Last year around this time, I made a post about my then 4-year-old son and a conversation he and I had about guns. Admittedly, he didn’t have all the answers right at that time, and he still has a long way to go, but it was an interesting look at his thought processes with regard to firearms.
My little guy recently turned six and is now halfway through kindergarten. And my husband and I still repeat the same basic gun rules to him all the time. “Every gun is real. Every gun is loaded. No, don’t touch. Tell an adult.” And he has done a very good job at listening and obeying these rules, including during a recent scenario in which he came across our very real-looking SIRT pistol…and told me right away what he’d found.
I figured it was time to ask him his thoughts about guns, again, to see if anything had changed. Some of his answers are similar to those in his previous “interview,” and some replies are very typical of an imaginative, silly, and rambunctious little boy. But he’s still learning. And I’m very proud of him.
Here’s our most recent, unedited conversation about guns.
MOMMY: What are guns for?
SON: They unload and load; and they shoot.
MOMMY: Who has guns?
SON: Mommy and Daddy.
MOMMY: Who else?
SON: Nobody else…well, some strangers have guns. And policemen have guns.
MOMMY: Are guns good or bad?
SON: Guns are good.
MOMMY: Why are guns good?
SON: Because if you are at your house and someone comes in and robs it (it’s a bad guy), you can shoot them so they won’t hurt you.
MOMMY: When should we use guns?
SON: To kill a bear. But guns are also bad.
MOMMY: Why are guns bad?
SON: Well, people are bad. Some of them. But Mommy and Daddy are good because you are parents and you help kids. But if you see a gun, call Mommy and Daddy because there might be a bad guy. And it could be dangerous. (WHISPERING: Are you writing an article about this?)
MOMMY: Are guns dangerous?
SON: Because they’re for grownups. Not for kids.
MOMMY: Where do people get guns?
SON: From the gun stores. But kids cannot get them. Grownups get them. And good people.
MOMMY: Why do good people have guns?
SON: Because if someone breaks into the house, they can shoot at them. And guns are also for training and stuff, like shooting practicing. Plus, I have a concealed carry, pretend gun. See? (Shows me a gun keychain with a holster.) It’s not real. Kids cannot play with real guns. But this one is tiny, and it’s not real. It’s just pretend, and that’s okay.
MOMMY: And why do Mommy and Daddy have guns?
SON: So they can shoot people if they break into the house and protect us kids. And shoot coyotes and foxes and bears, sharks, wild animals, ummm…giant spiders, and…what else is in the forest? (Mumbling to himself.) Witches, wizards, and aliens. Did I say bears already? Monsters? (Thinking.) Zombies. And mummies, ‘cause they’re kind of mean.
MOMMY: Will you ever have a gun?
SON: No, ‘cause I am a kid, and I don’t know what to do with guns, except the toy ones.
MOMMY: What about when you are older?
SON: Then I can use guns—real guns—‘cause I will be a grown up!
So what’s the lesson learned here? Start training early and often. Talk to your kids. Be cautious and consistent. Follow the safety rules, and be a good role model. And remember that actions do speak louder than words, so let them see responsible gun ownership in your household at all times. When it comes to firearms, we, as parents, need to help our children respect firearms, to follow all the safety rules…and, hopefully, to understand the truth and the significance of our right to bear arms.