It’s never too early to start educating children about safety. From the moment an infant can grab an object and direct it to his mouth, we constantly look out for potential hazards. We keep medicines and cleaning products out of reach, and we keep small objects off the floor and out of the toy box. This safety-mindedness comes naturally to many parents, and it is promoted in any good parenting book. So why should we pretend safety preparedness does not apply to firearms?
We shouldn’t, says author Ryan Cleckner. Whether or not you keep firearms in your home, Ryan believes that all kids should be educated about firearm safety. That’s why he wrote the book There’s Only One You!, a gun safety book for children.
The book follows two young children who share stories about how sad and sorry they felt when they had accidentally broken things, and about how their parents and others responded patiently and lovingly. “Accidents happen,” they say, “I know it’s true, but nothing’s more special than my love for you!”
But when one child finds Grandpa’s gun, it’s clear to the characters and to the reader that you cannot make mistakes around guns. Small accidents can be fixed, but accidents involving guns are not small and sometimes cannot be fixed. Because there’s only one YOU!
This book emphasizes patience, love, safety, and responsibility while teaching children what to do if they see a gun. We caught up with Ryan to ask him a few important questions:
What are the best steps parents can take to educate their children about firearm safety?
Address the topic – ignoring it won’t make it better and nobody else will do it for you. One of the mistakes I see is keeping kids completely away from firearms and never teaching them about firearm safety. Even if you keep all firearms secured away from children (you should) or your home does not have firearms, you never know where your kids will be when they encounter one. Talk about it often and repeat firearm safety rules every time firearms are handled.
At would age should you introduce children to firearms, firearm safety and shooting?
When your child is old enough to be warned of a hot stove, they’re old enough to be warned to not touch firearms. Next, as they get a bit older and can follow instructions, they should be told to not touch firearms without you present. Then, they can be taught to shoot once they can demonstrate understanding of basic firearm safety rules. At young ages, their attention usually doesn’t last long. Once their attention wanders, it’s time to stop shooting until next time.
What would you like kids to take away after reading your book?
Accidents can happen, but an accident with a firearm is something very serious. If they see a gun, they should leave it alone, getaway, and tell an adult.
BIO: Ryan has served as a special operations sniper on multiple combats deployments and as an emergency medical technician (EMT-I). He is a husband, father, attorney specializing in federal regulatory compliance, best-selling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook, constitutional law university lecturer, executive and an entrepreneur including RocketFFL, Mayday Safety & Gun University.