Some lessons bear repeating, and lessons about gun safety are right at the top of the list.
Just as the U.S. Forest Service’s Smokey Bear teaches children not to play with matches, Eddie Eagle, mascot of the NRA’s gun accident prevention program for young children, teaches them not to play with firearms with a simple, memorable four-part message. If you find a gun in an unsupervised situation, you should:
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
As adults it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of all children, whoever and wherever they might be.
Whether you personally own a gun or not, each of us must keep in mind that one third of American households do have guns. That fact alone makes it all the more important that we teach our children this lesson well: only with a parent present or with parental permission and adult supervision should a child be around firearms.
To help teach your children or grandchildren these fundamentals of gun safety, you might take your cues from Eddie Eagle, who, through schoolteachers, administrators, counselors, fire and police officials, has reached out to 26 million children since the program was launched1988.
Why Age Matters
Children between the ages of 4 and 7 have very different levels of knowledge about guns, so keep these tips in mind when you’re talking with them.
Pre-K – First Grade: Depending on the comprehension level of children, some terms may need to be explained. For example, children may not understand what is meant by the phrase "leave the area." Discuss the concept of "area”—the room, the house, the playground, for example.
You may need to show graphically what a gun is and what it can do in real life. You can’t overstate that guns in cartoons, television shows, and movies are toys, and people are only pretending to be shot. Make it absolutely clear: Guns are not toys.
Second – Third Grades: At this age, children’s natural curiosity is unleashed. It’s a wonderful thing to behold, but it also can spell danger, especially when it comes to guns. By now, kids have spun guns into their perceptions of fantasy and reality. This is the age when you can’t say too often, “Guns are not toys—and showing off with them is not cool.”
If you’d like help from visual materials or a lesson plan, the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program makes these tools available to all at nominal cost
Once Is Not Enough
As we know, there’s no way to call back a bullet, making it all the more important to repeat children’s lessons in gun accident prevention.
As one gun owner advised in a blog about the responsibilities of gun ownership, “My wife and I have talked with our kids about gun safety in the past, but we have now decided to have the discussion on a more regular basis. A check and balance system of talking to each other about gun safety might save a life someday. I think we all need a little reminder now and then.”
We adults also may need reminders now and then that we are responsible for protecting ourselves through gun safety measures. And, in the same way, we are responsible for protecting our health through preventive measures, such as annual cancer screenings. As NRA members, you can look to your NRA Endorsed Cancer Care insurance to help you stay on top of your annual tests with the Wellness Care benefit.
To order Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program materials, call toll-free (800) 231-0752 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.