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Idaho gun range teaches kids about gun safety

KIDS AND GUNS 1.jpg

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) - In a spiraling debate surrounding guns, kids and safety — people from all sides are seeking solutions.

Some are calling for stricter gun control, while others want more education.

A local group believes teaching children how to safely handle guns is the practical way to keep them from hurting themselves or others with firearms.

Independence Indoor Shooting Range in Meridian is offering a class for kids between eight-years-old and 12-years-old to learn how to shoot.

"We're just trying to take the mystery away," said LeRoy Graham, an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor with a background in law enforcement. "We want to make sure they handle guns safely, responsibly, and that they don't endanger anybody."

Accidental shootings take the lives of kids every year.

The instructors of this class believe that by allowing kids to get their hands on guns in a safe environment where they can learn how to use them correctly, they will be less likely to be involved in an accidental shooting.

"I do not believe [these kids] are the issue at all," said LeRoy. "As a matter of fact, I think they are the ones who are going to handle guns responsibly... However, I do not know that. So, I put that on the parents. Make sure if you have firearms at home that you secure those firearms and that children, young people, don't have control over those firearms unless they're with an adult."

A child psychologist told KBOI that he could find very little research surrounding the topic of kids using guns and believes it's a decision each parent has to make for their child individually.

"As far as knowing when to take a gun safety course, it would probably be a situation where a child would show that they could handle that responsibility," said Roger Olson, a psychologist at St. Luke's Center for Neurobehavioral Medicine. "Showing they are not aggressive, showing they are not overusing video games and that they're able to accept limits. If there's any type of aggression, lack of empathy or disengagement from social relationships [then] that's a risk factor you would probably want to be aware of and address before you expose them to something like this."

The parents whose children are taking the class say they have considered the risks and believe that in the long run, their children will be safer because of it.

"[It's] like the forbidden fruit," said Susan H., mother of a student in the class. "You want to touch it and experience it. Why is there so much mystery? Why is everyone so afraid of them? When you actually take the time to educate yourself about them then it isn't so mysterious and then it's not as big of a deal."

Susan trusts that her eight-year-old son Grayson knows the safety rules.

"A gun is dangerous because it can kill people," said Grayson. "Always treat a gun as if it's loaded."

Above all, that's the lesson the parents say they want their kids to learn - to treat guns with safety and respect. As for the recent mass shootings, far from deterring them, these parents say it gives them more reason to bring their kids to the class.

"It makes me want to educate him even further and have more experience with it and understand what all is involved with firearms," said Susan. "He has to look out for his safety, as well as the safety of others. We truly value human life."

All parents of the children we interviewed gave KBOI permission to talk to their kids for this story.

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