a Firearms Safety Instructor is Providing a Demonstration to a Family at a Gun Safety Class

A Guide to Gun Safety for Kids

If you’re a parent who owns a firearm, it’s your responsibility to focus on gun safety for kids when carrying, storing, or using your firearms. Guns are dangerous tools, and teaching gun safety to your children can help not only protect them but also their friends who may visit. In an increasingly dangerous world, their gun safety education may even give them the tools they need to make better decisions should they encounter firearms on the street, at friends’ houses, or anywhere else. Let’s take a look at how to approach this difficult but important topic, whether you’re familiarizing a small child with the first tenets of gun safety or preparing a teen for their exciting entry into youth shooting events.

Age-Based Safety Approach

a Father and Son Are at an Outdoor Shooting Range the Father is Giving the Son Instruction As He Aims a Shotgun

There is no one right way to approach gun safety for kids that fits every child. It’s up to you as the parent or educator to determine how much information and responsibility they can process as well as the situations they may encounter. While we’re going to talk about gun safety based on some very broad age groups, you may feel the child you’re teaching gun safety to needs more in-depth training or simpler guidance. If you need more visual resources, Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show is open to all ages with adult supervision and offers plenty of chances to have a conversation with your child in a safe environment.

Start Gun Safety for Kids Early

The best time to start talking to your kids about guns in the house is as soon as possible. Crawlers become walkers who toddle everywhere. If you’re a newer gun owner with older kids in the house, communication can be just as important, tailored to their greater capacity for understanding. That doesn’t mean you have to introduce your kids to youth shooting activities, but rather that every child should learn at least the basics necessary to help them make better decisions when they’re around a firearm.

Gun Safety for Toddlers and Younger Children

When you start gun safety for kids at an early age, you’re setting a foundation for a lifetime of responsible Second Amendment stewardship. At these ages, much like with the kitchen stove, much of teaching gun safety focuses on identifying dangers, not touching, and finding an adult.

  • Every Gun is Dangerous and Loaded – While they may not understand the power a firearm possesses, they can at least understand that it should set off immediate alarm bells. 
  • Don’t Touch – Children should never touch a gun without adult supervision. It should be ingrained in them at an early age that if they see a gun, it should be left alone, and they should vocally and loudly tell any siblings or friends to leave it alone.
  • Find an Adult – Whether they find an unattended firearm or see another child with a gun, they should come tell a responsible adult immediately. Even if they think it may be a toy, this gives you the chance to assess the situation and verify there’s no danger.

Teaching Strategies

  • Take the child with you to a local gun range so they can hear and see the real power of a firearm. YouTube videos often make the destructive force look cool and enticing, but tiny speakers and the filter of watching it on video don’t convey the fearsome noise and power as well.
  • Introduce a Toy Gun so they begin working toward future gun safety principles early. This toy can also be handy for our next technique.
  • Visit your local gun show for an educational outing. Introduce them to firearms you may not have access to at home as examples and conversation starters.
  • Role-play what they should do when finding or being around a gun under different circumstances. This can be an important learning tool that lets you identify and fine-tune any misunderstandings.

Gun Safety for School-Age Kids

School-age children are developing better reasoning abilities and more curiosity about the adults in their lives and their interests. That includes firearms, which they’re also being inundated with through popular culture. They may not be ready for any of the youth shooting divisions yet, but they may be ready to participate more fully in your range activities.

  • Never Handle a Firearm Without Adult Supervision – If they find an unattended gun, they need to leave it alone, but they’re old enough to help usher away other kids or send a sibling to get a parent while they make sure others don’t play with the weapon.
  • Begin to Familiarize Them with Firearms – Under heavy supervision, it’s perfectly appropriate to start talking to your children about the parts of a gun and how it works. This can include helping them take a few shots at the range, if appropriate.
  • Talk to Them About How to Discuss Firearms – Discuss with them the “family” nature of your firearms collection and activities. They shouldn’t see guns as a secret to be ashamed of, but it’s also not a topic to bring up constantly to others or make up embellished stories about.

Teaching Strategies

  • Set aside time to talk to them more about guns, their use, and their purpose. Gun cleaning can be a great time to go over parts and components while introducing the responsibilities of gun ownership.
  • If the range rules allow, let them explore shooting with you at the range by firing a few rounds from an appropriate-sized gun. If they continue to show responsibility and interest, this can also be an opportunity to talk to them about future youth shooting events.
  • Role-play conversations they may have with others, especially other kids who may be interested but haven’t had gun safety training for kids or with anti-gun adults who may look to cause trouble.

Gun Safety for Teenage Kids

Young Woman Wearing Protective Earwear is Aiming a Pistol at an Indoor Shooting Range As an Instructor Guides Her

Teens and young adults may seem mature, but they’ve yet to develop the decision-making ability or emotional control to be given unfettered access to firearms. While many kids receive “their” first gun at this age, make sure they understand their youth shooting activities are a privilege you control.

  • Create Safe Spaces When Guns are Involved – While they may know more about guns, they still shouldn’t touch an unattended firearm. They have no way of knowing if it’s safe or has been involved in a crime, and onlookers have no way of knowing if they have bad intentions.
  • Work with Them on Shooting Accuracy and Mechanics – Teach them proper stance, aiming, and trigger control. If they’re interested in competitive shooting, get in touch with local and national shooting sports organizations.
  • Reinforce the Responsibilities of Gun Use and Ownership – At this point, they’ve been watching Hollywood gunplay for a decade or more, and they’ve had a lot of bad role models. Be the good one they need.

Teaching Strategies

  • Consider Buying a “Starter” Gun – Many shooters started with a .22 lr long gun that let them get familiar with firearms without the recoil of a larger caliber. Gun safety for kids is still vital, even with this smaller caliber, so ensure they don’t treat their firearm as a toy.
  • Hold Them Accountable – By now, you’ve been teaching gun safety for years. It’s time to enforce it. Make sure they maintain the rules of gun safety and range etiquette, or they need to take a break from the responsibility of using their weapon.
  • Join Them at the Range –  It’s time to make them full range partners, shooting at adult target ranges and using the same range drills and routines you are. 

What You Can Do Anytime to Promote Gun Safety for Kids

  • Store Your Weapon Appropriately – Gun storage should be sufficient to protect your investment and limit unsupervised access. Ensure that your children can’t access your firearms, and when they reach the point of having their own weapon, it needs to be stored with yours when not in use.
  • Have the Tough Talks – Don’t shy away from firearms topics with your kids. Talk to them about the good, the bad, and the ugly. That means being frank and open to talking about Olympic events, school shootings, hunting accidents, and gun customization. It’s a tall order but vital to teaching gun safety thoroughly.
  • Be Their Parent, Not Their Friend – Range partner does not mean buddy. You’re the parent, you’re in charge, and that includes when and how they have access to firearms. 

Get Guns, Supplies, and Accessories at Your Next Gun Show

Whether you need effective storage solutions, cleaning equipment, or it’s time to find a first gun for a future youth shooting champion, you’ll find it at a gun show near you. With vendors from across the country, professional paid security on-site, and a comfortable event hall, it’s the perfect family-friendly environment for teaching gun safety to kids. Subscribe to our newsletter to get gun show news delivered to your inbox. Order your tickets online to the next Eagle Shows Gun Show today.

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