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A Guide to Responsible Gun Ownership for Parents

by Editorial Team | February 17th, 2016 | Elementary, Safety

gunMarksmanship is a hallmark of the U.S. Marine Corps, a military service that considers every Marine a rifleman first and foremost. They have the longest and most rigorous boot camp; they have the most challenging rifle qualification standards. Recruits who don’t meet the minimum rifle standards do not graduate from boot camp. While handling a gun is a big responsibility, being a gun-owning parent is an even bigger responsibility. Parents who own guns should emulate the weapon standards of the U.S. Marine Corps to make sure their children are safe and knowledgeable about weapons. Here are a few things a gun-owning parent can learn from the U.S. Marines.

Teach the Safety Rules

Way before any Marine fires his or her first round down range, he or she learns the basic safety rules. It’s one of the most important pieces of knowledge taught at boot camp. Recruits must be able to recite the rules verbatim and, more importantly, follow the rules while handling a weapon. Before you let your children handle a weapon, they need to learn the following safety rules:

Assume all weapons are loaded and treat them as such.

Even if you think you are 100 percent certain that a weapon has been properly cleared and is unloaded, still treat that weapon as if it is loaded and ready to go.

Be aware of where you point your weapon.

Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend on shooting. Too many people neglect this safety rule and inadvertently point their weapons at other people or at themselves. Let your child practice using a broomstick or something similar. Show them how to keep the muzzle away from their bodies and facing down range at all times.

Don’t touch the trigger until you are ready to fire.

Look at any photo of a U.S. Marine holding a weapon. Unless they are actively engaging a target, their finger is straight and off the trigger. This prevents negligent discharges, which can happen if you are in the habit of using the trigger as a finger pillow.

Secure Your Weapons

No matter how much you train your kids or how much you think they know about weapons, they are still kids. Parents must keep weapons secure. At home, all weapons should be stored in a gun safe and/or have a trigger lock. While you are practicing it is best to either holster your pistol or to attach a comfortable sling to your rifle. This will make sure the weapon is close to you at all times, which is important for safety reasons.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Weapon handling is a perishable skill. You must be proactive in order to remain proficient. And you need to be proficient in order to teach your kids the correct ways to fire and handle a weapon. U.S. Marines spend an entire week practicing without rounds before they qualify on the range. It’s called “snapping in,” and its purpose is to give the Marines an opportunity to work on the fundamentals of marksmanship before they fire. Kids should “snap in” way before they load the first round in their weapon. It will familiarize them with the weapon and help to make a better shooting experience when you get to the range.

Brought to you by our friends at Marines Magazine.

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