The bad news: Yesterday I committed an act of negligence that put my two grandsons at risk – something unthinkable to me.
The good news: My oldest grandson (just turning 9) is smart, level-headed, and understands the rules.
A little background: I have been having my oldest recite the Eddy Eagle rules since he was 4 years old, and insisted he index his trigger figure on the frame and not point the muzzle of his toy guns at anyone. I started him shooting with airsoft and paintball at 6 years, and started him off with an AR-.22 at 8.
Yesterday, I had the boys (little brother is 18 months) at a park. After getting them strapped into the car, I realized I’d lost my sun-glasses case. The oldest offered to go look for them, but I knew it would be faster if I retrieved them because I knew where to look. I told him to stay in the car with his brother and I’d be right back.
Distracted, I forgot the revolver in a pocket holster I’d placed in the unlocked glove box.
I quickly retrieved the glasses case and got back in the car. The oldest asked, “Grampa, do you carry a gun in your car sometimes?”
A little stunned, I looked at him and replied, “Yes I do sometimes. What would you do if you saw it – what are the Eddy Eagle rules?”
“Stop…Don’t touch…Walk away…Tell a grownup.”
“Perfect! You get a dollar for that!” It still hadn’t occurred to me what had happened.
Then he asked slyly, “Is it in there? – pointing to the ashtray.
“Is it in there?” – pointing to the center console.
“No”…and then it dawned on me…”Did you look in the glove box?”
“Yes, I was looking for your glasses case and saw your gun.”
“What did you do then?”
“I didn’t touch it…and I closed the glove box.”
“And then you told me. You did EXACTLY the right thing. I’m very proud of you!”
Then it hit me how stupid and negligent I’d been, and I drove on in silence.
Noting my distress, he said, “It’s OK Grampa, nothing bad happened, I would never touch it without permission, and I won’t tell anyone.”
Well, perhaps he won’t tell on me – but I will. There is no excuse for my lapse, and I won’t offer one. I offer this story because it illustrates how such a lapse can occur – even with the best of intentions. And it also illustrates that a kid who has been trained to treat guns with a little fear and a lot of respect – who understands how they work and why they are dangerous – is far safer than a child who knows nothing about them.
The only thing I did right is to have a smart Grandson and use the Eddy Eagle program to give him a firm set of rules when encountering a firearm. I'll start the youngest even earlier.