Excellent article in the October 2, Dallas Morning News:
Trey Garrison: Buying my 5-year-old her first gun
04:22 PM CDT on Wednesday, October 1, 2008
My little girl is growing up. That very special change is coming in her life. She is about to blossom into a new stage of maturity. As a father, I have to face facts.
She's 5 now; it's time to buy her first gun.
I actually picked out her first rifle back when she was just 3. It's a Remington .22-caliber rifle, just like I had when I was her age.
Except hers is pink. And it has a Hello Kitty emblem inked on its pink butt. (Just like her mom.)
That one awaits her being an age when she can handle it. I'm thinking 8, like I was.
No, her "first gun" that she'll get to keep will be a plastic BB-firing Airsoft replica of a hand gun. Preferably an H&K replica, because when she's old enough, that's probably what she'll find in all the little fast-access gun safes that may be stashed around the house. Near all points of entry and common seating areas. (You never know if a burglar will clear the string of Claymore mines out front.)
My daughter will be responsible for storing it, cleaning it and practicing the very serious rules of gun discipline I keep in the house. Which, OK, I didn't come up with, but I've lived with – like a good monk does his vows – for 30-plus years now.
Every gun is loaded. Never point at what you don't want to destroy. Finger off the trigger. There is no such thing as a safety. Check any weapon you're handed.
Her first training in this kind of responsibility actually started when she turned 4. You see, I keep all the various guns in the house – pistols, rifles, shotguns, carbines, muzzleloaders, recoilless – in either a full-size floor safe or the aforementioned fast-access safes.
But in my office, I've left something on one of the bookshelves within her reach. It's a resin movie prop gun from my favorite cult sci-fi show, Firefly. Any educated adult can tell it's not real, but to a child (or TV reporter) it looks functional and deadly.
I've drilled it into my daughter that she is never, ever to touch it. And then I do the old James Bond trick with a hair and spit.
The hair is still there.
With the Airsoft, she'll learn about breathing, aiming and point break. She'll learn a tool is not a talisman. Most important, she'll learn the rules and respect. You see, I understand that when she's older, she may rebel. She may not be a fan of the ballistic arts.
But the reality is that whatever her interest, guns will be around her. Never mind our house. There's a six in 10 chance any household she visits will have a gun in it, almost anywhere in the country.
If she grew up ignorant about guns or worse, in awe of them like they were some forbidden fruit, the world would be a much more dangerous place for her. I think it's better she not only understand that they are just tools, but that she's trained to disarm a curious kid playing with a found one. And then even fieldstrip it on the spot, rendering it safe until an adult can be found.
In no other area of life does ignorance bestow safety. Why should this be any different?
It's hard being a father. I face even more challenges in her coming teen years. Her first car. Her first date. Her first heartbreak. But I do have one challenge licked. The one about her Sweet 16 party.
I know where to buy pink fittings for the Colt AR-15 she's going to get.
Trey Garrison is a freelance writer and contributing editor for D Magazine. He can be reached through treygarrison.com.