Advice Column Illustrates Bad Thinking on Firearm Safety

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Gun safety is a loaded term in this day and age.

If someone like Cam, John, or myself use it, we mean actually being safe with your firearms. If someone like Shannon Watts or Kris Brown use it, they mean it as a euphemism for gun control.


But actual gun safety is important. Firearms are dangerous if misused, so it's imperative we take the right precautions to make sure it's not misused.

The problem arises when people start telling others what those right precautions are without any regard for why someone has a firearm in the first place.

After all, things that aren't an issue for your hunting rifles might be a problem with other firearms.

This came up after I stumbled across an advice column that talks about guns.

Called Ask Dr. Bob, it starts with a parent concerned about gun safety. She and her husband have firearms and children, so she's worried that they're not doing enough to keep her kids safe.

Dr. Bob starts off by repeating the long-debunked claim that guns are the number one killer of children--they aren't--but then he offers some good advice.

There are multiple things that parents can do to protect their children:

• Start firearm safety at an early age. Just like you don’t want your child to touch a hot stove or put their fingers into a wall socket, they should not touch a firearm until proper safety measures and supervision is in place.

• Instruct your children about the lethal consequences of guns. We don’t want our children to run into the street or run in a parking lot. We instruct them about the hazard of cars. Likewise, they need a proper warning about the lethal nature of guns.

• Enroll your children in firearm safety and firearm use classes if they will be using guns in the future for recreational shooting or hunting.

• Firearms should be stowed in a locked cabinet with key access only known to the parents.


I don't disagree with any of these. I'd argue that they should be locked up when not in use versus just a general statement, but one could also argue that you don't "stow" something that's in use, so that would really just be a quibble.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take long to go off the rails.

• Firearms should not be loaded, even when stored in a cabinet. Unauthorized access (like from a teen) could lead to disastrous results.

• The ammunition for firearms should be locked in a separate place.

• A handgun should have a separate gun lock. These are now available in multiple places and often for free. Check with your pediatrician.

So we're looking at a handgun being double locked, unloaded, with ammunition stores in a completely different place.

Look, I get the argument. If you're just worried about the wrong hands getting a gun, that's fine, but why do most people buy handguns in the first place? They get them for self-defense.

A firearm that's double locked and unloaded with the ammunition elsewhere is a gun that is useless for self-defense. You simply cannot get to it quickly enough if you need it, and if you got it to help you protect those children, well, you're just wasting time and money.

See, the problem is that this advice is popular in anti-gun circles, but it was crafted by people who don't understand guns, don't believe in having guns, and don't believe in using a firearm for self-defense.


Dr. Bob here is repeating it because it's predicated on what his profession is concerned about--no one getting shot. Ever. Apparently, that includes vicious, murderous home invaders.

Gun safety is important, but so is being able to protect yourself.

However, the good doctor wasn't done with actually good advice. He finished his list with advice to be aware of your kids' mental health. He argued that it might not seem gun-related, but that it's a good idea to know if your kids are struggling and to get them help if they are. I happen to agree completely.

I just wish he'd left all that nonsense in the middle out.

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