Friday morning I posted this on Facebook…
“The news from Connecticut this morning is beyond awful and devastating. Sending comfort and prayers to the children, parents and faculty. A heartfelt thank you to first responders and law enforcement at the scene and wishing swift and sure hands to the medical personnel healing those in need. What an awful day…”
Reports on the death count in the Sandy Hook Elementary School violence were still coming in when people in powerful positions sought to make their case for gun control. I find such callous, I-told-you-so commentary and promotion of their “quick solution” to the problem indicative of irrational thinking. With so little facts on what happened it not only made no sense, it added to my feelings of sickness and hopelessness. I look to my leaders to be rational, caring, controlled and logical. So many of these individuals yesterday indicated that, though they may be in positions of power, they do not possess the qualities of a leader.
I am not qualified to talk about why this deranged individual did what he did. As a law abiding citizen who follows government regulations set forth to legally own guns I cannot understand it. As someone who actively promotes safe, responsible firearm ownership, I struggle to comprehend it. As a mother, I cannot fathom it.
Guns are mechanical tools that launch a projectile into a target. Some would have you believe that a target is only and always a person. That is false. A target can be anything from an aluminum can to a piece of paper to, yes, people and animals.
The millions of legal gun owners in this country are not criminals or those on the verge of committing atrocious violence. This needs to be understood and the issue fully examined with regard to any gun control. I am not a politician, nor do I have any interest in becoming one, so I am not going to go into how we can fix the world. There are enough people doing just that right now. What I am going to write about is what I think is important with regard to guns. Here is what I know:
- I know that people with guns save lives every day.
- I know that there are cruel, sick people in this world who are capable, willing and have the desire to hurt people.
- I know that it is my responsibility as a parent to give my children tools they need to both survive and thrive in this world.
And, I am going to be so bold to say that everyone should know and understand the firearms safety rules. If you’re thinking of owning a firearm, this is the first thing you should research and learn. If you already own guns, then this is what you need to practice, diligently. If you are vehemently opposed to owning a firearm, you should still learn about firearm safety.
The Basic Rules:
- Treat all firearms as if they are loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
- Do not point at or cover anything with the muzzle you do not intend to shoot.
- Be certain of your line of fire and backstop. If you aren’t sure, don’t shoot.
When someone breaks these rules, they are being careless with your personal safety. If these rules are broken, bad things happen. It doesn’t matter if it occurs in the home, on a shooting range or in a public place. Unsafe handling of firearms cannot and should not be tolerated.
But how young is too young to start talking about guns? There are some parents who want to shelter their children from gun violence. I certainly cannot fault them for that. I want my sweet munchkin to have a life filled with happiness and to enjoy innocence as long as possible. But when it comes to firearm safety, I think of it much like I view fire safety. I want my child to be aware of dangers and how to keep safe so that she can live a long, wonderful life and perhaps one day have children of her own.
Regardless of whether you love or loathe the NRA, their Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program is excellent and teaches gun avoidance to pre-K to third grade age children. The basic premise of the program is that if a child sees a firearm, they should:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
As gun owners, my husband and I go into more detail with our daughter. I don’t believe in preaching what people should do as parents, but I can share how we address it in our home in hopes that it can provide some help to others.
- We stress that guns are not toys and that our child should never play with them. We do the same for sharp knives, or a hot stove. These things are dangerous and when she is older she can learn more about how to use these tools if she chooses to.
- If our daughter has questions about guns we answer them. We keep things as simple as possible and try to include her in the conversation. I have found she is much more likely to remember the discussion when she is able to be a part of it and not just talked to.
- We talk about the firearm rules in steps. We do this in everything from teaching her to how to wipe her bottom on the toilet to gun safety. Some of the firearm safety rules are hard for her to grasp, but the easiest one is don’t point the gun at anything you don’t want to shoot. A simple analogy I have used is a water hose. She understands that if the end of the hose with the hole is pointed at her she will probably get wet. If the end of the gun with the hole in it is pointed at her then she could be hurt.
- We also discuss the importance of getting away from dangerous situations. If someone has a gun or a knife pointed at her, she needs to get away from them. I don’t care if she’s at a friend’s house, at school or on the range. If someone is pointing a gun at my daughter, I want her to try to get away from that person.
Regardless of where you stand on the gun issue, the benefit to knowing firearm safety and teaching it to your children could help save lives and that is what we all want.
My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their precious, cherished ones. Like so many, I too am sending thoughts of comfort and prayers. In loving memory of those we should remember…
Madeleine F. Hsu
Catherine V. Hubbard
Anne Marie Murphy
Allison N. Wyatt
Rest in peace.