A Parent’s Guide to Gun Safety at Home: Keeping Us and Our Children Safe | By a Local NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

The number of households with guns is increasing – there are an estimated 600 million guns in the United States. A gun in the home can be very dangerous, especially for children. Children are naturally curious and will be enticed to search for and touch your gun.

As parents, it is our utmost responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our children in every aspect of their lives. When it comes to gun safety at home, it is crucial to have open and honest conversations with our children about the potential dangers of firearms and how to handle them responsibly. If you have a registered gun in New Jersey, you signed to keep your gun secure away from children and others.

New Jersey has one of the toughest penalties for allowing it into a child’s hands. New Jersey Statutes Title 2C. The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 58-15.

In this guide, we will discuss what parents should tell their children about gun safety, where to store a gun securely, and what a child should do if they encounter a gun.

What to Tell Children:

1. Educate, Don’t Instill Fear: Start by explaining to your children what guns are and why they can be dangerous if mishandled. Emphasize that guns are not toys and should never be touched without adult supervision. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective than just ordering him or her to “stay out of the closet,” and leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a child’s natural curiosity to investigate further.

2. Stop! Don’t Touch! Run Away! Tell an Adult!

Teach your children the “Stop, Don’t Touch, Run Away, Tell an Adult” rule if they come across a gun. Emphasize the importance of not handling the gun and immediately seeking help from a trusted grown-up. This could be a parent, teacher, or any other responsible adult.

3. Role-play Scenarios: Practice different scenarios with your children to reinforce proper gun safety behavior. This can help them react appropriately in real-life situations.

Where to Store a Gun:

1. Secure Storage: Always store guns unloaded and locked away in a secure location, such as a gun safe or lockbox. Keep ammunition stored separately from the gun. Safes come in different operating options. Mechanical combination, digital codes, or biometric fingerprints. Just remember, no safe is 100% secure and break-in-proof. So, periodically check on the security of your safes. NEVER leave guns on a nightstand or other places where a child can get access to it. Leaving guns out may lead to injuries and fatalities. All guns should be equipped with child-resistant gun locks. Your local law enforcement agencies may provide you with free gun locks.

2. High and Hidden: Store guns in a location that is both high up and out of reach of children. Even if you store it high, a child can stand on something to reach it. Consider installing trigger locks or cable locks for an added layer of security.

3. Educate Family Members: Ensure that all family members are aware of where guns and ammunition are stored and the importance of gun safety practices.

Basic Gun Safety Rules

The NRA lists the following three basic and mandatory rules which are fundamental in any situation. Whether or not you own a gun, it is important to know these rules so that you may insist that others follow them.

  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Whether you are shooting or simply handling a gun, never point it at yourself or others. Common sense will tell you which direction is the safest. Be mindful of the fact that a bullet can penetrate ceilings, floors, walls, windows, and doors.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. When holding a gun, rest your trigger finger outside the trigger guard alongside the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. If you do not know how to check to see if a gun is unloaded, leave it alone. Carefully secure it, being certain to point it safely while keeping your finger off the trigger, and seek competent assistance.

My guns are secured, what about our friends and neighbors?:

Parents should know if firearms are present in homes their children frequent. If so, they need to make sure that the guns are secured while their children are there. Don’t be shy to ask your child’s friend’s parent, “Do you have a gun in your house?” If so, “Are they secure, unloaded, locked away, and ammo separately secured?”.

Being Responsible

Along with owning a gun or any type of lethal weapon, comes tremendous responsibility. You must get properly trained. You cannot just rely on a friend to help you. Instead of a gun used to protect, it can put everyone’s safety at risk. You must take courses by trained and certified professionals, and take the time to practice.

Gun safety is of the highest priority.

Non-shooting courses are available and teach the basic knowledge and skills, and explain the attitude necessary for the safe handling and storage of firearms and ammunition in the home. Many local gun stores offer classes. You may also choose to reach out to your local police department for guidance.

This will ensure proper safety for everyone, in a time of need.

Myths About Guns

  • Some parents believe that hiding their guns will prevent children from accessing them. However, 75% of children who live in homes with guns know where they are stored.
  • Many parents think their children are not capable of firing a gun. However, children as young as 3 years old may be strong enough to pull the trigger of a handgun.
  • Parents believe their children know the difference between real guns and toy guns, but in 16% of unintentional firearm deaths among children younger than 13 years of age, the gun was mistaken for a toy.
  • Parents often believe their child would not touch a gun because “he knows better.” However, studies have found that most children will handle a gun if they find one, even if they have been taught not to.

By following these guidelines and having open discussions with our children about gun safety, we can help prevent accidents and keep our families safe. Remember, gun safety is everyone’s responsibility, and together we can create a safer environment for our children to thrive.

If you decide you no longer need a gun in your home, contact law enforcement in your city on how to properly dispose of it.

 

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7 COMMENTS

    • This reads like the vague overly simplistic manuals we’ve become used to reading.
      A gun with a cable lock, locked in a safe with the ammunition stored separately. You forgot the part where you say to the criminal, “Excuse me kind sir, would you be so generous as to give me 10 minutes so I can get a step stool to reach my gun safe on the top shelf of my closet so I can retrieve my firearm, remove the cable lock, retrieve the ammunition from the basement & load the gun? I’d really appreciate it.”
      Real life for a semi-auto: load the magazine, insert it in the grip, DON’T rack the slide (which leaves the chamber empty), store it in a safe you can quickly open.
      If needed it’s a quick 2 step process. Open the safe, chamber a round & you’re good to go.

    • As a child psychiatrist, I can tell you it’s no joking manner. Children may appear very responsible, but it only takes one moment of impulsivity or anger, or a bad influence, and I’ve seen even very responsible kids ruin lives.

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