Memphis kids get the real gun safety lesson they need thanks to retired sheriff's captain

One of the things that drives me crazy about the gun control lobby’s attempt to appropriate the term “gun safety” is that they don’t preach anything of the sort. To them, gun safety means “don’t own a gun”, not “here’s how to be safe and responsible with a deadly weapon.”

For kids, of course, the message isn’t just about how to safely handle a firearm, but why it’s important not to touch one unless you’re being supervised by an adult. Part of that means teaching kids about the power of a gun, and this past weekend 25 kids from across the Memphis area got an invaluable lesson in gun safety and responsibility courtesy of retired Shelby County Sheriff’s Capt. Bennie Cobb.

“It’s been said if you can save one, my goal is to save every one of them,” Cobb said. “We don’t see another child in an accident where they are accidentally shot.”

It is an outcome 15-year-old Tyler Blaine knows all too well and is one of the reasons why he signed up for the course.

“I lost cousins to guns and friends,” Blaine said. “So I feel like that people shouldn’t take guns as a joke.”

Last year, nearly 28% of all children treated for gunshot wounds at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital were from accidental shootings.

Over the course of three hours, all of the kids learned about the dangers of guns and how to properly use them. It is a lesson that their instructors, including Barbara Farmer-Tolbert, believe should be taught when they are young.

“It is very important to get them comfortable with guns at a young age,” Farmer-Tolbert said. “So like I said, that curiosity is not there of what happens if I pick up a gun or what happens if I squeeze a trigger.”

I too think that kids are much less likely to treat a gun like it’s a toy if they’ve seen its power firsthand. Not only does it help to dispel the attraction of the taboo, lessons like the one provided by Cobb and volunteers like Farmer-Tolbert demonstrate directly why playing around with a gun is never a good idea by giving kids firsthand experience in what happens when they pull the trigger.

This is real gun safety, not the same stale anti-gun restrictions that have been rebranded with that label because focus groups dislike “gun control” and its connotations. There’s nothing stopping supposed “gun safety” groups like Moms Demand Action or Everytown for Gun Safety from holding events like these, but despite the fact that we hear all the time from “gun safety advocates” who claim to be gun owners themselves, I’ve never seen or heard one of them get behind actual gun safety training like the events put on by Cobb on a regular basis.

We need to see a lot more of this, quite frankly, and I’d start with kids as young as six and seven. We also need to talk to parents about ensuring that their young kids don’t have access to a firearm, of course, but there’s no reason why we can’t do both. For gun control activists, the “solution” is to simply not own a gun, or at least impose mandatory storage laws that punish parents after the fact if a kid gets ahold of a gun and accidentally shoots themselves or someone else. A better and more proactive approach would be to teach kids how to be safe and responsible around firearms. Education, not ignorance, is the key, and no group that’s truly dedicated to “gun safety” would want to keep kids in the dark instead of offering them life-saving instruction.