The family is coming for the holidays, but they aren't all comfortable with guns. What do you do?
I was raised in a very gun-friendly home where it was not uncommon to come across one or two loaded firearms in a day. Of course, I was taught the rules of firearm safety, to respect guns, and how to unload and load a weapon if I ever needed to. But this wasn't the case for all of my family members, and so things would change when family came to visit over the holidays or for special occasions.
No matter how old they are, a person's maturity level determines whether or not they are ready to use a gun. Anyone untrained and uneducated about using a firearm can be dangerous if they decide to handle one, especially unsupervised. It is essential for gun owners to remember they are responsible for their guns at all times, especially when they're in the hands of others. If you plan to host family members for the holidays, it is a good idea to have a plan for having access to your firearms without compromising the safety of others.
An unloaded gun is a useless gun. Never compromise your safety and right to self-defense for any family or friends who come to visit. However, if you typically keep a loaded shotgun near your bed or stage a few firearms around your house for quick access, it is a good idea to lock these up in a safe while they're visiting. At the very least, lock any guns up during the day, so no one has access to them that don't know how to use them.
This may be easier said than done and depends upon you knowing your family members' interest in shooting a gun. If your family members visiting realize they're walking into a gun-friendly home, it doesn't hurt to ask if they'd like to learn the rules of firearm safety and how to check if a gun is loaded. It could also be the perfect family bonding time to take a trip to the range and finally show your cousin or nephew how to live-fire a pistol. Education on firearm use is what saves lives. If more people respect firearms and understand how they function, "accidents" can be avoided.
Whether you're visiting family or they're visiting you for the holidays, it's time to strap on a holster and avoid purse or pack carrying. If you're like my family, there's usually one room where everyone leaves their coats, purses or bags, and even their shoes while visiting. If there are younger kids in the extended family, you should never leave a gun anywhere out of sight. It's too easy for them to accidentally open your purse and find a gun when they were looking for candy in their mom's purse that looks similar to yours. For just a few days you're around family, consider keeping your gun on your body, so you are the only one that has access to it.
If you're a gun enthusiast and a concealed carrier, it can be a challenge to remember that not everyone comes from a gun-friendly home. While it may be entirely normal for us to use a gun every day or see one every day now, try to remember when you were first introduced to firearms. How much did you know about them back then? Do you know everything there is to know about them now? Certainly not. The world of firearms and gun ownership can be overwhelming so try to put yourself in your family's shoes. Do the best you can to educate them or prevent access to firearms while they're visiting for the holidays.
Kenzie Fitzpatrick is a professional competitive shooter and an active blogger for many firearm websites. As an NRA-certified instructor and National Range Officer Institute Chief Range Officer, Kenzie trains new shooters on basic firearm safety, brings new shooters to competitive shooting, and works major matches across the country. She has a passion for teaching people how to concealed carry and is a positive ambassador for the Second Amendment.
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