Kids and Gun Safety

Should we keep firearms in the house while raising young children? I've always considered this a wise security measure. So did my father and grandfather. From my perspective, it's a question of protecting my family against intruders and other dangers. My wife disagrees. She says it's unsafe to have kids and guns in the same place at the same time. What do you think?

As you know, this is a controversial, “hot-button” issue for many people. Whether the sale and ownership of firearms should be more (or less) tightly regulated is an ongoing and bitterly contested political debate. Looking at the question from a historical perspective, the framers of the U.S. Constitution believed in the universality and existence of evil even in the best of societies. They also held a deep conviction that a free and moral people had not only the right, but a responsibility to protect innocent human life when threatened. Some in our present culture contend, however, that times have changed and that the Second Amendment should be construed in a very narrow sense.

Regardless of where you stand on the gun-control debate, there is one truth everyone can agree on: when used improperly and irresponsibly, firearms represent a serious safety risk. This is particularly true when children and teens are part of the picture. As a father, regard for their safety and avoidance of a tragic accident should be your highest priority. If you choose to keep guns in your home, firearm safety rests squarely on your shoulders. At a minimum, this means you need to ensure that your kids understand the dangers associated with guns and that they are not toys. It’s especially important to keep in mind that young children sometimes have trouble distinguishing reality from make-believe. You simply cannot go overboard in impressing upon them that guns can kill. You should also show them what to do if they find a gun, either in the house or away from home. Under no circumstances should an unsupervised child touch a gun or get near it. He should leave it where it is and immediately find a parent, a teacher, or some other responsible adult to report where the firearm was found.

Depending on the existence of and potential for dangerous threats to your family within your community and home surroundings, you need to give serious thought and consideration to implementing other precautions when it comes to firearm safety. Additional measures you ought to think about include:

  • Storing all firearms unloaded, locked away, and out of sight.
  • Keeping ammunition locked away separately from the firearm.
  • Using trigger locks.

Again, this is a serious and highly personal question that each parent must carefully and prayerfully weigh in light of the realities that surround them. The conclusions reached may be different for each family, but the priority behind every decision should be what provides the greatest degree of safety for your family.

One final note. Even if you are very careful about safety measures, you should strongly consider removing firearms from your home entirely if anyone living under your roof is dealing with depression. This is especially true if the individual in question is a teenager. A person who swallows a handful of medication in a moment of despair will nearly always recover fully if discovered quickly enough. But a person who turns a firearm on himself will almost certainly die, or at best sustain a terrible injury.

If you have additional questions, or if you and your wife need help coming to an agreement on this issue, Focus on the Family’s staff counselors would consider it a privilege to speak with you over the phone. Contact us for a free consultation.

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