Special Parent Responsibilities
Parents already know that children are curious, and as such, can discover things that parents don't realize they can discover. Most parents remember when then had to childproof their home when their little ones first began crawling around. Nothing changed when the crawlers became toddlers, or kindergartners, or elementary school ages, or middle school aged, or even high school aged. Remember, children don't think like adults.
Parents need to know that children could find a gun when a responsible adult is not home, whether in your home or someone else's home. To avoid the possibility of an accident in such a situation, children should be taught to apply the following gun safety rules:
If they see a gun:
The above 4 rules are parts of a special accident prevention program known as the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program. It was developed by the NRA for young children (pre-kindergarten through third grade), and uses the friendly character of Eddie Eagle to teach the children to follow Eddies four rules.
There are many Police Departments and Shooting Organizations that can provide the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program to any group at no cost. Cub Scouts, Brownies, Day Cares, 4 H Clubs, & Elementary School Classes are all examples or groups that the program can be given for. There are materials that are given to each of the children for their use and for review by parents by Eddie Eagle ( Usually someone dresses up in a Big Eddie Eagle Costume similar to those of Elmo or Barney the Dinosaur.) Parents usually need only make the request of their local Police Department.
It's up to the parent to decide when or if their children should be exposed to firearms. There are many Sportsman Clubs or Pistol and Rifle Clubs that sponsor Junior Shooting Teams that compete on a nationwide basis. Kids as young as 9 years old participate on these teams. Even if your children don't participate in a shooting team, it might be better to have your children develop a respect for firearms than not to.
A Special Message to Parents from Mike
Iím writing this message to you not only as a Firearms Instructor, but also as a parent because of what I found during my role as an instructor.
I had the opportunity to instruct two (2) 16 years olds with the Home Firearm Safety Course the other weekend in Sharon, Massachusetts. The reason they took the course is because they were going to apply for their Firearms ID Card with their parentís permission. During the course, one of the young men mentioned that he had in his coat pocket an Air Soft Pistol that shot plastic pellets and bbís. He said his pistol looked just like the semi automatic pistol I used in the course teaching them how to unload semiautomatic pistols safely.
At my request, he retrieved it and gave it to me to look at. I was shocked. The replica was that of a Walther P99 with a moving slide and sights. It looked like the real thing with the exception of the red barrel that toy manufacturers now use to delineate the difference between real and toy guns. I couldnít believe it. It was as realistic a looking and feeling gun as Iíve ever seen.
The reason toy manufacturers now use red tips on toy gun barrels was because too many children were killed or injured when they refused to put down a toy gun if confronted by a Police Officer. Unfortunately, Police Officers couldnít distinguish between real or toy guns with split second accuracy. If they are in jeopardy, they need to neutralize the threat regardless of age.
This discovery of a realistic operating toy gun without having the same terminal results of firing a real bullet vs. a plastic pellet opened my eyes to a whole new series of potential problems with kids today, which is why Iím writing this. Iím hoping that you as parents will realize this and do something to keep your kids or someone elseís safe.
We teach safe rules for handling firearms to prevent accidents. However, if someone can take a realistic gun that fires plastic pellets and fire it at someone else in fun, that action totally contradicts what we teach and know about in real life. The problem is this: if someone is used to playing with the toy guns in an improper manner that donít terminally injure someone, will they be able to remove themselves from that memory or habit if they find a real gun that looks like their toy gun? Remember, the toy gun looks and feels like the real gun, but it doesnít shoot bullets.
What if a child finds a real gun on a playground, a street, an alley, or stored improperly in someone elseís home? Iíve taught my kids to respect the firearm and follow the Eddie Eagle Rules of Safety: Stop, Donít Touch, Leave the Area, and Tell and Adult. I know my kids are safe in my controlled environment, but I donít know about other environments. I need my kids to know how dangerous firearms are.
If you allow your kids to play with these realistic looking plastic pellet guns, I strongly recommend you have them take any type of Gun Safety Course to begin teaching them to handle firearms correctly. If not, how will you be able to prevent an accidental mishap? If it occurs, will you regret it? Many people think that this will never happen to my kids, but things happen. We all know it. As my Mom always told me, "Itís better to be safe than sorry."
Please take the time with your kids. Please invest in their safety and invest in their future. Prevent an accident from occurring. You wonít be sorry.
To find out more about the NRA Eddie Eagle Program, or to have your kids find out what they can do to stay safe, you can have them review some of the content on my For Kids Web Page. By the way, to find out which gun in the picture is the toy, click on the picture.
Thanks for your time.
If you have any questions, please contact us via email.
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