That’s What She said: Reluctant Participants

| December 9, 2015 | 1 Comments

This week I posted a question on my Facebook page from some non-firearm owning friends who are the parents of a pretty awesome two and a half year old. (What. So I’m biased)

” We’ve been meaning to ask you for advice on how to handle/ react when kids play guns. Our son has started playing cops and robbers at daycare.

It’s interesting because in this case, it’s not something we would have decided to teach him this young. It’s something he’s learned from his peers, at least one of which has an older brother. I don’t like it, but since it’s already occurred, I’d like to figure out how to teach him that real guns aren’t toys.”

There is some great content out there for gun owning parents, but what would you tell someone who does not, and will not be adding firearms to their household but who wants to teach their child to respect them as tools rather than toys.”

My followers on Facebook barely reach the triple digits, so the two responses I got were a welcome surprise.

The first was a link to a pretty good blog post called Boys with Sticks

I have to admit that reading it brought me waaaaay back to when my now 17 year old was just showing interest in gun play. He did not have toy guns at home or in his classroom, instead he used a pencil in pre-school to pretend shoot with the other kids. His teacher promptly warned me that if he were caught “engaging in violent play-style” again he’d be suspended. From pre-school.

The second comment didn’t directly address the problem our friends are having, but it does have merit.

Take the parents to the range and teach them properly first!

Why should parents who do not currently and do not plan to own firearms learn about shooting firearms?

Think about how most non-gun owners (and some owners, let’s be honest) get their information about firearms. Movies, T.V. and a media so willfully ignorant about firearms that the term “Bullet Button” now exists.

In order for parents to have a meaningful conversation with their kids about guns they should have basic working knowledge of :

  • the four rules of gun safety
  • how guns and ammunition work
  • how to correctly unload a gun

By having an understanding of these three concepts they can help their kids:

  • understand that guns are not toys and that there are rules for handling them
  • demystify the appeal that Hollywood and the media have given firearms
  • know what to do if they come in contact with a firearm

None of these concepts require parents to own or shoot a gun themselves. Honestly if more people were intellectually curious those news stories about kids finding guns might end differently, or even cease altogether.

Nothing makes a thing more appealing to children than forbidding it.

So don’t. Give them information and space to explore what they’re curious about. Using the boundaries of shooting sports like skeet or trap gives structure, supervision and purpose to shooting.

In the case of our friends and their two and a half year old, I suggested practicing safety fundamentals such as high register index and muzzle control on Nerf. Give him some safe targets to aim at , no people (yet) or dogs! At the very least he’ll have the most devastating aim in the neighborhood. At most? A healthy respect for a tool and where it’s use is appropriate.

Better yet, don’t take my word for it, check out this quote from former Ranger Captain Mathew Griffin from Combat Flip Flops. He even has his own TED talk if you feel like crying today.

“Kids do stupid stuff and accidents are likely to happen around kids doing stupid stuff,” explains Griff. “I took the time to teach my kids about firearm safety and how to make common types of gun safe.”

“Every time we handle weapons, I ask my kids the same question: ‘Sweetie, what does a gun do?’”

“The answer: ‘What I tell it to.’”

There are five rules of firearm safety, but only two matter if you’re not going to shoot one:

  1. Don’t point the gun at anything you don’t want to get shot.
  2. Don’t put your finger on the trigger.

“You can mess up either one of them,” says Griff. “But mess up on both and you just created the likelihood of a major accident.”

Better yet: don’t mess up either.

If you are wondering where to find all of the fundamentals listed in this post, Wes Siler made An Essential Guide To Gun Safety For People Who Hate Guns.

What advice would you give to my friends?

About the Author:

The She-Shepherd The She-Shepherd is a defensive firearms student, mother and advocate for pushing the boundaries of how we train. She believes that defensive training must balance context, mindset, and skill to be most effective. Her specialty has become testing alternative modes of firearms carry and best practices of less than lethal force options through rigorous force-on-force scenario based training.
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1 Comment on "That’s What She said: Reluctant Participants"

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  1. B R Kurtz B R Kurtz says:

    Sweet Mother of GOD or whatever exclamation doesnt offend (or does for that matter). The genii is out of the bottle. Kids see guns on TV they see guns at school they see cops with guns and bad guys with guns and hopefully get to go to other kids houses who have parents with guns.

    Every KID and ADULT should know about guns! That they should learn it from their parents goes without saying but we dont live in THAT World. So lets at least start with what end the bullet comes out then how to make the bullet come out what happens when the bullet comes out and how to make the bullet NOT come out.

    Teach them that there is a difference between REAL guns and Play guns just like Easter Eggs arent bunny found in the bottom of a rabbit cage. Also teach them that Play guns might be confused for REAL guns so knowing how to PLAY is IMPORTANT–its all about knowing the rules

    …and teach them that parents who dont like guns are bad people???

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