My Project ChildSafe Story: Raised to Respect Firearms

Moms worry. We worry if our kids are with us or without us. Worries about firearms, regardless of whether we own any, are similar to worries any parent has when raising children in a world full of powerful tools – from cars to bikes to power tools. It is possible to raise children to respect firearms, as well as use them safely. Here’s how.


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Preparing kids to have adventures in life means raising them with tools. Raising kids around firearms often gets very serious. And while we have remain serious with firearms, it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. So here are some thoughts on raising kids who respect firearms and the role they can play in our adventures in life. 

When we become gun owners, we accept that there are certain things we will have to do: lock guns in safes, supervise children if firearms are present in the home and teach youngsters to respect them. 

With firearms, to raise children who respect and integrate them into their lives, we need to start early, and be consistent. Some of the ways you can do that are by teaching respect through following the 4 major rules of gun safety.
Perhaps the best way to teach a child how important each of the 4 rules are is to ask them to consider what happens if they disobey one. 
  • If I made sure a firearm was unloaded, I can’t possibly hurt anyone. 
  • If I never point it at something I don’t want to destroy, I won’t harm anything. 
  • If I keep my finger off the trigger, the gun can’t go off. 
  • And if I make sure I know what is beyond my target, I will never unintentionally destroy something. 

The 4 rules work together, each is a component of respecting the power in firearms and the people and things that can be effected by that power. 

Respect Firearms

For my family, from the time a toddler asked what a gun was, we started with the 4 rules. We locked all of our firearms away and they weren’t accessible, but to hide guns in our house would have been as unlikely as hiding the existence of cars and streets. My husband is a Marine and a state trooper so guns are part of life. 

Out of all the rules, one that stands out as a place more women can take an active role is: “Always check that a gun is unloaded.” Let’s face it. Guns are machines. They’re not terribly complicated. If you can use snapchat on your phone, you can figure out how to unload and take the safety off a gun … and so could your child. 

Respect Firearms

Many women do not feel comfortable teaching these things to their children because nobody has taught them. Moms, we cannot rely on others to make sure our children are safe … they don’t worry about OUR children the way we do. 

So if you have firearms in your home or not, you children should be taught to respect them, and know the rules surrounding them. And you are the person to teach them. Just like you teach them about cars, fire, chemicals and any number of tools in our world that children need to learn about. And just like your child might come into contact with a TV show you don’t approve of, or a chance to ride their bike beyond where you’ve given them permission to, they could come in contact with firearms in a way you don’t approve of, and they need to be taught to respect guns before they’re in that situation. It’s why we rehearse with toddlers, “Look both ways before you cross the street.” 

Take a minute and check out Project Childsafe’s pledge for kids to help them understand what you expect them to do if they’re faced with a situation where they or their friends come into contact with firearms.  

Respect Firearms Project Childsafe

So every time you have the opportunity to teach your children about safe firearms handling, whether that is helping grandpa clean a gun after a hunting trip or helping you put guns in the safe after a day at the range, involve them. When you go to the range, teach your children that each person is responsible not just for their own safety, but everyone else’s, even yours. Adults make mistakes too, usually because they’re too comfortable and skip one of the rules. 

So if you own it, respect it and secure it. Teach your children to respect firearms as readily as you teach them not to play in the street. Then it’s simple. It’s part of life. It’s a habit, a set of behaviors, it’s good gun-handling manners. It’s just what you do. 

  • About Becky Yackley

    Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle and Smallbore, air pistol and a little bit of long range rifle. She shoots guns and cameras at competitions around the country, and writes in her fictional spare time.