A few weeks ago I made an appointment for a gun safety class at a gun range. I have little experience with firearms — no one in my family owned them and the closest I came to gun ownership was a Super Soaker used in epic water gun battles in college. I didn’t even fire a gun until I was in my 20’s.
But lately I’ve felt a need to learn new things in anticipation of questions from my sons in the years ahead.
Gun safety is one of them.
In light of the tragedy in Newtown, the last thing I want to do is pick up a gun and pull a trigger. The thought makes me recoil.
But on the other hand maybe because of Newtown, it’s more important than ever that I acquire the skills necessary to teach my kids when they ask the inevitable questions about firearms, bullets, shootings, etc.
Or better yet, when I initiate the discussion with them down the road.
Like most men, I remember countless hours spent as a child and teenager playing cops and robbers, watching action movies filled with all manner of weapons and playing violent video games. I want through a major “Call of Duty” phase a few years ago. My boys will do those things, too.
But what I learned about guns I learned on my own, from friends or from the media. Neither of my parents knew much about weapons and I don’t recall either of them speaking to me about guns, the dangers of them or how to safely handle them.
As a society, I think that needs to change.
I know of at least one parent who won’t let their children have a toy gun in the house. They even avoid using the word “gun” around their kids. That seems extreme. But lately, I’ve wondered if that’s an appropriate response to the violence we’ve seen on the news and across our country.
When violence occurs in our world, we have a choice on how much information to share with our children.
However, I don’t believe we have a choice to pretend that violence doesn’t happen. Which is why I’ll most likely attend that gun class and try to soak up as much knowledge as possible. A bigger concern is how I’ll handle watching scenes of gratuitous violence on television with my children beside me. Fortunately, that question is still a few years away for me because my children are little. However, I know a lot of parents are wrestling with similar questions.
How do you handle this? What do you tell your children about guns, if anything? What do you do when there’s a violent scene in a movie or a television show? Is every moment a teaching moment?