The four basic rules of gun safety are:
1. The gun is always loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at something you do not want to destroy.
3. Your finger is never on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind your target.
If all 4 of the above rules were obeyed all the time, nobody would be injured or killed by accident with a gun.
More important than being able to handle a gun correctly, is the ability to recognize when they are not being handled correctly, and having the courage to leave. We have been teaching this to the kids class. I acknowledge that many families do not shoot guns or even own them; however, we live in the United States of America, and the presence of guns is a reality. Illegal guns are everywhere in the world, even if we would like to think that they are not.
I teach kids to have the courage of their convictions. It is part of the regular anti-abuse lessons. When things are not right, they have to be brave enough to get themselves, and if possible, everybody else, safe, even if it means that they will be embarrassed in front of their friends. Naturally, the extent to which they are willing to live like this depends on the child. It is my hope that the children I have taught will be brave enough to leave or escape a dangerous situation if someone else is not handling a gun correctly.
People who are killed by accident are usually killed by an unloaded gun. To me this is one of the great tragedies, because it is theoretically entirely avoidable. I knew a boy who was 11 years old when he was killed by an unloaded gun. The gun “wasn’t loaded” and so he played with it, and the results were tragic. I also tell a story from personal experience where proper handling of an “unloaded gun” resulted in a safe and happy outcome when, to everybody’s surprise, there was a bullet in the chamber. This illustrates the importance of following the other 3 rules.
I always finish gun classes for kids with the Eddie Eagle (NRA) message: “If you come across a gun, STOP. DON’T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT.”