Gun safety for youth

Recently, three major incidents of violence in high schools have made headlines across the nationâ??two stabbings and one AK-47 brought to schoolâ??leaving some to wonder, who is to blame? The youth or the weapon?

â??I really believe if we teach kids at an early age they wonâ??t ever be in trouble with a gun. They know how to handle themselvesâ?¦they know where to use the gun, where not to use the gunâ?¦and they know to use a gun in peaceful manner and not ever against another person,â?? said Boy Scouts Assistant Scout Executive, Robert Altman.

The Boy Scouts have invested into having their own shooting range where they train their boys and young men on gun safety and shooting techniques. Altman says that shooting is a worldwide sport and that by teaching the boys to use the gun, and any other weapon, first as a tool, and to see it that way, they eliminate the mystery of it. He also says he believes these kids going to schools with weapons have a problem with self-esteem, respect, and self-image more than they have a problem with weapons.

â??I think a problem in our society is that these kids have problem with anger management, with self-management, with self-imageâ?¦ if you teach respect and you teach self-esteem, theyâ??re not going to get in trouble with these things,â?? said Altman.

Local child counselor, Martin Sauer M.A., LPC, echoes that idea. He says that because of electronics being introduced to children at an early age, they are often unable to communicate with others, even their own parents. He says by the time they become teens, they see adults as a source of frustration, disappointment, or anger and cannot understand problem solving because of too much time spent in front of televisions or video games instead of in human interaction.

â??Kids basically, they sit in class for six or seven hours a day and then they go home and they sit in front of their computer screen or game console or whatever. Theyâ??re not problem solving, theyâ??re not exercising, theyâ??re not developing skills,â?? said Sauer. â??The early introduction of children to electronic media, especially when it is being used as a babysitter, may be impeding their ability to self-manage.â??

In Texas, there is a statute that mandates that a peace officer who is the visiting school resource officer in a public elementary school shall, at least once a year, offer to provide instructions to students in a firearm action prevention program. However, a program like this is not required for middle or high schools. A-I-S-D said they are unaware of any of their schools offering programs like this, but do have a strict â??no gun policyâ?? on their campuses.

â??Gun training and gun safety is paramount. The sooner that you teach a child how to safely and responsibly operate a weapon, the better,â?? said Ed McConnell, a local attorney who is very active with gun safety programs in the area. He said that the responsibility falls on the parents to put their kids in programs that will teach them gun safety practices, especially if the parents already have guns in the home.

A few local programs include the Boy Scouts, programs with the 4-H clubs, and the Friends of the NRA.