First, the good news: the number of deaths resulting from the accidental or negligent discharge of a firearm is at a 25 year low, if not an all-time low. This applies to all age groups—there were 69 fatal accidental shootings involving someone under the age of 15 per the most recent CDC data, for the calendar year 2013.
I’m willing to bet that most of those could have been prevented had better safety procedures been followed.
I’m going to take a fairly hard line on this issue: it is your responsibility to secure your firearms if there are children around. Spare me all talk of “my kids know the rules” — we both know that’s wishful thinking. It’s the law in most states, and for good reason—they are a big part in the reduction of accidental firearms deaths involving young people.
I’m fully aware that most of us own guns, in part, for self-defense and to be useful in that role they need to be accessible. Squaring that circle is easier than you’d think—with a bit of planning your firearms can be readily available and out of the reach of little ones.
It can be pretty simple.
Having a good, reliable gun safe and using it is a great start, as are trigger locks. It’s easy to use both, and to get in the habit of locking up any firearm that isn’t in active use—and yes, CCW counts as active use with me.
Consider a separate, dedicated safe for your defensive weapons.
There are some great options for handgun safes that keep your CCW or defensive sidearm within easy reach. The might be a good investment if there are children in the home.
Safe storage counts in the vehicle, too.
We’ve talked a lot in the past about how to safely stash your firearms in your car, and those principles apply double when transporting your kids around.
Use the right holster.
A good holster does more than just keep your gun handy—it keeps it secure. While we mostly think about weapons retention when dealing with bad guys, curious little hands are also something to keep in mind.
Keep your CCW life discreet.
The grey man approach is part of both situational awareness and problem avoidance. No one needs to know you carry—and this especially includes your teenager’s friends. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and you don’t want curious knuckleheads searching your house for guns.
Educate your children.
It’s important to child-proof your guns, and equally important to gun-proof your children. Teaching them to shoot, to handle firearms correctly and safely, and training them to understand the importance of CCW and the accompanying lifestyle accomplish several ends. It curbs youthful curiosity by taking the mystery out of firearms. It impresses upon them the responsibility that comes with gun ownership and the importance of gun safety. And finally, it creates a new generation of law-abiding responsible gun owners to carry on our Second Amendment traditions, if they so choose.
I’ll end with a final observation: your kids might not like guns and shooting, and I encourage you to respect their feelings on the matter. Different strokes for different folks as they say, and forcing them into an activity they dislike won’t make them enjoy it. Give them the training, give them the option, keep them safe, and then let them figure it out for themselves. And in the meantime, stay safe out there.