GUNS and KIDS:
Too Dangerous To Ignore
by Alan Korwin
Another kid was accidentally shot dead 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
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
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
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
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
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 which bolt to the floor (presumably near your
bed), and have push button combinations which can be operated quickly in
the dark. Certain types of handguns can be modified so that only an authorized
person can operate it. These may be of use in homes with youngsters where
a defensive firearm is kept 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, $5.95. The tough decisions
of a former activist in the anti-gun 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, $5.00. 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, $9.95. 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.
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
- 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" which 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 seven 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 to non-profit organizations, provided credit is given to Alan
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