The Cornered Cat

When my kids were very small, I baby-proofed the house.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered that there’s no such thing as a baby-proof environment. Dang kids showed me that no matter how careful I was, there would always be opportunities for them to hurt themselves.

At one time, we had five little boys under age five. While we had a more extreme case than most, we learned early on that “childproof” is a label just like any other. And just like any other label, sometimes it’s more of a wish than a reality.

It wasn’t long before I realized I was going to have to teach my kids a lot of things I thought they were way too young to learn, if I was going to have any peace whatsoever. Stuff like how to safely navigate the stairs when they were still too small to walk up or down stairs, or how to get a plate into the sink without breaking it when they were still too short to even see the sink, stuff like explaining why they should never ever take medicine mommy or daddy hadn’t given them. It’s amazing how much trouble one small child can get into, if his 1¬†parents trust their “baby proofing” and don’t teach him anything!

Nevertheless, I still kept the baby gates in place, kept the outlets covered, put child-proof lids on the medicine, and latched all the cabinets. How stupid it would have been if I hadn’t! As much trouble as my kids got into with the baby proofing and patient instruction, I hate to think how much more they would have gotten into if I’d neglected either half of those two inseparable essentials.

When it comes to gun safety and children, a lot of parents seem to believe that merely keeping the guns locked up, or even just out of sight, is good enough. They don’t feel that little children ought to be “burdened” by learning what a firearm is or what it can do.

But think about it.¬† With any other dangerous object in the home — bathtubs, kitchen knives, or medicine cabinets — we lock them up, and we teach our children what they are and why they are dangerous. Smart parents put a high fence around the family swimming pool, and also enroll their children in swim lessons.

Why should firearms be any different?

What I’m getting at is that as you read the information on the following pages, please remember that a lock is only the first layer of safety between your child and a potentially deadly tragedy. If you want your children to be safe in a world where adults sometimes make mistakes (who doesn’t?), then you will want at least two layers of safety between your child and potential tragedy.

Layer one is the safety lock. The lock won’t always be there.

Layer two is the child’s own knowledge. It will always be wherever your child is — in your own home, visiting friends, or spending the night with her grandparents. It will be there when she has grown too old for constant, direct supervision, and when she has grown too canny to be kept out by simple subterfuge.

So by all means, lock your firearms up. The following pages will give you ideas how to do just that. But don’t neglect to teach your child the lessons of firearms safety. It just might save her life someday.



Because I have spent much of my adult life in the presence of five very active little boys, I have very strong opinions about kids and gun safety.  If you do, too, please read the following articles.


  1. Or hers. Both boys and girls can get into stuff they shouldn’t, and both boys and girls need to be taught the rules of firearms safety. I use “he” in this article mostly because mine are all boys.