ONE OF THE MOST OFTEN HEARD PHRASES AS TO WHY SOME people don’t own a gun is “my wife/husband doesn’t want a gun in the house because of the children.” This is a common objection toward owning a firearm, and must be addressed in a positive way prior to bringing home a firearm. Unfortunately, I can’t comince your “significant other” that you can keep a firearm safely in your house. I can tell you what I have done.
When our son was born, I spent a great deal of time “baby-proofing” our house. I installed cabinet locks to keep him out of the bleach and cleaning stuff under the sink, I installed drawer locks on the kitchen drawers that had knives. I did all this to protect my child from dangerous items in the house. Guns are dangerous too and should always be secured from young hands. There does come a point where you stop locking the knives and reason with your children about things that can hurt them. My son is sixteen years old (at the time of this writing) and the locks on the drawers and cabinets are long gone. Are the poisons and knives any less dangerous? No, he has just been instructed in their proper use, respects that they are lethal, and, more importantly, they don’t hold any mystery.
Demystifying your firearms is the best way to prevent a tragedy. A person can be killed with that hammer hanging in your shop. Do you worry about that hammer? Probably not, because it’s not “forbidden fruit.” Your child doesn’t sneak around the house to find a hammer to show his friends. But time and again the airwaves are full of stories where a child has found a gun and shoots someone. Why? Because you didn’t teach them any better. By not taking away the aspect of “forbidden fruit,” your child is much more likely to get into trouble with your firearm. I started showing my son our firearms by age four.
I let him know7 in no uncertain terms that these were dangerous, just like the knives in the kitchen, and he must not ever touch them without father’s direct supervision. Furthermore, I explained to him that I’d always take the time to show him or his friends any or all of my guns. All they had to do was ask. To this day, my son shows about as much interest in a new gun cabinet in the house as he would a new screwdriver.
As important as “demystifying” your firearm is, it’s also incumbent upon you to secure your gun. If you have kids in the house, for goodness’ sake don’t leave your handgun in the nightstand. They will find it. Later on we’ll look at various strategies for securing your guns in greater detail. All guns in our house are locked in safes. The only exceptions to that are two old WWII bolt-action rifles that hang over the mantel. One of those is nonfunctional, and all the ammunition for the other one is also locked in a safe.