Katie McCarthy: Teaching kids about firearms

March 1, 2013 

We did not find out the sex of our child before her birth, so many of the conversations my husband and I had about our baby’s future were preceded by the hypothetical “if he is a boy” or “if she is a girl.”

But one constant was that Daddy would teach his son or daughter to hunt and fish.

Hunting, of course, requires the use of a weapon, often a firearm, which our child would be taught to use properly.

There has been much controversy over the last few months about guns -- who should be able have them, what kind they should be allowed to have, how they should be obtained and so forth.

While I admittedly don't know much about guns, I am deeply, if indirectly, affected by any legislation restricting ownership and use of firearms: my husband is a lifelong hunter and gun owner.

To my lack of knowledge, he is a wellspring.

So while he explains gun-related things to me in a way I can (basically) understand, I still can't necessarily discern one gun from the next except on a superficial level.

But I have no doubt that as soon as she's old enough, my husband's going to have a BB gun in our daughter's hands, prepping her for a potential lifetime of father-daughter bonding through target practice.

Though I did not grow up around guns, I have never been nervous about having them in the house -- they are locked in a safe and my husband has years of experience handling them.

When our child (perhaps children at that point) is old enough, learning to handle a firearm will benefit her in more ways that just knowing how to shoot.

I think it will build her confidence. She'll feel comfortable protecting herself not only because she can handle a weapon, but because she understands what the weapon can do. There will be no mystery (or fear or fantasy) about what that gun is capable of -- she'll have seen it, she'll have done it and she'll be less likely to do it outside of the appropriate context.

On a more technical level, it will also teach her focus and aim and strengthen her hand-eye coordination -- skills that will benefit all facets of her life.

Not to mention the time that she'll spend developing a relationship with her father.

While some restrictions on firearms are necessary, I think the worst thing we can do is teach fear.

When someone is trained and respectful of the instrument, there really is nothing to be afraid of. Which is why I am 100 percent on-board with my daughter learning how to handle a gun and maybe even hunt if she wants to -- I know my husband will impart more than just technical skill.

He'll teach her all that he knows, which includes a healthy respect for firearms -- one that was passed down from his father as well. As far as family traditions go, I can think of a lot worse.

Katie McCarthy, copy editor, can be reached at kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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