Over a third of American households currently contain at least one working firearm. With so many homes containing weapons, gun-related accidents make all-too familiar tragic headlines, compounded by the knowledge that most could have been avoided had added safety precautions been taken.
Benjamin Nuzzi is a family man and former active duty United States Marine Corp. Sergeant marksmanship instructor. Nuzzi is no stranger to either weaponry or to having small children under foot. “Many individuals would argue that gun-safety precautions defeat the purpose of having a gun in the first place. Having to first remove, unlock, chamber and fire would take too long, costing precious seconds in a life-threatening situation. And to an extent, that is true. However, you must ask yourself, what is the greater threat to my children’s lives: a weapon present 100 percent of the time or a potential home invasion?”
Here are some of Nuzzi’s tips for gun safety:
- Any weapon not used for a potential home-defense situation should be locked away with ammunition locked away in a separate location. There is no excuse for someone being harmed with a range/sporting weapon.
- Weapons used for home defense, such as pistols, should always be kept out of sight of little eyes. Nuzzi keeps a “false book” hidden under non-descript papers.
- Always use trigger locks. Keep the key where you need it, i.e., in reach of your bed, but never next to the lock.
- Never keep the weapon with a round in the chamber. Pulling the slide on most pistols, thus chambering a round, is too difficult for most children to do. And always keep the weapon on safe.
- Take time to know your weapon. Practice with it and make time for the shooting range. This will reduce the time it takes to engage in a dangerous situation.
Talking to children and teaching them about gun safety is of paramount importance, says Stephanie Himel-Nelson, a navy spouse and the director of communications at Blue Star Families. “We’ve taught our children a bit about guns. If they ever see one, they know they shouldn’t touch it and must immediately find a parent or other adult,” she says. “In addition, we don’t allow toy guns in our home because we want our children to understand that weapons are not toys.”
Nuzzi agrees. “Don’t make gun use taboo,” he says. “Teach your family about firearms and firearm safety. Want to dissuade children from playing with guns? Take them to the range and let them hear one fire. They are loud! Once a child learns that guns are not fun toys, much temptation will be removed.” And so, hopefully, will many gun-related accidents.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.