Talking to Kids About Guns: An Interview With a 4-Year-Old

My husband and I have three children, only one of whom is old enough (at 12) to have really meaningful conversations about guns. The other two include our 4-year-old son and our 9-month-old daughter. While they are young, however, we still expose them to the basic firearms rules and constantly repeat our safety messages. The older one may sigh a little when we ask her to tell us about firearms safety in our house, but she recites—along with her little brother—the very simple but meaningful, “Every gun is real. Every gun is loaded. Don’t touch a gun if you see one. Go tell an adult.” This is something I touched on in an article a few months back in Concealed Carry Magazine. After an incident with an armed intruder who took hostages at my daughter’s middle school, my husband and I chose to talk to our kids about the occurrence and to address guns and gun safety in a very open and honest manner.

Do my children get the answers right all the time? No. They’re young and still learning (aren’t we all?). But that’s why a parent’s job is so important; we are here to guide and protect our children. And when it comes to firearms, we are here to help them recognize and abide by those safety rules…and, hopefully, to understand the truth and the significance about our Second Amendment rights. Are my children still influenced by cartoons and commercials and other media messages? Of course. And while some of my 4-year-old son’s answers are a bit questionable (and a few of them positively laughable), you can see that he’s beginning to comprehend. Here’s our brief, unedited conversation about firearms.

MOMMY: What do guns do?
SON: They shoot.

MOMMY: Are guns good or bad?
SON: Good and bad.

MOMMY: Ok. Why are guns bad?
SON: Because they shoot when bad guys get them.

MOMMY: And why are guns good?
SON: Because good people have them.

MOMMY: Who has guns?
SON: You (he points to me). Daddy.

MOMMY: Who else?
SON: (uncomfortable giggles) I’m thinking. Police do.

MOMMY: Are we bad?
SON: No.

MOMMY: But you said guns are bad.
SON: You are not bad. Guns are just not good for kids because they are dangerous. They aren’t toys.

MOMMY: Are they dangerous for mommy and daddy?
SON: No.

SON: Because they’re for grownups.

MOMMY: Where do people get guns?
SON: From the store. But guns are not for kids. They are for people, big people. Good people.

MOMMY: Why do good people have guns?
SON: Because they are for big people. They need to shoot the bad guys.

MOMMY: And why do mommy and daddy have guns?
SON: Because they’re for grownups. And you keep us safe. You have to shoot bad people. And zombies. And monsters. And scratchy cats. And bad cats. And cats that poop in the house. That’s all. I’m done now.

Well…it’s a start!  And my husband and I will keep training our children so they understand, support, respect, and appreciate firearms. As a law enforcement officer I recently spoke with stated, “It’s all about education, not isolation.”

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