Adults are sometimes surprised when they hear of kids accidentally shooting one another or themselves. Why would they point a gun at someone and pull the trigger? – they wonder. Kids often don’t understand the full danger that is contained within a gun. There are many reasons that contribute to that lack of understanding. Here are ten of them.
- Cartoons – You may not see it as much in modern-day cartoons, but the old Looney Tunes often showed cartoon characters having a hole shot through their body or many holes, if a shotgun was involved. Cartoon characters, of course, magically heal instantly after a gun blows a hole in them or they are flattened by a giant hammer. They present an unreal view of the danger presented by the firing of a gun.
- TV and Movies – Although television programs and movies featuring real actors may show a more realistic view of gunfire and its destructive force than cartoons, there still remains some glorification of gun use and unrealistic recoveries from gunshot wounds that can warp kids’ understanding of the dangers of guns.
- Don’t Fully Comprehend Death – Young children seldom fully comprehend the permanence of death. Because of that, telling them that a gun can kill someone is not always something that hits home with them unless they have lost someone very close to them to death already.
- Toy Guns – Kids who have played with toy guns can easily transfer their playful handling of pretend weapons to the use of real guns not realizing how big the difference is between the two or thinking a real gun is just another toy.
- Parents Leave Them Accessible – When parents do not treat their guns like the highly dangerous weapons they are, kids can lose or never gain the proper understanding of how dangerous guns can be. If is natural for kids to assume their parents would not leave something that could harm them out in plain sight. If it is in plain sight, it must be safe, is their natural assumption.
- No Guns in the Home – Kids who have never been around guns in their own home and never been taught about their danger might not understand their danger if they find a gun outside of their own home.
- Immaturity – It takes time for children to mature in their understanding of concepts that they have not experienced. Many kids make the mistake of placing their tongue on a cold piece of metal even after having been warned not to, but once they experience the results, they aren’t likely to repeat it. The danger of a gun is not a concept you want them to learn through experience, so you may need to trust maturity to bring them that understanding. In the meantime, keep kids away from guns.
- No Firearms Safety Training – Even teenagers may not fully understand the danger that accompanies the use of guns if they have never had any firearms safety training either at home or through a firearms safety training. Someone has to teach them.
- Overly Protected From Reality – Some kids grow up in neighborhoods where gunshots are heard and people are shot. Other kids grow up in hunting families where learning about the power and proper handling of guns is a normal part of growing up. But there are some kids who have had no exposure to guns and whose parents have tried to protect them from any exposure to the ‘evils’ of guns. This lack of exposure can sometimes backfire if it leaves the children without any understanding about guns at all.
- Parents Haven’t Provided the Information – Parents can sometimes make the assumption that teaching kids about the danger of guns can be saved until they are older, not expecting their kids to have an opportunity to handle a gun when they are still small.
Just as you teach your kids about the dangers of crossing a street and how to do so safely, and you teach them what to do should they catch on fire or the fire bell rings at school, kids need to be taught not to touch a gun. They should be taught to respond in this way if they see a gun: “Don’t touch! Tell an adult!”