“I’m a Gun Owner, and This Is What I’m Teaching My Kids to Do When They See a Gun” originally appeared on Quora and The Fatherly Forum, and was reprinted with permission.
My wife and I have done the best we can with raising our two children. We have taught them how to blow their respective noses, brush their teeth, clean their rooms, and thank the Lord for the days they have. My son is becoming quite the little gentleman, as he uses all of his tiny muscles to hold massive doors for ladies. My daughter understands the importance of writing “thank you” cards to those who give her gifts. My wife and I are making every effort to raise children who will one day be productive members of our society.
We have also taught our children about guns.
Am I taking my children out to the shooting range? No, absolutely not (not yet, anyway). For now, I have taught them what a gun is, what it looks like, what it is for, and the very real danger that it can become if it is not respected.
By the time my daughter was 3, I could ask her, “Honey, what do you do when you see a gun?” to which she would immediately respond, “Stop. Don’t touch. Tell an adult, ‘Excuse me, I see a gun.’” My children have never touched a gun in their lives, and they will not touch one until I give them permission to do so. You can take that to the bank.
Do I secure my firearms? Of course, I am a responsible gun owner. Education is not a reason for ignoring preventative measures. You learn how to drive a car, but that doesn’t give you justification for committing reckless driving.
We, as a society, can go around and around about how to address gun violence in the United States. Some people, some legislators, believe that the effective answer is stricter gun laws and regulations. There are those who even believe that there should be a complete confiscation of all firearms. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who believe that “an armed society is a polite society,” and everyone should have the right to carry a firearm on their person at any time, in any place. One of my closest friends actually once told me, “I believe that if a person wants to own a howitzer and keep it in their backyard, they should have the right to do so.”
Obviously, most of us operate somewhere in between these extremes.
Whatever your opinion is on guns, I respect it. I really do. Further, I understand your arguments. It makes logical sense that by destroying every firearm on Earth, that we as a society will not have gun violence. I also understand that it makes logical sense to assume a person will likely not start a firefight if they are surrounded by a community of people carrying their own guns.
But here is the truth.
We will never, ever rid the world of guns. It will not happen. Tens of millions of people support the right to bear arms. Hundreds of millions of guns exist. Some of the strongest political lobbying firms in the country defend this constitutional right. Additionally, we will never, ever arm our country in such a way as to allow everyone the right to carry a firearm for protection. That, too, will never, ever happen.
What can the average American do to stop gun violence in the United States? Educate your children on the responsibilities of owning, operating, and understanding the use of firearms. Trust me, they’re getting an education already. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the list of movies coming out this summer, or the most popular video games on the market. Unfortunately, they’re getting the wrong message from these “educators.” Our children are being taught that guns are “cool,” and that all the “good guys” have one.
Remember the Nancy Reagan anti-drug campaign, “Just Say No?” How about teaching our kids, “Just Don’t Touch?” What a thought … The anti-drug campaign worked pretty well, maybe we can do it again with guns.
What I am getting at is this: the only way that gun violence is going to decrease is through cultural education. Again, the only education that our children are receiving right now is from that television in your living room … I know that you, the parent, can teach them a better way.
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