As Americans, our right to bear arms is — or at least should be — protected under the Constitution. Guns are an integral part of American life, and as such, I want my kids to be knowledgeable about guns. Not that I'm going to take them out on the gun range and teach them to shoot, but I want them to know the terminology related to guns, how firearms work, as well as gun safety. By studying guns, my children develop a greater respect for how dangerous guns can be if not handled appropriately; and firearm study may also serve to remove the “curiosity” instinct which causes some kids to play with guns simply because they’ve never seen one in “real life” before.
So last year my kids and I spent a couple of weeks learning about firearms. (I say my kids and I because prior to this study I knew next to nothing about guns; I haven't even fired a gun in my life!). At the end of our study a friend of ours invited us over so we could have a hands-on lesson with real guns (all of them unloaded, of course). The kids learned a lot about gun-safety while they got to see, in "real life," the workings of a wide variety of firearms.
In case you'd like to embark on a study of firearms with your own children, here are some of the resources we used, which you can use as well.
- Read an encyclopedia entry about guns. We read Grolier’s The New Book of Knowledge (copyright 1985) which has a great article about firearms under “Guns and Ammunition.” It covered the subject in a very thorough and understandable manner.
- Visit How Stuff Worksto read their excellent articles about guns:
- “How Flintlock Guns Work” is not just about the flintlock; it covers the matchlock and percussion cap as well. This is probably the first of the How Stuff Works article you’d need to read, as it covers a lot of basic information.
- “How Shotguns Work”
- “How Revolvers Work”
- “How Machine Guns Work”
- “How Rocket-Propelled Grenades Work”
- Pick up a gun encyclopedia from the book store or your local library. The one we picked up at Half Price Books, Encyclopedia of Rifles & Handguns, a Comprehensive Guide to Firearms, has numerous helpful diagrams and photographs.
- Do some hands-on with firearms if you have access to them. I’m not suggesting you have your kids do any shooting, but letting them see guns in person, even handle them, will give them a better understanding—and appreciation—for firearms.
- Study gun safety. Here are some good online resources that can help.