A new federal study looked at firearms safety training for children and found it may not be effective.
That’s important for Tennessee, which has one of the highest rates of accidental shootings involving children.
The United States Government Accountability Office recently released a report where it looked at programs related to gun access and the effect of those programs.
In reviewing four peer-reviewed academic research studies, the report said “behavioral skills training did not instill consistent safe firearm habits in young children.”
Beth Joslin Roth with the Safe Tennessee Project said the study shows that programs, like the NRA’s Eddie the Eagle, do not deter children from handling firearms.
“Parents are led to believe that if they give their kids this training then their kids will be safe,” she said. “The onus of child safety should not be on a child trying to remember a lesson they’ve been taught, it lies with the parent.”
However, the report said “intensive training was needed to achieve… retention of firearm safety principles” and that it worked better in older children.
Buford Tune, owner of the Academy of Personal Protection and Security, believes parents should give hands-on training to their children.
“When you take a child and tell them not to touch something, as soon as you turn your back they’re going to touch it because you did not explain why,” said Tune. “That child is taught don’t touch that stove because it’s hot, so what’s wrong with doing that with any other knife, or gun?”
Roth says education is important but can only go so far. She advocates for safe storage.
“Absolutely teach your children about guns and how to handle them safely,” she said. “Take them to the range but at the end of the day when you get home it’s your responsibility as the parent to lock that gun up and make sure that no child has access to it.”
However, Tune says while it’s important to keep your firearm out of reach he says safe storage might not be the answer when it comes to personal protection.
“If the gun is locked up in a safe in the house, it’s useless for self-defense,” he said. “You can’t call a time-out when your door is getting kicked in.”
But the report advocates for safe storage saying “safe firearm storage practices—such as keeping guns secured with a cable lock, or in a gun safe—reduce the risk of firearm injuries.”