GUNS and KIDS:

Too Dangerous To Ignore

by Alan Korwin


Another kid was accidentally shot by a friend today. The media held up the tragic event for display. Unemotional newscasters relayed the lurid details, then cut to a separate story about some gun legislation or other.

No matter how many gun laws are proposed or passed in the next decade, your kids are at risk today. The school system steadfastly refuses to teach even the most rudimentary safety measures, prompting some to say that they share blame with... who? The playmate? The parents? The gun maker? The gun itself?

Maybe there is no gun in your house and never will be because you hate guns. The fact remains that one out of two American homes has a gun. That means that 50% of the homes your child visits contains this instantly lethal weapon. Chances are the neighbors on both sides of your home have a firearm.

You can chose to ignore it, and let blind chance control your child's fate, or you can act right now, educate yourself and your children about gun safety, and give them a fighting chance.

It's a little like sex education. How many parents really want to face the issues of childhood pregnancy, herpes, AIDS and condoms at the incredibly early ages they must these days. Five-year-olds are asking parents what sex is. These same innocents could operate a gun if they stumbled upon one. It is an urgent issue.

If you stick your head in the sand, you're not giving your offspring the tools they need to survive. Is that the course for responsible parenting? You may wish that guns (and sexuality!) would just go away -- but they won't. Half the kids today idolize rock bands like Guns and Roses. Go figure it out.

Crime rates are too high. American homes are being attacked by the growing cadre of psychotic sleaze out there. Some homes are defended by armed and ready citizens. Others are defenseless and play the odds. Whatever your choice in this terribly controversial issue, at least play it safe with your kids.

There is no overwhelming consensus as to what exactly constitutes perfect gun safety for children, although the rules for adult safe handling of firearms are fairly well established (see below). Keeping a defensive weapon handy -- which means loaded and readily accessible -- provides opportunities for disaster in the hands of the untrained, naive or irresponsible.

The enormous prevalence of guns on TV makes the problem worse, because nothing about TV guns reflects reality, and it usually encourages an attitude that guns are fun, desirable playthings that only hurt bad guys.

On TV, people shoot guns and then talk. In reality, guns are so loud that after a single shot you can hardly hear anything for a while. On TV someone gets shot and then continues to play a role. In reality, if you even stub your toe you stop. On TV, bullets stay put. In reality even small bullets travel over a mile. Gun fights on the tube take forever. In reality it's typically over in about two seconds. Clearly, you need better information than what you get from your TV.

What To Do

The most important thing is to get some training for yourself. Could you handle a car safely without lessons? Did you learn about childbirth before having your first? Sign up for a class (see the list below) and put yourself in a position of control on this crucial subject.

Get some good books on the subject and read them. Knowledge is power, and you need it in this life or death matter. Valuable references are included at the end of this article.

Many families that keep guns at home try hiding them for safety. Sometimes, for good measure, they forbid touching them. These are noble gestures, but they are flawed. You won't hide a gun so well that it's not available when you need it in an emergency, and anything in your house that can be found will be found by an ambitious youngster with sufficient time. The time frame here is, literally, years.

Think about it. Your folks hid their condoms, matches, money, whatever -- did that stop you? Fireworks were forbidden to you. Did you never see a firecracker? The idea of hiding or forbidding is not enough. It may even be counterproductive. Forbidden fruit is a greater temptation.

A few devices are available which may be of some use. Several companies are producing lock boxes that bolt to the floor (presumably near your bed), and have push button combinations that can be operated quickly in the dark. These may be of use in homes with youngsters where a defensive firearm is kept available. All sorts of gun locks are readily available.

They're of no use, however, when your kid goes to play across the street with the neighbor's kid. The forbidden fruit approach may only make matters worse. What's a parent to do?

One of the nation's leading experts in this field suggests empowerment.

In his exceptional book, Gun-Proof Your Children!, Masaad Ayoob suggests that it's essentially impossible to gunproof guns. They are designed, he notes, to be operated by an idiot under duress, and so any reasonably bright preschooler could get one to fire. His approach is to take away the mystique and substitute education and parentally controlled training. He makes a lot of sense. Do read his book.

Guns aren't about to go away, and the threat they pose is real, constant and immediate. Don't wait another moment to bring yourself up to speed. Take a class, read some books, and learn what you need to know. Your kids are too precious to sacrifice up to the evening news.

BOOKS FOR CONCERNED PARENTS

Armed and Female, by Paxton Quigley, $19.95. The tough decisions of a former activist in the anti-gun-rights movement, who chose the victor-over-victim psychology. Lessons she learned through extensive study, research and personal experience. Compelling reading, packed with thought-provoking ideas and advice.

Gun-Proof Your Children, by Masaad Ayoob, $4.95. One of the world's leading experts in issues related to lethal force, this father of two shares his thoughts on gun safety for kids in a classic short booklet. Includes a primer on handguns for the novice.

In The Gravest Extreme, by Masaad Ayoob, $12.95. Widely recognized as the definitive work on the use of deadly force. This former law enforcement officer describes what you actually face in a lethal confrontation, the criminal mind-set, gun-fighting tactics, the judicial system's view on self-defense cases and more. A must for any armed household.

Your First Gun, by Alan Korwin, $9.95. An easy Q&A guide to the cultural and social issues surrounding firearms, introduces you to the questions people ask first about the world of guns, this page will help you come up to speed before you even buy anything.

The Cornered Cat, by Kathy Jackson, $19.95. By a woman for women, more advanced information and comprehensive, if you want to know more right away. Kathy is the former editor of Concealed Carry magazine and understand firearms, writes in a clear and compelling style. Lots of books for women on this page.

 

BASIC GUN SAFETY RULES

There are many things to know in order to handle a gun safely, and a list of rules is no substitute for training. Here are some of the basic points to consider.

1 - Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
2 - Always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.
3 - Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.
4 - Don't touch the trigger until you're ready to fire.
5 - Be certain of your target and what is beyond it before pulling the trigger.
6 - Accidents don't happen, they are caused, and it's up to you and you alone to prevent them in all cases. Every "accident" that ever happened could have been avoided. Where there are firearms there is a need for caution.
7 - Always think first and shoot second.


Alan Korwin is a full-time free-lance writer and author of ten books on gun law, including Gun Laws of America: Every Federal Gun Law on the Books, with Plain English Summaries. Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided credit is given to Alan Korwin, Bloomfield Press, Scottsdale, AZ.

Alan Korwin
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