Opinion: Is it OK to teach a child how to use a firearm (safely)?

What is a no doubt contentious issue – we’ve had a letter in from a reader asking for our opinion on whether their son should be allowed to learn how to shoot a firearm with their father. The full story:

My husband and I have two children, a son who is 12 and daughter who is 7. My husband is a firearms owner and likes to shoot targets and hunt occasionally, something which my son has always been interested in. They will often go on camping trips with my husband’s brother and their two sons. Coming back from a recent trip, my husband mentioned he would like to begin to teach our son how to shoot and would likely buy a smaller firearm which would be manageable to do this. I’m personally concerned about this. Not because I’m against the use of firearms or think that my husband is reckless in any way, but this just seems like a risk which doesn’t need to be taken. Am I in the wrong if I try to stop my husband from teaching our son to shoot a firearm?”

Let’s try break this down. From what you’ve noted your main concern (if only?) appears to be based on safety. As any parent we put our childrens safety above all, and I’m sure this includes your husband. Whilst firearms must be treated with extreme care, children being engaged in the sport of shooting is legal, common in the shooting community and if done correctly can be managed to mitigate potential safety risks. By shooting in a controlled location with the correct protections (including eye and ear protection that will fit your son), the risk can be managed whilst providing a positive bonding experience within your family. This could also be something you could partake in! Speaking with firearms enthusiast and professional Lukasz Wright from GunHub, Lukasz notes that your husbands note about purchasing a firearm which would suit your sons smaller size already shows an interest in safety – by matching the firearm to fit his frame it enables the ability for the firearm to be safely held and controlled.

In a relationship we have to listen to both parties and understand their perspective – as your husband has an interest in this hobby and wanting to extend his passion with his son you need to be careful to consider how encouraging this bond can pay dividends for the rest of their lives. As a concerned mother however you still are valid in expressing your perspective and how you might be able to come to a compromise. This can include whether to have your son learn at a firing range with an approved trainer, whether you’re present during his first experience shooting or anything else which might help you feel that it is being done in the safest manner possible.

Are you a parent which allows or encourages your child to be a part of Australia’s shooting community? Let us know your experiences.

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