David Codrea at the National Gun Rights Examiner has an article titled “Love your children? Teach them how to safely handle guns.” The point of the article is to say that the solution of avoiding guns, hoping they disappear, and keeping yourself and your children ignorant about guns tends to be what leads to tragedy. Instead, the better solution is to teach your children how to handle a gun, the safety rules, how the gun works, and so on “[a]nd if you’re incapable of doing any of these things, you’re being negligent on a basic parental responsibility and need to get yourself trained without delay.”
I don’t disagree with Mr. Codrea’s basic premise, but I do disagree with how he presents his case and what he specifically asserts is the sole solution to the problem. He is correct in saying “we are better prepared to deal with things–all things–if we have become educated about them.” But what level of education we undertake for ourselves and our children is up to you. I do believe there are different levels of “gun knowledge” that one can have.
I believe the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program is the bare minimum knowledge that all people should have regarding guns. “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.” While aimed at children, it’s sound reasoning for everyone as a bare minimum of knowledge. This requires no gun handling, yet aims and succeeds at keeping people safe around guns. Whether you have a gun in your home or not, your children have potential to come across a gun.
The next step up from this would be something like the NRA’s Home Firearm Safety Course. This is a gun-handling but non-shooting class that aims to educate about the basic rules of gun safety, different types of firearms, parts, actions, how they work…. and how to safely unload and store them. This is a good course for people that maybe inherited a large collection of firearms from grandpa, don’t shoot, but want to ensure safe storage of the firearms. This is good for school administrators or other people that may be around children and firearms, so they can know how to identify and render a firearm safe, but don’t need to know how to shoot.
Continuing up the ladder, the NRA’s First Steps courses or Basic courses in Pistol, Rifle, and/or Shotgun go a step further and actually teach you how to shoot. And there are certainly vast training opportunities out there for people that wish to go even further in their gun handling skills.
What level of knowledge you care to have is up to you. You can graduate from high school, undergrad, graduate, get a Ph.D., get multiple degrees. The level of education one undertakes regarding firearms is no different than the level of education one cares to pursue in anything in life. Without question, the more you know the more you can do, and ignorance will serve you the worst.
So Mr. Codrea, while we agree that ignorance is the worst policy, we’ll have to disagree on to what extent one must be educated. To know Col. Cooper’s rules is great if you’re going to handle a gun, but some do choose to never handle a gun and who am I or you to tell them they’re wrong in their choice? There’s still things folks can know that can keep them and their children safe, without having to compromise their stance or level of comfort regarding firearms. Not everyone likes to dive into the pool head-first… some people like to dip a toe in to check out the water. I figure as long as folks are willing to get even a little wet, that’s OK.