Firearms are a fact of life, and the #1 cause of death for US children.
Q: I just found out my ex wife’s husband took our boys (10 & 12) to the gun range where he let them fire his handgun, and I am livid! She says I’m overreacting but I say we’re in the middle of an epidemic of gun violence, why teach my children how to shoot?! What legal recourse if any do I have as a parent? ~ Seeing Red
I am not going to get into what current legal rights you have; you need to consult your lawyer about whether your divorce decree gives you any particular rights in this situation. You need to establish some practices with your ex about what kinds of activities your boys get involved in.
But the guns. I am most concerned about handguns in the house where your boys stay. A gun in the house increases the chance for accidental injury, homicide, and suicide. You have every reason to demand that the gun or guns be unloaded and under lock and key and that the ammunition is kept in a separate place.
The key needs to be in separate secure location. Get answers. I would definitely consult an attorney if the answers are not adequate. You also can ask about whether the children were instructed on gun safety.
Since your children have held and shot guns, it is now your duty to talk about the importance of gun safety. Talk to them about how dangerous guns are; stress that they should never handle a gun they happen to see. Make sure you discuss that a responsible adult needs present around a gun and ensure the gun is not loaded. Reiterate that the gun needs to kept under lock and key.
Do not shy away from having many conversations about guns because you are afraid it will make them want to handle guns even more. Now that they have practiced shooting, whether you liked it or not, you are obligated to make them aware and responsible. Not talking about it will not make guns go away.
Children are naturally curious about their environment, which — like it or not — guns are a part of today. Pennsylvania’s firearm laws are quite lax; it’s up to individuals to take the lead in their safety and that of their loved ones. Consider signing up for a gun safety class with your boys, most gun ranges and even some non-profits provide education and instruction in responsible handling and storage.
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