Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Teaching gun safety

I have to admit, I have an aversion to handguns that borders on phobia. In college, my roommate, a black belt in multiple arts and a wartime veteran, made me handle an unloaded pistol to make a point in a discussion we were having. I couldn’t tell you what the point was because I was so freaked out at just having to touch the thing. So far as I know this attitude was not a taught thing – just an innate and extreme distaste for that particular weapon.
Lately I have been considering buying one of the realistic simulation air pistols that fires BBs – so that I can face that phobia to some degree. But then this happened…

Walthall County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the reported shooting death of a 2-year-old girl in the Darbun community. The shooting occurred about 11:20 a.m. Sunday. Deputies said the child was shot in the chest by an air gun being handled by another child. The girl was taken to Marion County Hospital, where she later died. The shooting is believed to be accidental, and Walthall County Coroner Shannon Hartzog said an autopsy has been ordered. Authorities did not release the name of the girl.
Tragedies like the above bring the gun issue to the front of everyone’s mind. This particular case was especially shocking to me because it was a BB fired by an airgun! Around here, airguns are generally considered (if not actually toys) pretty innocuous so long as everyone is wearing eye protection but this child was killed by a BB into the chest.

Does this mean that I think airguns or even ‘real’ guns should be banned? I don’t think so. For better or worse, guns are part of the equation of modern American life and they are not going away any time soon. I certainly don’t think that ignoring them will make me or my kids any safer. I have been teaching my 7 year-old gun safety rules and safe gun handling using a Daisy Buck BB gun and I’m still thinking about getting an airsoft pistol.
For more info on this topic:


  1. Just cause it was an air gun does not mean it could not have been a powerfull weapon. Air guns come in large calibers and send these projectiles at high rates of speed. Guns are a very important part of a free and polite society; therefore, I believe everyone should own one and take a series of courses from a trained instructor.
    We might have to start up gun courses as part of mokuren. Im going to be packin in the morning, so have your aiki "A" game on.

  2. I like guns of all sorts, including handguns.

    It's not a requirement in life that everyone else do so, though.

    I will say that if you ever have the experience of finding out that a relative's or friend's life was probably saved by their brandishing or use of a handgun, as I have, you will probably develop a new appreciation for them.

    Me sainted Irish mother is closing in on sixty-five years of age. One bum shoulder, and just not as strong as she used to be. But if she's alone on the road, she packs heat, and she can put all five rounds from that little Smith and Wesson into a circle about the size o' yer head from a distance of twenty-five feet. Those who would do her harm, beware. Just 'cause she's little and getting old don't mean she's defenseless.

  3. Yeah, I didn't say I didn't appreciate their usefulness or that they were bad or anything like that - just that I have a near-phobic aversion to handguns.

    Rob and I talked about that this morning. He found it curious that I am adverse to handguns but not long guns.

    I also mentioned to Rob this AM that I respect the Action Pistol competitors immensely because of the martial formality and seriousness with which they treat the weapon.

    I'm not _completely_ sure that, as Rob puts it, 'guns are an important part of a free and polite society' - i'll have to think on that one some more. I will admit, however, that there are jerks out there that will only resort to politeness when faced with the potential for seriously forceful consequences.

    I guess, on the gun control issue, I figure that guns are a pandora's box that has been opened, unleashing potential for good and bad. We're not going to get the bad back in the box without getting rid of the good, so it behooves us to learn about gun safety, handling, and usage. I figure it behooves me to face that phobic aversion in myself.

  4. Oh, I never pictured you as an anti-gunner or anything. Just pointing out that our life experiences impact our perspectives when it comes to this sort of thing.

  5. Pat, thanks for the link. I was slammed all yesterday and today and I've been thinking about this post. I'll get a post up at TDA with my thoughts and link back to this one as a response.

  6. Well, for the record that old college roomate hasn't owned a handgun since his military service ended. I also will not have one in my home because of the what can hapeen in the example you provided. The airsoft "weapons" are very realistic and are great training tools for mature users.

    Handguns are designed for and carried for a specfic purpose and it has nothing to do with sport or hunting.

    A good "phobia" of handguns isn't a bad idea.

  7. Handguns may have been originally designed for personal protection or military actions, but the have also evolved for use in hunting or sport. A handgun in the house is no more dangerous than a kitchen knife, electrical wires, household cleaners or poisons, or anything else for that matter.
    Safety is based on common sense, maturity, and knowledge. An immature senseless individual could leave an outlet cover off and shock and infant to death or they could leave a steak knife on a plate on a low coffee table. If they had common sense, and taught their kids not to touch certain things then maybe they could prevent some of the accidents. Its not the gun its the parents. Granted no one is perfect, accidents do happen, and you can not totally restrain a curious toddler; therefore, you have to use common sense and educate your kids.

  8. Pat, do you have a self-defense component to your classes? In this I mean that we teach gun take aways (which, in retrospect, aren't that realistic in this day of drive-bys), but we use these red guns - rubber guns that have been molded from actual guns. That might help as a segueway to your next step in contending with your phobia...

  9. PF - there are a handful of gun disarms in one of the Judo kata, but we don't practice them much.

    I have used one of the rubber molded guns before but i don't own one.

    One thing that we've found using on gun disarms is uke has to keep his finger out of the trigger guard or he will get it broken and mangled on every repetition of every technique.

    I dont know if it would be worth buying a rubber gun just to practice that handful of techniques every so often when you can get a toy cap revolver from the dollar store that will work the same as the rubber gun - or get an airsoft gun that you can use for target practice too.

  10. All of you people who are afraid of airsoft guns: Im an "airsofter" I shoot with my friends and have fun, I know first hand that these guns are not as dangerous as you are making them out to be. The incident involving the death of that child(may it rest in peace) involved a BB/pellet gun, these fire metal projectiles at a much higher rate than airsoft guns. My friends and I often shoot each other at close range with airsoft guns, they only leave a stinging feeling and a litle red welt, these guns are even less dangerous than paintball! My point is: airsoft guns are not dangerous as long as the gun is in the right hands and you have eye protection and whatnot.

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