By Rikki Schwab
It is the time of year when we are going full force into summer activities. There is so much to do with our families and friends. It is important to remember to not be complacent. I think it is important to discuss gun safety as our summer gets underway.
There have been many recent articles about youths and gun violence. We can educate our kids about the things they are seeing on television, which can make them curious. Children often have a fascination with firearms. No matter how much we may prevent our kids from being exposed to them, they are just curious.
Some parents give their children plastic toy guns for them to play with. They may give them something to wear and they can play cops and robbers. But remember that children’s brains are little sponges and they soak up everything. If you argue in front of them, or watch something violent, and they hear it or see it, they take it all in. No matter how many times you repeat things, sometimes they just don’t get it. But you can help then make good decisions.
When giving your child a toy gun to play with, always tell them to not point it at anyone. Always explain to them that they should not touch real guns of any type. Even a BB gun can cause harm. If you always enforce the same rules over and over, and give positive reinforcement, they will get it.
Many people want to shield their children from firearms, but that can encourage curious behavior. It’s okay to take them to a gun safety course, or show them your firearm and explain what it does. Children are very smart and curious, and if you don’t show them, they may seek out answers on their own. Explain to them the difference between their play gun and your real one. Use simple terms they understand. Then reinforce them.
Remind your kids to not touch firearms, to get an adult immediately if they come across a gun, and be open to answer questions. I would rather my child find out from me and have a question-and-answer session, then to find out with some friends on his own.
Keep your firearms secure, and out of the reach of children. Starting in July we will have gun safety coloring books, stickers, and other stuff for kids of all ages in my office. We will also have guides for adults to learn how to speak to their children about firearms. We currently have safety locks for handguns, free to the public. We have about 30 now and I have ordered more. If you would like one, come down and get one and I will show you how to use it. Have a safe summer and remember to lock your cars and homes.
Rikki Schwab is the Winthrop town marshal.