Exposing children to guns isn’t about pushing an agenda or creating a potential for disaster. Responsibly and safely introducing kids to shooting can empower them to be able to rationally consider the option for armed defense as adults without the baggage of the fear of the unknown that some many adults currently have.
Quite often, I have discussions with adults who have recently accepted the need to be responsible for their own personal defense. Many times, they have intellectually acknowledged that owning and knowing how to use a firearm would be prudent, but they are emotionally uncomfortable with the idea of guns.
This never happens with someone who was exposed to the fun of shooting at a young age. While those who grew up target shooting with their family or hunting with their grandfather don’t necessarily have the skills they need for armed defense with a gun, at least they have a comfort level with the idea that guns are something much more than the talisman of evil that they are often portrayed as in popular culture.
As parents, we should all strive to raise well-rounded critical thinkers who have experienced many things in controlled environments and under the supervision of experienced people (ourselves or professionals that we hire). Whether it’s riding a horse, climbing a rock wall, learning about a different culture, reading a classic novel, shooting a gun, or playing sports, kids should be exposed to a variety of diverse activities that they can become comfortable with and use to make their own choices about what will be part of their adult lives.
“Guns & Kids” is unfortunately a hot-button topic in our society. The fact is that interpersonal violence is real and all parents should want to empower their children to be able to defend themselves. Preventing children from shooting at a reasonable age not only increases the likelihood that they will be involved in a firearm accident or injury from negligence, it could also make it much more difficult for them to be able to take the reasonable step of being prepared to defend themselves (and their own families) as adults.
Hunting, target shooting and competitions are a great way to get kids comfortable with guns. If you are not qualified to instruct your own child in the fundamentals, find someone who is. In most communities, there will be a resource for Youth Shooting Sports and you can always contact the National Rifle Association to find a certified instructor close to you.
Check out this CNN story about a 10-year-old competitive shooter.
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