Safety in the Home

Firearms safety starts with educating children and mapping out an intruder strategy.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

There's been a lot of discussion about gun safety in the home in recent years, and a lot of hysteria on both sides of the gun issue. The truth is, guns are dangerous. So are lawn mowers and power saws. And yet, we have them in our homes without trigger locks and without storing the lawn mower and the gasoline in separate locked locations. Somehow, most of us survive.

We make it through because we learn how to use these tools safely, which should always be the primary focus where firearms are concerned. Safety becomes doubly important when firearms and children are in the house. Unsupervised kids and guns do not mix, so it's important to start educating your children about firearms safety at an early age.

Remove the Mystery
Take the time to instruct your kids about guns, remove the mystery and neutralize the "forbidden fruit" syndrome. Take your children to the range and let them shoot your guns under your supervision. Help them learn how they work and the proper way to handle them safely. Above all, make them respect what firearms can do.

My children learned about the deadly power of firearms early on, because they were hunting with me before they were out of diapers. They grew up witnessing firsthand the destruction a firearm can create, and they learned to respect that power.

All I had to do was show them a dead deer and remind them that it could be a family member or a friend if they make a mistake handling a gun. That's a lesson that has stayed with them ever since. Education is important, but it's not the only thing you should be focusing on with your family. Should an intruder break into your home, do they know what to do? More important, do they know where to go to avoid injury should you have to defend them?

Develop a Fall-Back Plan
One of the big dangers in using any firearm for home defense is that you run the risk of hitting the wrong person. It's easy for a bullet to penetrate through some drywall and hit somebody on the other side or even exit your house and hurt a neighbor.

The use of deadly force should always be a last resort, and firearms owners should be well versed in their state and local laws. Once again, your brain is your greatest safety tool. You probably have worked out a fire plan with your family, so doesn't it make sense to work out a home-invasion plan? You should know where the other family members are located. You should also know where it's safe to shoot and where it's not safe.

Consider loading your handgun with specialty ammunition designed to reduce penetration and the chances of a ricochet. Perhaps the best known and most proven ammo of this type is the Glaser Safety Slug. The Glaser uses a bullet with a thin jacket filled with small birdshot covered with a soft plastic tip. It's been proven to work well in stopping intruders but won't penetrate walls as easily as conventional loads do. Educating your children and establishing a fall-back plan for your family is all part of being a responsible gun owner. It's how we ensure their safety, whether it's with our lawn mowers, power saws, gas cans or firearms.