Keeping Guns & Having Children


Well-Known Member
Morning Chaps,

This is probably a question for the older guys here, but any opinions and thoughts will be welcome. Some of you will have been aware of my progress towards a deerstalking career and yesterday's success at DSC1 is a significant chunk about which I'm very happy.

The one small "fly in the ointment" is that my Mrs sees rifles as somewhat more dangerous than shotguns and is particularly concerned, given that she's 18-19 weeks pregnant with our first child, about all the issues surrounding having guns and children in the same house. The maternal force is strong in this one etc...

I'm therefore here to ask for advice on the subject and it would be great to hear any experiences you have, but - as I'm the first person in four generations in my family to hunt / shoot - it would be particularly helpful if any of you could offer some guidance in the following areas:

  • General security issues - we can of course take maximum precautions in addition to those required legally (i.e. combination trigger locks, bolts removed from semis / rifles, O/U's stored in pieces in separate cabinets, ammunition locked up - are there others?) but how does anyone suggest that we achieve a general "warning away" from guns / equipment?
  • Related to the above, I'm not of the opinion that we should be hiding it all away as though it were shameful, because like the alcohol cupboard or granny's cigarettes, kids will be most curious about what they're not allowed to see - but I realise that at the same time you have to protect them when they're too young to understand gun safety etc.
  • How to deal with the times when the kids are playing in the garden and you need to drag a bleeding, gutted Fallow carcass past them into the garage? Or when you've got ten pigeons to breast and they've been out too long already? At what point do you start them off on the "if we eat meat, we have to kill it (but that's ok)" story and how do you progress it without either disturbing them at too young an age or leaving them hopelessly naïve too late and accidentally sending them off into vegetarianism because the shock is too great for them when they finally work it out?
  • How do you deal with the "my daddy's got a gun and he'll shoot you" barb in the playground without armed police turning up to seize your guns and other parents ostracising you? Do you just have to hide it from the child so they can't do that, or tell them and explain why they can't say those things?
  • How do you deal with - God forbid - the suicidally depressed teenager, in love for the first time and looking for a gun because they're unable to deal with it properly?

I realise that this isn't hugely urgent - the child is due in January - but since I'm about to go further down the deer stalking road, I need to address my Mrs's concerns now so that she can carry on being supportive (which she has so far - and I've appreciated that, in case she's reading this) rather than worried for the safety of our children and our relationships with friends / teachers / etc.

Thanks (on behalf of us both) for any advice you can offer,

My advice things is all of the things you are questioning about hiding from the kids are the things they should be seeing as part of normal life.
I like many was bought up with guns. We were taught to respect them, not to treat them as toys and as a result the gun is now nothing but a tool. Far too many children idolise guns and are fascinated by them, this is as you say as a result of the "grannies booze cupboard syndrome". If you have seen a gun a part of every day life then it is nothing "new, cool or to be fascinated by" if you see what im saying?

As for the carcass - again, how many children are baught up not knowing where food comes from? That very thing is in my opinion the very reason why the diet of so many people now consist of junk food and mass prossesed horse meat and macdonalds. If on the other hand your little one see's you taking pride in the animal you have shot, see you taking pride in butchering, cooking, eating and enjoying the animal for food THEN they too will grow up with a healthy understanding and respect for food and ultimately for the animals that die for us to eat.
Your thinking too much about it mate !
Common sense and logic should guide you on these issues.
Have your security as tight as you possibly can, not just minimum required to pass FLO scrutiny.
I agree, in principle that we shouldn't have to feel ashamed and hide guns away etc but truth of the matter is that for both criminals and children out of sight is out of mind and removes the temptation. As such, we should be discrete with our firearms and their storage.
As for the kids seeing beasts and pigeons etc... that's a long way off for you yet pal. However, I feel that as soon as kids are old enuf to learn, then they should be made aware where meat comes from. Only you and you partner will know when your child is ready for that. Each kid will be ready to absorb this info at different times/ages.
Don't panic ! ... it will all be OK.
Demonstrate to your partner that you take firearm security VERY seriously and take ALL available precautions to prevent access to ANYONE other than yourself.
I have to agree with the other lads here I think you're over thinking things a tad you're firearms will be locked away and the keys hidden so no problems there as the others have suggested introduce the kids to guns at an early age and teach them they're not toys but but tools to do a job and they don't see then as a big deal , all the best , Jim
I have shot longer than I have been breeding so it came first, not an ideal comparison

my kids all know where food comes from, we visited farms and my folks live on one so that was ingrained.
IMO that is your starting point

They (wife) included need to associate bambi with food, magpies with "must shoot" and fish with "something daddy eats but mummy hates"! my case anyway!

security is security whether it is depressed teenagers or rampaging zombies.
they get locked away and we keep the keys for a reason.

kids talk. its up to you to make sure they understand what you have and why and how they present that to their friends. I did this by getting the eldest involved as early as possible, even if it is watching you plug a pigeon, reload some ammo, take the with when you go out to zero,
​when they feel it is THEIR hobby as much as yours it they are less likely to see it as something YOU do

as to having body parts and bags of entrails lying around.
still working on that one.
I have "daddy's" freezer in the garage and "daddy's shed" for the purposes of skinning, dismembering and rough prepping.
everything else gets done in the kitchen so the kids can see.
Congratulations for the forthcoming birth.

I think its all the way you bring your children up, and whether they have any respect for you.
My son goes beating with me, has been with me when Ive shot rabbit, fox, etc and has a total understanding of where food comes from and why certain animals are controlled. He's also been there when Ive breasted pigeon, pheasant, and gutted rabbit, etc, children are curious, and have no pre-conceived ideas. Be honest and truthfull, and base what you say on fact and you will have no comeback.
He uses the computer, which at present is next to the gun cabinet, and his friends join him. All of them know right from wrong, and my firearms have never been mentioned, but this may be due to the area we live in, the vast majority have a connection with the land, and so have an understanding of what goes on on it.
As for the teen seeking suicide as a way out, guns are locked up, ammo is looked up but bridges, trains, etc aren't. There are easier ways to kill yourself than shooting yourself.
I think you are over-thinking things, and your wife's nervousness is compounding the perceived problems with firearms.
+1 with scubadog. I grew up around guns and shooting, not once did it ever cross my mind as a youngster to threaten the 'my dad will shoot your dad' thing. Even from a young age, you understood and respected firearms which meant you didnt say silly things like that.

Regarding the dead deer thing, again agreeing with the above. Dont let the kid watch misguided films such as bambi and explain to them what it is and why you have got it. A lot of people underestimate young children and treat them with less kudos than they deserve. Ive applied the same to friends children when gutting trout or skinning rabbits, even doing deer butchery demos at schools. Generally curiosity overcomes any 'poor animal' thoughts and they go away with a better idea of where food comes from than most adults from a more urban upbringing.

you need to get wifey to see all of the positives about this. You should think of this as a great opportunity for your child to become a better rounded individual rather than looking at ways to hide it away.

Also, you need to re-educate your missus on the whole firearms are more dangerous than shotguns when around children. Both are completely safe.
Hi Neutron, Just bring them up to be polite- Please when they want something, Thank You when the get it.
The rest will fall into place as they grow. My eldest daughter was the most keen of our three and was interested in preparing pheasants, pigeon and anything brought home.
Along came grand children and our first was given a Fisher Price multitool (By his parents) for his fifth birthday , 'as he wanted a knife like Grandee'.
He was always in the shed when deer needed processing and I will never forget the time an his elation, when he managed to hack the lower leg of a roe with his plastic knife. He is eleven now and is most disappointed if he misses out on processing deer pheasants or pigeon.
I think the bottom line is, let them find their own way, my guns were interesting, but not that important to children or grandchildren.
Treat your shooting as a normal activity.

Never force a child to participate in shooting or carcass preparation, they are quite capable of making their own minds up and never let them use a toy gun in a manner that you would not use a real one.

atb Tim
My son is 10 now and he has been out with me a few times foxing and stalking so he knows the score on how dangerous my rifles could be in the wrong hands. My gear is locked up tight after each outing and keys hidden but I would safely say he would never go near it anyway as he knows how important it is to me (after a lot of repeat explanations). You have to explain the dangers of rifles/shotguns, where meat comes from etc to the kids or they will never know. I certainly wouldn't be worrying about it or trying to hide the fact that you go hunting as it's nothing to be ashamed of that's for sure!


Thanks guys for all of your responses - I should say that most of what I've said are "concerns" are really those of my Mrs, but I'm not unaware of them myself. I am the one that comes online to forums and things though, so I am placed to ask - unfortunately she's not so interested that she'll sign up and post herself and ask her own question - but hey, I can work on that.

I'll be showing her your responses tonight so hopefully she'll feel a bit better about it all - I think when I got back from the assessment yesterday, she'd been in the house all weekend on her own, which does make her worry about things sometimes when there's nothing to distract her. If I'm to keep shooting, I need to support her and have her support, so whilst I fully agree with what you've said and don't foresee any problems, I do have a need to demonstrate that I take her concerns seriously.

I just wanted to jump on this:

never let them use a toy gun in a manner that you would not use a real one.

and say that I wholeheartedly agree. I quietly hope we're having a boy (no idea yet) and that he might also grow up to like shooting, but whatever we have, they won't be playing with "toy" guns or BB pistols. My plan is to get them started using one of those bright orange BB rifles when they can prove that they're old enough to take it seriously as tim says, but never to buy them pistols or "machine guns". I've felt that way about it for a long time, having had BB guns myself in the past.

Still - thank you all again. Keep them coming if you like - the more I can show her, the happier she'll be, I guess.

As a father of four I do not hide the fact I shoot.My kids are aware of what I do but its not rammed down their throats.I am also very aware if friends are over and make my loading the car with kit a under their radar approach .I think you are a few years to go before you will have any issues with all of this if you are still at the bun in the oven stage.
Of course be diligent as far as security is concerned other than that carry on with what you do don't push them to wards what you do nor should you make any attempt to hide it either, if they ask questions give them a truthful answer kids who are brought up around guns and shooting rarely have a problem with it, for them its just a normal part of life.

Many of us make the mistake of trying to much too involve them thinking if it interests us, it should interest them
not so if the interest is there they will let you know in their own time.

Mine were totally disinterested , all are adults now and still are non are anti but it just does not interest them, but it skipped a generation my first grandson showed an interest from an early age and is now a keeper.
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I`ve never even given it a thought.
Guns are normal in my house, and all the kids,/grandkids accept them as that. They are interested, but have always been told about gun safety etc so it`s second nature to them.
Thank you again for the further responses. I'm going to get my wife to have a read of them all, so hopefully she'll be reassured by that.

I think you are a few years to go before you will have any issues with all of this if you are still at the bun in the oven stage.

Just to reiterate - I agree with this completely. It's just important that as I push on now with getting FAC / stalking etc. sorted that she feels comfortable with it and that it's not going to cause bigger problems for us down the road. That's why I'm asking today and not in - say - five years time.
bit constricting.
my kids love nothing more than blatting each other with Nerf guns or playing laser quest in the woods at birthday parties.

As do my grandchildren and my children before them but in their case a good old fashioned pop gun.
Mostly already covered.

You do think to much! ;)

Few have picked up on the aspect that the concerns are those of your good lady. The emotional side of things is natural and understandable. Taking physical precautions may go a long way to helping - if only to show taking seriously etc. But equal thought should be given to allaying her concerns - without belabouring matters.

As others note, nothing to be ashamed about in terms of 'hiding' activities. Children will take their lead from the parents in the first instance and friends/ peers later on. The first part you have control of, the second some control.

I acquired a 6 year old step son a number of years ago. I had some concerns - being unused to the kid factor. But firearms and stalking etc are a part of my daily life - and that's exactly how Ru ( kid in question ) came to see them. Same with farm machinery, atvs etc etc.

Supervised access was available more or less anytime he wished - which takes a great deal of mystery out of things. He's now 16 and to be honest he's long since stopped noticing. He pays no more passing attention to a rifle than he does the bread bin.

In terms of calming things domestically - it is perhaps useful to relay the stories from those on here. No doubt in her mind is the US situation where child injuries are more prevalent. I believe this isnt due to the number of firearms, but a fundamental failing to take personal responsibility for their safe keeping.

Until the PC brigade became entrenched, youth organisations such as the Scouts recognised the growth/ maturity benefits of shooting activities. Whilst public perception was allowed to shift, the basic truth of that remains.

In terms of carcases etc - every child I know usually only has one response - 'yum'! :D
As do my grandchildren and my children before them but in their case a good old fashioned pop gun.
My sons the same, he and his mates love their nerf guns, but they all understand the difference between nerf guns and "real" guns.
As a kid, I used to play cowboys and Indians, etc and knew that cap guns and airguns were to be treated completely differently.
Bring your child up to be polite and know right from wrong, but let them be a child. Children grow up too quickly nowadays, and the fun, innocent times are very short when compared to when I was a child, so let them have fun.