Not everyone lives in a classic nuclear family. Some concealed carriers live in tenement housing flats in low-income areas and others live in luxurious McMansions dotting the suburbs around major cities. No matter your setting, your home is where you keep your guns. And when you don’t live alone, there’s going to come a time where you’re going to have to familiarize those who live with you as to the rules of those firearms.
It does no good to talk about a child’s age range. Why? Because it’s better to deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Some children should never handle firearms. Some adults shouldn’t. If it’s your children you’re dealing with, you’re going to have to make the call on this one — no one else.
When dealing with educating family members about your firearms — especially your concealed carry firearms — here are some things you should look for:
- Reason — There’s a distinct difference between a firearm and a toy.
- Responsibility — Is your family member responsible? Can the person be depended upon to take the responsibility of your firearms seriously?
- Competency — Can your family member or child understand why a firearm does what it does? For instance, we check the open chamber for the presence of a bullet versus looking down the barrel. What may seem clearly obvious to you may need to be taught to others.
Setting The Ground Rules For Firearms
When dealing with family members, roommates, or just other occupants, you have to decide their level of involvement and let them know what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Namely, treat every firearm as if it is loaded. For instance, if I pass you a firearm in my house, I’m going to pass it to you with the chamber open, magazine removed. You then pick up the gun and you visually inspect it with the barrel pointed in a safe direction. Now we have both confirmed the firearm is unloaded.
Do not point the barrel of a firearm at anything you do not intend to destroy. This is actually a difficult one if you think about it. From loaded to unloaded, a firearm’s barrel will inevitably pass a number of angles where the bullet could have grave consequences. For those who live in single-family detached homes, this is a bit more manageable. For those of us who live in apartments or multi-family homes, this needs to be emphasized. If you’re in the second floor of a multi-story apartment complex, you have to consider who’s on the other side of those walls. Those considerations need to be passed along to other members of your household as well.
A gun isn’t a tool to decide “who’s right”. No matter how angry your family member may get, at no point in time is a gun an acceptable answer. For those of you living with troublesome in-laws, I’m sure you have to remind yourself of this all the time.
Never touch the trigger until you are ready to fire. Reinforcing this idea ensures that your children, your spouse, and those living with you know it’s never acceptable to idly pull the trigger of a firearm. If you decide to put your concealed carry pistol on the kitchen counter, no one should walk up assuming it’s unloaded and it’s okay to pull the trigger “just to see what happens”.
For many concealed carriers, we’re left in the quandary of wondering whether it’s better to teach them now or later. At the heart of it,
“You can either teach them now or you can wait for them to find out.”
We often think that we’re the only people who know about our firearms. Some of us even keep them in ultra-secret locked containers far away from view. But let’s not fool ourselves — those who live with us know who we are. Removing the carelessness of not-knowing is the only way to ensure safe, responsible actions take place. If you’re on the fence about informing your family about your firearms, take a moment to discuss firearm safety with them. That knowledge can save their lives.
Discussing firearm safety does not mean disclosing the location, quantity, or quality of the firearms you have in your home. That information should always be yours to disclose provided they are securely stored. Even though you may have a family member who you legitimately do not want to access your firearms, educating that member about firearms and how they are to be handled in your home is still a great idea.