6 Gun Safety Tips When You Have Small Children

As a gun owner or future gun owner looking at firearms for sale, having children adds special considerations to how you need to handle and store your firearms. Being a responsible gun owner and being a parent of small children can go hand in hand, as long as you take special safety precautions around the home and teach your kids basic gun safety. Here are six gun safety tips for parents of small children:

Don't Rely on Hiding Places

Surveys have shown that parents tend to seriously underestimate their children's knowledge of where their guns are stored. Toddlers and young kids are curious and love to explore and can be surprisingly adept at finding ways to discover access to high cabinets and other hiding places. No matter how clever you think your hiding place is, it is not worth the risk that your child observed you hiding the gun or will otherwise discover the gun's location.

Invest in a Gun Safe

Instead of relying on a hiding place alone, it's important to keep your guns locked in a gun safe, which you then find a hiding place for. The gun safe needs to be locked at all times and no one but you and your significant other should know the combination. If possible, avoid gun safes that rely on keys instead of combinations since it may be impossible to prevent your children from ever having access to the key. It is also important to memorize the gun safe combination instead of writing it down.

Keep Ammunition Separate

As an added security measure, it is a wise idea to store ammunition and guns separately, in two different locked safes with (ideally) two different combinations. This will further decrease the likelihood of a gun accident in your home, even if your child manages to get into the safe where the guns are being stored.

Add Other Home Security Elements

In the case of a home intrusion, having your gun and ammunition stored separately will add a bit of delay between when you hear someone breaking in and investigate with your gun in hand. For this reason, it's a smart idea to add other elements of home security to complement firearms and keep your family protected. Adding exterior lighting, an alarm, and a doorbell camera are great options for adding layers of security to your home and reducing the need to ever draw fire on an intruder.

Set Guidelines for Your Children

Once your child is old enough to know what a gun is, it's a good idea to set basic guidelines for your children to encourage gun safety. Your kids should know that if they see a gun, they need to immediately tell an adult and they should never touch a gun unless you have given them permission, such as when they are older and you are teaching them to shoot. The NRA's kids program suggests having your kids memorize four instructions: Stop, don't touch, run away, and tell a grownup. This will help keep your kids safe even if they are at someone else's home.

Add Gun Locks

Most gun stores now sell child-resistant gun locks that you can install on each gun in your home. These are designed to be relatively easy for an adult to unlock but much more challenging for small children. Make sure that your kids do not see you unlock these child-resistant locks, as they may learn how to unlock them simply by observing you doing so.

It's important to be proactive about gun safety when you have young children in the home. By following these tips, you will ensure that your children are kept completely safe while still being able to enjoy gun ownership.