Kids and Guns —— I’m probably going to get a lot of negative feedback about this but so be it. Just prior to sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner I was reading the local newspaper and came across an article titled, “How young is too young to hunt?” The newspaper had a picture of a young boy, 6 years old holding a .223 caliber rifle with a scope. He was all dressed up in camouflage gear. The article talked about this young boy killing his first deer when he was five years old with one shot from his .223 caliber rifle. The boy himself was excited as he talked to the reporter.
“I shot it right behind the front shoulder. Dropped it right in its tracks,” the boy said. This boy of six stands 4 feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. He’s a good student that earned an award for responsibility in kindergarten that year. KINDERGARTEN!
But he’d rather be hunting. “I like it,” he said. “Shooting a gun and shooting at the animals and killing them.”
The article went on to talk about an eight year old girl that made headlines last month by shooting the first black bear of the season. This was in Maryland and there is no minimum age limit for hunting. You have to be sixteen or eighteen in most states to drive a car but you can shoot a .223 caliber rifle with a scope at 5 years old. Now, I have to say that although I am not a hunter, I am not opposed to hunting. I am also not opposed to guns. I own one myself. After all, it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon in Florida (It’s a matter of state pride that we return fire in a drive by!) But, I do shudder when I think about a five or six year old in the woods with a .223 caliber weapon, even if they are with their Father who may be an expert hunter. A .223 caliber rifle can kill someone or something a mile away. Beyond that, how do we determine that the maturity level and the responsibility level of a six year old are such that what is learned about weapons in the woods stays in the woods when that child begins to mature?
Yes, the federal government spent a lot of money on a study that said, “Guns do not turn children into criminals.” This study concluded the best way to reduce firearm related violence is to buy them a gun and teach them how to use it responsibly. Give me a Break!
Let’s not forget, guns are unregulated consumer products. In Texas guns are said to kill six children and teenagers every week of every school year. I personally believe that guns and kids are a volatile combination. Between 1996 and 2000, 1,541 children died in Texas from gun violence and for every child that died, four others went to the emergency room for gun related injury. Six out of ten child suicides are completed using guns. And this is just in Texas.
To close my RANT and OUTRAGE about a five year old with a .223 caliber rifle, I want to site a project called the “Lion & Lamb Links”. This was a study that asked the question, “What do you think your pre-schooler would do if he or she found a real gun—- after repeatedly warned NOT to touch a gun.” The results of this project are shocking.
First a police officer was brought into a class of 60 children. His message was clear and precise. “Don’t touch guns — they are deadly and dangerous. If you see a gun, leave the area. Tell an adult.” The children were asked to repeat his words and they could answer his questions. They were later left alone with disarmed guns and the majority of the children picked them up and shot everything in sight. This was reported by Hardy in a NY Times editorial.
The second study with a different group of children lasted five days. The children were instructed on how to make good choices, how to resist peer pressure and how to distinguish toys from dangerous objects, guns. The results were the same. When left alone the children began playing with the guns just as group one did. Most of the six year olds could tell the difference between the toy guns and the real guns but they played with them anyway.
Ask yourself, would your kid play with a gun, even if you trained him in the woods to hunt? Does your six year old have the maturity to handle the knowledge about something as deadly as a gun?
I apologize in advance to my gun distributor friends. But I’ve got to say, I would be awful nervous hunting in the woods knowing there were 5, 6, 7 & 8 year olds in those woods with loaded rifles. In fact, you won’t catch me near the woods during hunting season.