As part of the Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence campaign, we’re running a 7-part series on how seven prominent women in the firearms industry, hunting world and Second Amendment advocacy groups handle gun safety in their own homes.
In part 4, we talk to Jana Waller, Julie Golob, Stacy Washington, Natalie Foster, Shaneen Allen, Katie Pavlich and Nikki Goeser about teaching gun safety to children.
Why do you think teaching gun safety to children is so important? Do you feel there is a negative effect when children haven’t been taught?
WALLER: Teaching gun safety to children is critical and twofold. Children are inquisitive and very impressionable. On the safety side they need to know and respect firearms and learn what to do should they encounter one but also it’s critical that they learn that guns are not bad, but people are bad. We need to pass down our country’s firearms and hunting heritage so the future generations will fight to protect it.
GOLOB: As parents it’s our job to not only protect our children, but to educate them. I can’t say it enough. We teach our children about knives, scissors, electrical outlets and the stove. Why not guns? We cannot hide true firearm safety. As responsible parents, we need to be there to answer questions, address curiosity and be the resource our children can turn to and trust.
WASHINGTON: The primary reason to teach children about guns is because you can’t be with them at all times. If they know what to do they will know how to react if they encounter a firearm at a friends residence. There is a negative effect to not teaching kids: it makes guns a fascinating untouchable, which in turn makes guns more desirable. Once a child has been taught that a gun is a tool and how to handle it, the fascination is removed and they know how to be safe around them.
FOSTER: I’m a new mom so I think about this quite a bit. I plan to watch and discuss the Eddie Eagle video with my son as he grows up. When the time comes and if he shows the necessary self-control and discipline, I will introduce him to a BB gun and then a .22 rifle. We will move up from there after he has demonstrated proficiency with safety and training. I plan to read a little book on gun safety that I wrote for him, too. The theory is just as important as the practice. I believe that children need to be taught to respect, not fear firearms. And it is up to the parents to teach them proper safety, whether through a class or through individual lessons.
ALLEN: Since the vast majority of firearms-related accidents can be or could have been avoided through education, it stands to reason that the sooner we can educate our children on safe and responsible handling, the safer they will be in the long run.
PAVLICH: Teaching children about guns is no different than teaching them about staying away from the pool without an adult, away from the hot stove and not to drink bleach or other cleaning chemicals under the sink. Education is the number one way to prevent firearms negligence. Children are curious creatures and teaching them what they should and should not do is crucial in a number of household situations.
GOESER: I don’t have children. However, if I did, I would make sure any firearms in the house are out of reach to very young children but start teaching them safety at the same time. Once they reach an age I feel is appropriate to handle a firearm, I would make sure they are well trained and safety is always a priority. Children are naturally curious and I feel it is best to properly train them instead of being irresponsible and letting that curiosity linger. Parents know their children best and what their capabilities are, so I believe parents should be responsible in knowing what is appropriate for their own child. The NRA has a wonderful program called the Eddie Eagle Program which is a great tool in teaching children gun safety.