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For many families, the presence of guns in the home is considered pretty normal. According to the Pew Research Group, about one in three American households with children under the age of 18 say that they have a gun. And some parents who expose their kids to guns early say training in firearm safety keeps accidents from happening and may actually make kids more cautious around guns.
“All children should be taught firearm safety if they’re interested in firearms,” said Buck Buchanan, a master instructor at a shooting range in Livermore, California. “[Parents should] give them that opportunity, if they are interested, to present it in a safe environment.”
One of those parents, Sadiq Anthony, goes to the shooting range with his two daughters, Hazel, 11, and Mariam, 16. They are preparing for their first hunting trip together as a family. “I always say that safety comes first,” said Sadiq.
Mariam says that she likes target practice at the range. “When I hold a gun I feel kind of powerful,” said Mariam. “I think it’s okay for children to shoot guns if they’ve taken a safety course. I think there needs to be a certain level of maturity.”
But some studies tell a different side of the story — that having access to a gun in general increases teens’ risk of suicide, for example. And while some researchers have found a lower suicide risk of harm for families who practice safe storage of their firearms, a recent report found that 41 percent of teens say they have easy access to guns being stored in their home.
How should we educate young people about the possibilities of gun violence without causing them to live in fear?
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