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How to teach kids firearm safety

POSTED: April 11, 2017 6:11 a.m.
Spencer Durrant/

If you plan on taking your children hunting or sport shooting or you want to buy your first gun but have children, then it's imperative to teach your kids some basic firearm safety tips.

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Whether you come from a long line of hunters or you're just looking at getting your first gun, safety is always a priority. For those with kids, however, safety is imperative to helping your children respect, understand and enjoy the responsible use of firearms.

Kids are naturally curious and if they come across firearms — either at home or elsewhere — serious problems can quickly arise if they don't know the basics of firearm safety. The same is true for children raised in an environment with frequent firearm usage.

With that in mind, here are some things to be aware of:

Every child should know firearm safety

Rob Parsons, a concealed carry permit instructor at You Can Carry, said, "Even if a household doesn't have firearms in it, children should be introduced to firearms and taught the importance of firearm safety."

Whether you own guns or not, your child may encounter them at some point and it is better if they are prepared and know how to stay safe.

Comprehensive gun safety

Most kids are taught that if they see a gun at home or elsewhere, to stop, not touch the gun, leave the area quickly and inform an adult about the firearm. While that may work for some children, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach to gun safety. Kids instead need comprehensive gun safety.

"Simply telling (kids) to leave an item alone will not work for all/most kids," Parsons said. "Ideally, they know and understand how to handle firearms safely, rather than just knowing to leave them alone."

Take your firearm safety training to a deeper level with your children. Don't stop at telling them to leave a gun alone; show them how a gun works, what they look like when loaded versus unloaded, and perhaps most importantly, show them what damage guns are capable of inflicting so they know to take safety seriously.

Take them shooting

Even if your family isn't a "gun family" or you only shoot on a sporadic, recreational basis, time on the range is one of the best ways to teach firearm safety.

"Allowing (kids) to handle and operate the guns while supervised will remove the natural curiosity and desire to disobey parents and handle guns without being supervised," Parsons said. "I make a conscious effort to shoot items other than paper, so they can see the impact directly."

Time at the gun range is a great way to spend time with your children, brush up on your own shooting skills and introduce your kids to the world of guns. When they can see the power of a gun up close — and handle one for themselves — they'll know how to safely and responsibly handle a gun in the future.

While not everyone loves firearms, understanding how to safely handle them is a skill worth having. The earlier in life someone learns to responsibly handle a firearm, the safer it is for them and those around them. Utah has a plethora of indoor ranges and gun instructors to help you teach your kids the basics of gun safety. For ranges and instructors in your area, you can look for these outdoor ranges or others in your community.

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