Little Girls, Pink Purses, and Gun Safety
by Kirk Lawson
[Realtree Wings and Cross Tote at The Well Armed Woman]
I had the day off from work and the kids had the day off from school. My lovely young daughter, Allison, had been after me to take her swimming at the YMCA for a while so that is what we did late that morning. On the way home we stopped at one of my favorite local gun stores, Olde English Outfitters. We browsed, she got a free candy sucker from the smiling gentleman behind the counter, and she proceeded to start figuring out how to spend my money on attractively colored guns that she liked. I'm hosed because she seems to have a particular affinity for the robin's egg blue Kimber 380.
Now this particular gun shop has a fairly well appointed section of accessories targeted at female clients, as is the growing trend in the industry. So Allison got bored of looking at the attractive guns (the rainbow titanium is also on her list!) and bopped on over to look at the concealed carry purses. Along the way she picked up another little girl, a bit younger, also shopping there with her parent. I found a digital powder scale on sale and scurried over to the register, conveniently near the purses. There, I heard these two little girls reciting the 4 Rules of Gun Safety to each other.
Of course, they used "little girl speak" such as my favorite, "Keep your booger-hook off the bang switch" but as I listened I heard these two little girls quote, and then accurately expound upon the details of each of these rules.
- Always treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Never point the gun at anything you don't want to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
In a world which seems replete with stories of the ignorant and untrained shooting each other through phone books for video likes and putting holes in their apartment walls, this is a refreshing moment for me. I know that these two little girls are already far advanced of what many "adults" are. They already know, intimately, the rules of how to be safe with firearms. This is not an accident. The parents of these little girls (me, for one) love them enough to teach them. They know that these little girls may find guns in their environment. While responsible gun owners will secure their firearms from unauthorized users, it is entirely possible that these little girls might come in contact with one, possibly in the home (or hands) of someone less responsible. I know that these little girls will not let someone point the gun at them irresponsibly and will not point the gun at someone else irresponsibly. They know not to touch the gun, to run away, and to tell a grown up. I know that these little girls will treat the gun with the respect it deserves. I know that they are going to grow up to be safe and responsible gun owners, if they choose to own guns themselves.
These little girls did not learn safe handling rules from the current legion of "Gun Safety Advocates" who's sole rule seems to be "don't own a gun" but have never sponsored or taught an actual safety class. Neither did these little girls learn the safety rules from any of the toys, dolls, or empowering TV shows they might have seen or played with.
Real "Gun Safety" is about teaching and training. If we want to ensure safe and responsible gun owners we need to teach and to train. We don't just need to "start at a young age," though that does yield good results. We need to start at every age because new gun owners, inexperienced and untrained are constantly entering the community. And then reinforce. The secret of learning is repetition, repetition, repetition. The secret of learning is repetition, repetition, repetition. (Did you catch that?) Not only do we, as responsible gun owners, need to teach, but we also need to reinforce, both by instruction and by modeling safe behavior.
If you have not started training your children or grand-children in real safety, I encourage you to start now. If they're ready to start shooting, make sure they know the rules of gun safety. If you do not feel they are emotionally ready yet, make sure they have been introduced to the Eddie Eagle system of gun safety which teaches: Stop! Don't Touch. Run Away. Tell a Grown Up.
If we do this right, every person in the U.S., and the world, can be just as informed as two little girls looking at pastel purses. We should be so lucky!