A national study indicates that more than 53 percent of all households
in the United States possess some type of firearm.
More than 75 percent of households in Louisiana contain firearms. This
means that three out of four of one's neighbor's
probably possess a firearm. Firearm purchases for sporting purposes and
self-defense are up sharply. Citizens are concerned
about the increase in violent crimes and the increase in drug use. There
is an 83 percent chance that if you are home when
burglarized you will be injured.
Children and Gun Safety
There is no one correct age at which parents should talk with their
children about guns. The parent should be the judge of
that. A good time, however, is when the child starts acting out gunplay
or starts asking questions about firearms. The parents should answer
the questions honestly and openly. Once the mystery surrounding guns is
gone, potential incidents can be avoided.
Because of the popularity of firearms, children are likely to encounter
guns in their lives. Many do so without parental
supervision. Even if you do not own a gun, a child could come in contact
with a gun at a neighbor's house or when playing
with friends. Children need to know what to do when exposed to firearms.
Unfortunately, they develop wrong ideas and
impressions about firearms from what they view on television. Much of
gun use on television is inaccurate and deceptive.
On television, firearms are handled with little safety in mind. Children
often see movie stars that seem invulnerable to bullets.
The viewing public never sees the tremendous damage a bullet can
inflict. One shot can kill. Children need to understand the difference
between pretend and real life.
Firearms come in all sizes and shapes. Words like "gun", "rifle",
"machine gun", "shotgun" and "pistol" create various images
among children. Children are curious about firearms and will naturally
seek them out. They need to understand that a little
gun is just as dangerous as a big gun. They also need to understand the
difference between a toy gun such as a cap gun or squirt gun, and a real
gun such as a pistol or shotgun.
Children should never handle firearms unless parents say it is all right
and then do so only in the presence of a responsible
adult. They should never "show and tell" firearms to friends. Children
should be taught that if they find a gun or ammunition,
they should immediately tell an adult or call the police. If they see
someone handling a gun who is drunk or under the
influence of drugs, they should leave and immediately and call 9-1-1.
According to gun experts, if a child finds a gun in an unsupervised
situation, they should:
1. STOP - DON'T TOUCH
2. LEAVE THE AREA
3. TELL AN ADULT
Children should be taught to never point any weapon, real or otherwise,
at others. This includes BB guns, toy guns, water
pistols, darts, toy bow and arrow sets, etc. They should not point a
weapon at the television, pets, birds, or other animals. They
should never let someone point a gun at them, and should leave if it happens.
Gun shots are not necessarily loud. If a child hears a "popping" sound,
the sound of a firecracker, or what appears to be
gunfire, they should not go outside to investigate. Do not assume
everything is okay. Seek protection and notify the police.
Adults who own firearms tend to hide them from their children. It
becomes shrouded in secrecy. When children discover
guns, they like to mimic what they see on television. They point and
shoot. In some cases, a child too young to pull the
trigger, turns it around, points it at his face, and squeezes the
trigger with his thumbs. Many guns are not equipped with a
safety lock mechanism, increasing their danger.
Most kids are interested in guns. Parents should explain firearm use to
their children much like they would with matches, this will help to
remove the mystery surrounding firearms. Why? Letting a child shoot a
gun under adult supervision will teach them the immense
power and danger of its use. A child will learn to respect firearms, not
be misguided by what is seen on television. Children
can be taught the basic rules of gun use, even with a pellet gun or a
.22 caliber firearm, in a controlled setting.
Adults and Gun Safety
The essentials to proper firearm handling include knowing the basics of
firearm safety, being able to void out distractions and
being able to concentrate on sight alignment and trigger control. Gun
use for self-protection must be a reflex...one brought
about through practice.
According to firearm experts, one should not buy a gun immediately after
being victimized in a crime. Citizens need to
understand that "getting even" with a criminal is not a good reason for
owning a firearm. Trying to get even after a crime
means that the gun owner will be angry, frustrated, scared, etc. This
can cause the unsafe handling of a firearm.
Adults who own guns need to be reminded of the basic rules of firearms
and the safe storage of guns and ammunition. Guns
are not intelligent; they are a piece of cold steel with the potential
to inflict great bodily harm. A qualified gun handler is one
who is well versed and trained in the fundamentals of firearms.
A firearm should never be left loaded and unattended. Don't store it
loaded in the dresser drawer. Catastrophe awaits. This
means that if one wants to keep a loaded gun at their bedside, it should
be unloaded and put away in the morning in a locked
cabinet or safe, or stored with a trigger or cable lock.
Adults should treat all firearms as if they are loaded all the time,
even if the action is open or the clip is empty. Don't squeeze
the trigger to "see if it is loaded". This is the most common cause of
unintentional gun shot wounds. One should never point
the muzzle of a firearm at someone unless they intend to kill or destroy.
Don't let the muzzle inadvertently drop or point at others.
Don't handle firearms when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This
includes over-the-counter cough preparations and allergy medications.
Don't practice with a firearm if you feel ill, have a cold, or have an ear ache.
Guns and ammunition should always be stored separately. Ammunition
should be stored in a metal container, such as an
ammo box. It should be kept in a cool, dry area with little temperature
change. The garage is not a good location because of wide temperature fluctuations.
If you have additional questions about gun safety contact your local gun
range, firearm dealer, or your local police or sheriff's department.
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