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Hot Topic – Guns

by Lori Sciame | March 27th, 2014 | Safety, Tweens

gun muralMy husband recently retired after serving as a police officer for 33 years.  His daily practice the minute he arrived home: unload the bullets from his gun, lock the gun and the bullets in separate holders, then place each on a separate (high) shelf in the closet.  Never once did he waver in this ritual.  Never once did he leave the gun hanging from his belt when at home, and he certainly never left it loaded on a table.

Unfortunately, many parents/guardians of tweens have chosen to do just that…leave a loaded gun within easy reach of family members.  Of course, doing so is a recipe for disaster.  Tweens are curious about the world, and no matter how much you warn a child to “never touch a gun,” they find it almost impossible to resist.

Recently, several national news programs have featured heartbreaking stories of tweens who have accidentally shot themselves, a sibling, or a friend.  In all of these cases, the parent/guardian feels distraught for having left a weapon within reach of a child.

Yet, there are those that claim that these tragedies happen infrequently, and that keeping their home safe is the main priority.  One young mother even claimed that her child didn’t know where she kept her loaded rifle.  Of course when the news crew quizzed the child, he knew exactly where the gun was supposedly hidden.

If a parent thinks back on his own childhood, he will remember that he knew a lot more than his parents thought he did.  For example, I knew where my mom hid the Christmas presents, where her stash of “calm down pills” were, and even where she placed emergency money.  One may think they are being tricky when “hiding” a gun: truth is, your child knows your secret.

Other adults on these shows stated they make an effort to educate children about gun safety.  They place loaded weapons in the hands of children as young as four at shooting ranges.  Meanwhile, they smile at how cute the little one looks as she blasts a round.

Seriously?  A child has no concept of the permanence of death.  If a parent tells them that they could die if they mishandle the gun, they do not have the capacity to understand the meaning behind that statement.  After all, video games have characters that are killed in various ways and the next time the game loads … they come back to life.

Thank goodness that most Americans live in relatively safe neighborhoods where home invasions are rare; however, if one still feels threatened, then why not invest in other deterrents, such as a home alarm system or the old standby … a dog.

I do understand that in some families owning firearms is a long-standing tradition.  I am all for keeping traditions alive.  Plus, guns and rifles can be stored safely when not in use.

But please, if you have young children, do not think that telling a child “don’t touch” is enough.  Lock up your guns.  Keep a child alive.

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