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    Posted September 4, 2014 by
    Albany, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Guns and children

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    A 7 Year Old's Healthy Perspective of Guns

    The recent accidental shooting of an instructor in Arizona by a 9 year old has left a heaviness in my heart. I am deeply saddened for all those involved as this was a tragic accident. There have been numerous debates over who was at fault. Was it poor judgment on the instructor, the parents, or both? I will leave those debates to the multitude chiming in. I honestly do not have a strong opinion on fault with this incident. Instead I have sat here being thankful that my husband and I have taught our children a very healthy respect of firearms.

    The respect one should have of the capabilities of a firearm should always out way any "fun factor" a firearm may have. In other words, safety concerns over discharging a gun should always be above any feelings of enjoyment shooting may bring. This can be very difficult to teach a child of any age as most children (and even many adults) do not have a full appreciation of the finality of death. Children have a hard time grasping what death really means. Children are always having accidents - a lot comes from clumsiness, but some accidents occur because a child does not understand the full meaning of what they are doing and what can happen. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them (sometimes over and over) about safety. With 3 children, I find myself repeating myself over and over. It can be frustrating, but it is necessary.

    With firearms training, safety can never be over stressed. They are lethal if not handled properly. Trying to teach this to our children was thankfully not too difficult. For some reason I think it is easier for my husband and I as we fully grasp the meaning of death. We are both emergency room nurses and have seen death firsthand more times than we would care to. We stressed to our children what an accidental shooting could mean - in terms that they can understand. Not to scare them, but to educate them.

    Our teaching has occurred in steps - first the air soft pistol, then the BB gun, then the .22. Each child has gone through the stages at different times. We gauge their readiness on their skills, their ability to be safe with a gun in their hand, and their maturity. Our 12 year old son and 11 year old daughter are both ready to move onto something more than the .22. But our 9 year old, Georgia, remains with the BB gun.

    You see when she was 7, we were being filmed for an NRA video. At that time the crew asked to get pictures of the children shooting. When we asked Georgia if she wanted to shoot the .22, she immediately said no. I asked her why. Her response left me proud of her and thankful we were so diligent on gun safety. She said she was not ready for the .22 because she was afraid of having an accident. She said she was not comfortable with the BB gun yet. She said if she had an accident with the BB gun, more than likely no one would get seriously hurt; however she was afraid that having an accident with the .22 could possibly kill someone. With tears in her eyes, she said she never wanted to hurt anyone, especially by accident. I of course told her she never had to shoot any gun if she never wanted to. But she said she liked target practice with the BB gun and felt it was easy enough to control. (FYI: she is aware that BB guns can seriously harm someone).

    Georgia is now 9 years old. She is a typical 9 year girl who loves to play with her dolls, stuffed animals, and Legos. She still does not feel ready for the .22 and that is fine with my husband and I. The 9 year old involved in the Arizona range shooting may never be "typical" again through no fault of her own. I just pray that she will not blame herself - as that much guilt in such a young child will only cause her a lifetime of grief.

    Teaching a child about gun safety goes above and beyond the physical aspects. And teaching them that an accident can be deadly means nothing if the child has no proper understanding of death itself.
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