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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Some parents, like my parents, do not believe in having guns in the home at all. As such, I never learned about gun safety until I married someone who occasionally likes to hunt. Whether or not you decide to let your children hunt, I’ve come to the conclusion now that everyone should know how to be safe around guns, especially children. You just don’t know what they’ll encounter while you aren’t around. In this sense, it’s better for children to be informed than be ignorant, even if they aren’t usually exposed to guns. Here are a few tips based on my experience with my own children:

  • It’s never too early to talk to children about the difference between real and toy guns.

Many accidents occur with guns and children when children don’t understand the difference between reality and fiction. It’s important to talk to your children early about how what they see on TV and the toys they play with are not real.

  • Emphasize the importance of always pointing a gun, even if not loaded, in a safe direction.

I would say that, especially with young children, this rule applies even to toy guns. This way, children who are too young to use real guns will learn and practice early this cardinal rule of gun safety. Any time your child holds a gun, it should never point anywhere near a person, and it should not point to an object or animal that the gun holder does not intend to shoot. This should be emphasized time and time again.

  • Instruct your child to never have their fingers on a trigger until they are ready to shoot.

So many accidents can be prevented by following this simple measure. Show your children that guns can be very sensitive pieces of machinery. All it takes is the accidental click of the trigger for something bad to happen. As such, instruct your child to be aware of his or her hands whenever she is around a gun. Not until your child is absolutely ready to use the gun should their hands or fingers be anywhere near the trigger.

  • If they have not yet learned how to use a gun, and they see one that is not yours, instruct your children to leave the area and tell an adult.

Before your child even touches a gun or comes into contact with one, you should teach them to be aware of guns and their presence. If the gun does not belong to you or someone in your family or friends circle, isn’t under your immediate supervision, and your child happens to encounter a gun, be sure that he or she knows to not touch the gun. Tell your child to immediately leave the area and to notify you, your spouse, or another trusted adult.

Of course, this isn’t all to say that you shouldn’t stick to your convictions, whether you believe children should be exposed to guns or not. However, just like with drugs and alcohol, it’s important to have that conversation. The more we talk to our kids, the more informed and responsible they’ll become.

Patricia Garza is a freelance blogger who devotes her passions to writing about parenting and education. While she primarily focuses on issues relating to getting your kids through college, she also writes about educational technology, like what’s offered through many nationally accredited online colleges. Patricia welcomes your comments below!

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to be safe around guns.

Image courtesy of Caveman Chuck Coker via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.