. For more information about the program, visit www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie or call (800) 231-0752.
Basic Gun Safety Rules
the NRA has complete gun safety rules available for specific types of
firearm use (hunting and competition, for example), the following three
rules are fundamental in any situation. Whether or not you own a gun,
it is important to know these rules so that you may insist that others
Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Whether you are shooting or simply handling a gun, never point it at yourself or others. Common sense will tell you which direction is the safest. Outdoors,
it is generally safe to point the gun toward the ground, or, if you are
at a shooting range, toward the target. Indoors, be mindful of the fact
that a bullet can penetrate ceilings, floors, walls, windows, and
Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When holding a gun, rest your trigger finger outside the trigger guard
alongside the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch
Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. If you
do not know how to check to see if a gun is unloaded, leave it alone.
Carefully secure it, being certain to point it safely and to keep your
finger off the trigger, and seek competent assistance.
Information provided courtesy of the National Rifle Association, The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program. For more information, go to http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/