I didn’t grow up around guns. I was born and raised in Maryland—not exactly a gun-friendly state. It wasn’t until I moved out to Utah to go to college that I became interested. A few friends took me out shooting and I became fascinated with guns. I jumped online and began learning everything I could. Over the next couple years I carefully researched which gun would be a good choice for my first one, went to the range and rented over a dozen guns, took my concealed firearm course and bought my first gun. Bringing a gun into a relationship that didn’t ever have any talk about firearms was potentially a sticky situation, but we talked through it and worked out her concerns. Once she got pregnant, however, the biggest issues revolved around having guns with kids in the house. In the end, we decided as a family it was better to have the means to protect us with a gun and accepted the responsibility to keep that gun out of the hands of unauthorized individuals. We discussed several ways to make that happen, and in the end it is a person/familial decision, but here are some things to think about if you’re in a similar position.
The first and most obvious concern was safety. This is a pretty common concern but has also been covered extensively. Keeping your guns locked and out of reach from kids is the best course. There are many different types of safes and what you decide largely depends on your circumstances and budget. I would avoid most lightweight lock boxes as they are usually not as secure and typically they do not offer fire or water protection. Smaller biometric safes are popular and allow quick access for a self-defense handgun. Keep in mind that most of these smaller safes are not extremely secure against a knowledgeable and determined burglar, but will keep them secure against most people and allow quick access. Simple trigger locks work well but do not keep lock the actual gun so they are accessible. I prefer to be there when my kids are handling guns so I can make sure that they are following proper safety rules. Trigger locks also do not prevent theft.
Beyond access to your firearms, I am a firm believer that you should teach your children about firearms. Allow them to hold them, take them out shooting and teach them how guns operate. Teach them firearm safety rules so they develop good habits. Taking the curiosity out of the guns will help most kids get over the obsession, which should keep them from trying to sneak around and play with them. If you’ll let them see your guns whenever they ask there isn’t much incentive to do it without you knowing. When and how you do that depends on you and your kids.
Many other issues regarding firearms and children present complicated issues. Toy guns and video games can be difficult decisions for parents. Teaching kids the differences between real and fake can be challenging, but is vital. As your children grow up you have to deal with your kid’s friends and how they talk about guns. Recently I had one of my son’s friends come over when I was cleaning my guns and started asking questions. It was obvious that he had no knowledge of firearms and they weren’t in their home. Different situations like that may arise that you haven’t thought about dealing with. How you handle these situations is a family decision. There’s no definitive right or wrong answer as each kid is different.
Having guns in the home with children can be dangerous if they are not taught proper firearm safety and if the guns are not properly secured, but in the end I was more comfortable in my ability to keep my kids safe with a gun than to try and protect them without.