CYPRESS TEXAS — In the past week, the Cypress News Review has run two articles about 17-year-olds mishandling guns that led to other kids being killed.

This is unacceptable.

 

The first incident happened in Cypress, Texas (Manslaughter charge for death near Watkins Middle School) on Jan. 22, 2019, and the second incident happened on the far side of Spring, Texas (Homicide Investigators Charge Male With Criminal Negligent Homicide In Death Of Teen) on Jan. 27, 2019.
While I don’t know all of the details and backstories of exactly how these two events went down — beyond the information in the articles — it’s obvious that the first rule of gun safety was not followed in either incident: Always treat a gun as if it were loaded.
In theory, we should be able to stop there. But people keep proving we need to expand upon that first rule.
Depending on which organization you look at, the number and variety of gun safety rules varies. The National Rifle Association pushes three fundamental rules (https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org/), while the National Shooting Sports Foundation goes to ten rules (https://www.nssf.org/safety/rules-firearms-safety/).

 

The NRA’s three main rules are:
1. ALWAYS Keep The Gun Pointed In A Safe Direction
2. ALWAYS Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Ready To Shoot
3. ALWAYS Keep The Gun Unloaded Until Ready To Use

 

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 10 rules are:
1. Always Keep the Muzzle Pointed in a Safe Direction
2. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually in Use
3. Don’t Rely on Your Gun’s “Safety”
4. Be Sure of Your Target and What’s Beyond It
5. Use Correct Ammunition
6. If Your Gun Fails to Fire When the Trigger is Pulled, Handle with Care!
7. Always Wear Eye and Ear Protection When Shooting
8. Be Sure the Barrel is Clear of Obstructions Before Shooting
9. Don’t Alter or Modify Your Gun, and Have Guns Serviced Regularly
10. Learn the Mechanical and Handling Characteristics of the Firearm You are Using
Personally, I like these four:
1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

 

There’s a whole world of weapon training and manipulations that you can learn. However, when it comes to kids going about their normal day, the situation is vastly different. For example, we were at one of my kid’s schoolmate’s birthday parties last year. The hosting family’s dad brought all the kids into their living room and laid out the ground rules: Don’t go into Room A, the bathrooms are here and here, and stay out of the master bedroom because he has guns in there.
As a dad, who spent two years in a war zone, I appreciate his effort. All the kids now knew to avoid the parents’ bedroom like the plague. Additionally, myself and the other parents there knew to keep the kids out of that room. There wasn’t an incident that day, but the birthday kid’s dad did the right thing to help avoid what could become a very bad situation.
Please consider taking less than 9 minutes of your and your kids’ day to review these four fundamental steps to kid-level gun safety, from the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program.
1. Stop.
2. Don’t touch it.
3. “Run away.”
4. Tell a grown-up.

In my opinion, the best option to spread the knowledge of gun safety to the widest amount of our youth is for the public school system to be forced into teaching the subject as a graduation requirement. However, this is a pie-in-the-sky idea, just like teaching high schoolers how to handle their taxes, beyond a 1040-EZ. It’s not the schools, it’s what they’re required to teach, that is the problem in this case.

There’s a whole host of problems with trying to get weapon safety education into our public schools, so it ultimately falls upon the parents and the community to teach our youngsters how to be safe with firearms. Sadly, parents of prior generations left their children to the whims of the public education system. The lack of parental involvement in education — decades ago — is now having the effect of generations of students without the skills that are now coined “Adulting.” Many of today’s parents don’t even know how to cook a meal, much less handle a gun safely.

I’m going to send you to three places:

  1. Online — Watch the Eddie Eagle video above. Nine minutes and your kids will have a bit of good knowledge to help them along. There’s a bunch of not-so-educational videos online, too.
    So if you’re interested in learning about guns and the martial life, I’m going to send you to Clint Smith’s Thunder Ranch, James Yeager’s Tactical Response, and Magpul’s The Art of … series.
  2. Your local gun range or gun store. You can find a list of them here (https://www.nssf.org/shooting/where-to-shoot/). Every range and gun store I’ve been to has personnel trained in firearm safety, and the stores carry gun safes and disabling cables for sale.

  3. Boy Scouts of America. There are optional training courses and marksmanship activities for both boys and girls that start at the Kindergarten grade level “Lions” with slingshot activities and grow from there. (The Girl Scouts of the USA also has a marksmanship program, however finding information on their program is difficult at best.)

Scouting covers a very wide array of subject matters. Just last week a certified nurse taught my son and his den how to do CPR. Hopefully, he won’t need to use that skill any time soon, but if he ever needs it, he’ll Be Prepared. (Intentional pun!)

You can find your local Boy Scouts with this handy website (https://beascout.scouting.org/), and the BSA will be fully open to girls very soon. So if you’re not in the Cypress, Texas, area and there isn’t a Girl Scout troop nearby — which is the situation with my niece, who lives in a more-rural area — your daughter may be able to join scouting under the BSA flag.

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