With the tragedy in Dolan Springs, I’m compelled to offer a counterpoint to the hysteria in the media.
The instructor at “Bullets and Burgers” was shot in the head when the weapon recoiled and the child lost control of the weapon.
My Dad was retired Army and he didn’t teach me to shoot. I was taught in Boy Scout Summer Camp earning the Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badge. We were taught by an active duty Army Staff Sergeant. I was eleven. There are no pictures because he didn’t want any “playing grab ass with any cameras on my range”.
When I went through Air Force Basic Training our time on the range seemed very familiar. Some folks had never touched a weapon. They were scary. I’m still pissed because I didn’t medal with the M-16 because some asshole was shooting at my target.
In 1993, I was in Havelock, North Carolina and owned a 357 Magnum and an AR-15. With weapons in the house my sons needed to be taught weapons safety. I also wanted them to fire the weapons and get all the curiosity out of them. Timmy was eight and took to it like a duck to water. Brian was 11 and professed to never, ever touch a gun again.
I have no problem with kids learning to shoot. But properly, with extreme supervision. When introducing the weapon to my kids I start with an unloaded weapon and instill in them never to trust it and always treat it as if it’s loaded. Then, every time I put a weapon in their hand I have a ceremony. With me holding it I ask, “What is this?” The correct response is: “That is the power of Life and Death in your hands”. When I put the unloaded weapon in their hands I ask, “What is that?” the correct response is “The Power of Life and Death in my hands”.
What I Think Went Wrong at Dolan Springs
1. Too much gun. I would NEVER give a child an automatic weapon.
2. ALWAYS stand behind the person with the weapon. Even if you are teaching.
3. Familiarize the student with the weapon BEFORE they are on the firing line.
4. Everyone is alert and has situation awareness. If you see something wrong say something.
The following is a video of us shooting. Our Range Master (yes we appoint one) that day was SSG Paul Fairfield, U.S. Army. He was the most experienced in our group. Watch how we do it and voice any concerns because we can always learn to do better.
Since then, Rosie has become very competent.
Recently we went to the Mob Museum here in Las Vegas. They have a shooting simulator set up. The kind police use to teach tactical situations. The weapon was a real but modified Smith and Wesson 38. When Rosie took her turn, she properly identified the threat then put “Two in the meat and one upstairs” just like I taught her. I was very proud of her. On my turn I put two into the suspect but then shot the hostage/bystander.
In my house guns aren’t taken lightly. They are unloaded at all times but handy if we need them. They are only picked up to use and when being used I’ve taught my daughter and two wives to scream “I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!!!”, then empty the weapon.