I do not want to make today’s blog political in anyway. What I will be discussing can be a sensitive issue. Every individual has their own set of morals and ethics which tend to influence their beliefs.
I took my son to the local indoor shooting range the other day. He was slightly vertically challenged; although, he shot very well. Last Christmas Santa brought him a single shot 22cal. rifle called the cricket. It is designed for a young child with a length of only about 20 inches or so. It holds one round at a time, so it is perfect for teaching gun safety and accuracy.
Now I know that many parents may question the reasoning behind letting an 8 year old shoot a gun, let alone own his very own. I normally keep this discussion very private in the circle of my family, but for today’s purposes I will share some of my reasoning with you.
First off I firmly believe in a father taking his son out hunting and showing him the secrets of nature and of the hunt. Many children’s best memories are going out on the long hikes with purpose. There is also a great feeling of pride and accomplishment when the child gets the animal and can take credit for contributing to putting food on the table of his/her family. The accomplishment shows him/her that he/she is a contributing member of the family and has value despite how small he/she may physically be. Not only does it show the child that he/she has value, but that everything has purpose and value. This makes it easy to teach respect for life, nature, and property. In my experience law abiding hunters are the ultimate conservationist. The hunt teaches patience, and self discipline. Secondly I spent time in the military, and before that I grew up in a Western Pennsylvania town. The culture there is guns, hunting, and football, not necessarily in that order. When my son goes over to a friends house, and that friends father has guns, and does something irresponsible like leaves them out; I don’t have to worry about my son picking one up, and I can count on him to either stop his friend from picking one up, or getting out of there if his friend does. My son looks at them as a chore not a novelty like a curious child who has never seen one except being wielded in the movies by his favorite hero. Kids tend to mimic their heroes. My son knows that anytime we go to the range and shoot, or anytime we open up the gun cabinet, we have to break down all the rifles and clean them, (he hates cleaning). Let me be clear, I am not any kind of lobbyist, and if you did not grow up around guns, I DO NOT recommend going out and buying a rifle and teaching gun safety to your child. What I might suggest is taking your child to a gun range, perhaps one that your local law enforcement uses and let them hear the noise, and see the damage the guns can do. Let them develop a little respect and fear in that experience. If you’re comfortable ask an officer to break one down for him/her and show them how it works. Educate him/her about it so that the curiosity is satisfied in the safety of your presence.
Guns are more abundant in this country than cars, and just as dangerous, but they do exist, so the one thing you can be sure of is that your child will one day have an experience with a gun. Its one of the things I can guarantee. I recommend making that experience a controlled and educational one.