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    Posted June 27, 2014 by
    Farmington, West Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Guns and children

    Ignorance leads to grief


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Ed Harley is a gun owner and father from West Virginia, who believes the conversation surrounding guns has become polarized. Harley said, "I feel it is a very important topic and not one with an easy answer. I fear that the polarization of this topic and many others will prevent any relevant discussion which could lead to at least some understanding of each group's position."

    Harley, who was exposed to guns at an early age himself, feels that gun safety education cannot be effective without a hands on approach, "You cannot discuss safe sex and then preach abstinence only ... The same holds true with firearm ownership in the home. If the children are going to be exposed to them they need know the feel of recoil, the noise, weight and smells of a firearm. They need to see the potential destructive power to fully understand this is not a toy."
    - taliaday, CNN iReport producer

    Children and firearms will always be a difficult choice for any parent... But it all starts with the parents and their level of experience and knowledge, followed by their children's level of maturity and interest.


    I have been using firearms since I was 7 years old. My background includes hunting, military service (Non Combat), retail work and competitive shooting.


    One must be expected to be held responsible for the results of our life decisions that includes whether or not to teach our children about firearms. As an owner of firearms I felt I just couldn’t hide them and expect my sons not to become curious so teaching and training was mandatory. The next decision was when. Since my wife and I were active competitors the "When" part became sooner versus later... In the case of our two sons we started the familiarization process when our boys where around four to five years old. This process included what they were, what they were used for and under what conditions they were allowed to access them. I also needed to deal with fear mongering, security and safety concerns. Florida has fairly strict rules regarding firearms storage and young children. I felt that removing the veil of mystery and novelty from firearms would go a long way to alleviating the curiosity that would naturally occur. Also we had to overcome the Hollywood / media flood of firearms related programming and toys and get the boys to understand that there was a distinct and drastic different set of rules between firearms and the "Nerf" guns they and their friends enjoyed... (A very difficult and lengthy process.) As parents my wife and I had to recognize and adjust to the fact that even though the boys where only a year apart in age that they dealt with firearms with completely different degrees of maturity and interest, 10 years later, one son enjoys an occasional outing and the other one enjoys every aspect of the hobby...


    Will they be the next school shooters? No. Has it crossed my mind, Yes... And the thought of one them doing such a thing is horrible beyond anything I can imagine... Recently there was a story of a child taking a rifle to school in a guitar case. The story left me with so many questions, why did they do it, why did they think that was the answer to whatever problem they were dealing with, why didn't their parents know and how did they get the rifle out of the house and to school?


    As with most simple questions the answer to "Kids and Guns" doesn't have a simple answer. We must as a society stop looking for the easy "One fits all" answer; they don't exist and never will. Do I personally recommend that all families have firearms, of course not but like most difficult topics for growing children whether it be Sex, Money or Firearms the more informed you are the better off you are likely to be...


    I apologize for the incomplete and amateurish nature of this essay but I do look forward to the day when we can come together and address and correct our concerns about firearms without infringing on the right to have and use them… And remember the Zombie Pumpkin apocalypse is nearly upon us!!! ;-)




    Ed Harley

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