Back in March, a Jacksonville mom was shot in the back by her own 4-year-old son as they drove down the road to the horse farm. An ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and an advocate to raising her child around firearms, many in the gun community were left asking, “what went wrong?”
It’s a teaching point that we bring up pretty often: the relationship between children and guns are a constantly evolving one. And it requires patience, safety, and consistency. Acquainting young children with how firearms operate is a first step to them understanding the ramifications of proper use. But what about parents or grandparents picking their kids up from school, living a busy schedule, and just don’t have the time to dedicate to that relationship?
That’s a tough situation.
Hiding your gun in the car so your kids don’t have access to it is, in of itself, a recipe for disaster. You can get a custom concealed compartment installed into your vehicle that’s operated by a keypad or a key FOB but even that’s just an expensive delay to the inevitable. Children have to be educated about guns if they are to be counted on to respect them.
There’s two places a gun should be while you’re in a car with a child:
- On your body, secure in a holster.
- Locked in a case, unloaded.
There is no sense in hiding a gun from a child because that’s a security risk. Your attention will be on getting to your destination safely. Your child’s attention will not be. And as we’ve seen through countless stories in the news, like the event we described with the mother and her son, it only takes one mistake to result in tragedy or damage.
Address The Elephant In The Room Head On
This is a gun. And while it is in your possession, it’s a tool meant to be used to protect you, your child, and your property from harm. You know your child best and how to translate that message to his or her appropriate level of understanding — but that message needs to be there. It needs to be reinforced with both positive and negative reinforcement.
With children, you’re either training them for a bright future in the handling of firearms as tools meant to be respected and used properly or you’re opening them up to the whole other range of possibilities that can result in injury to themselves and others.
As the parent, you get to make that decision.
For Situations Other Than Ideal
We don’t all have rose colored glasses on. There’s a world out there and the situations in which we are faced with as parents sometimes doesn’t always yield the most ideal circumstances for raising a child. Now, more than ever, it’s important to dedicate the time and attention to ensuring your child is competent and capable of identifying a firearm and then identifying the correct course of action.
“If you see a gun, don’t touch it — find an adult.”
At the most basic and youngest ages, this may become the best answer. As the child matures, he or she will be more capable of handling nuance. For instance, what if your child is riding in someone else’s car and sees a gun? Does he know that it’s something not to play with?
You may have developed that understanding of firearms between yourself and your child while in the car — now consider the other possibilities and educate accordingly. The life you save may very well be your own.