Gun Girl AND Parent?

20131230-113827.jpgI’m not a parent, and I’m not sure if kids of my own are in my future. However, if my life continues on it’s current path, it’s likely that I will become a stepmom to a 16 year old teenage boy.

As a nanny, my specialty was always infants. Even so, I’m not especially concerned about the basics of step-mothering a teen age boy. Still, there is one area where I have some worries.

My gun collection is growing, and it’s something of which I am very proud. My future stepson knows what I do for a living and as an avid reader, it’s just a matter of time before he stumbles upon my writing. Unlike a small child, there is very little safety training I imagine accomplishing with this boy. It was especially worrisome when I heard him mention that his mother’s husband had a number of guns in the house and that if he need to, he could just go get one.

This past weekend “the boy” stayed with my boyfriend and I for a few days. I decided to bring out the blue guns and play some room-clearing games. He’s a big gamer so I figured he might get into it. And he did! And a great time was had by all. Unfortunately, it was quickly clear that “the boy” had no gun safety training. Trigger discipline was non-existent. I did my best to gently correct, but I’m worried. With teenagers, over correction can lead to the opposite intended outcome. (I know this because I used to be one.) So I’m not sure my point was heard.

At the same time, I had all of my guns in the house and after play time I took some out for cleaning. In this, “the boy” was not even remotely interested. It’s ok, his father isn’t either. Plus, I was the one who made my guns dirty, not them. I don’t care that “my guys” aren’t as into guns as me, but I’m still worried. When “the boy” says that he would borrow his stepdad’s pistol in order to defend his pups against a neighborhood pitbull who keeps getting loose, I worry.


  1. Gabby, I think you have a legitimate concern to be worried. My wife and I do have children and I do take them to the range and teach them the safety rules. I have been doing this for years, I don’t have many worries about my kids, my concerns are with my kid’s friends. So, my wife and I make sure everything is in the safe or on my belt whenever friends come over.

    Now back to your issue, again I think you have a legitimate concern. However, I don’t know that it is your responsibility to take this task on. It may ruin your relationship with a future son-in-law. I would have this conversation with his real dad, and come up with a plan. I may be wrong, “the boy” may listen better to you than anyone else. For instance, my shooting buddy has a very positive impact of firearm safety with my children. Between you and the real dad, and depending on the relationship with the step-dad, this may be something all 3 of you need to work on.

    I wish you the best of luck dealing with this. This can be a very positive relationship building exercise, I hope it goes well and we gain another safe shooting sports advocate.

    1. Thanks for that. I completely agree that some co-parenting needs to happen here… And I guess I’ll be looking into gun vaults at SHOT.

  2. victor, are you serious? You actually read something titled: Gun Girl AND Parent and had no clue you wouldn’t like it?

  3. Well there is one from the peanut gallery.

    I think Victor was rude and not constructive in his comment.

    Gabby, among the Gunnuts contributers I usually have less interest in your posts than the others. But that is simply a matter of my personal preferences and taste in gun media. I would be happy to share the line with you anyday and think you touched on some important and interesting ideas in this post.

    1. Thank you sir! I realize my take isn’t for everyone and that I bring up topics you haven’t seen on GunNuts prior… But I’m hoping to help those of you who may have wives or daughters (or female students) like me who want you to understand their perspective

  4. It takes all kinds as they say (why I am not sure). Life is full of surprises, unfortunately we cannot prepare for them all, as diligent and intelligent as we may be, some of them will be more than we can handle. If there were one thing in life I could do over, it would be to talk about things I was hesitant to discuss (for whatever reason(s)). Relationships, whether with friends, family or loved ones, should not harbor questions or doubts that are not addressed. If something repeatedly pops up in your thoughts, it should be communicated and resolved to the best of everyone’s ability. Life can be Full of Great Times or Not So Great Times, there is only one person that truly determines that.

  5. My advice: You should teach him AOJP, and Cooper’s Four Rules at a minimum or else make it perfectly clear you won’t trust him with a real firearm and he is under no circumstances to touch your hardware… Same goes for the your dude…

  6. To me, getting the next generation interested in shooting is part of what a Gun Nut should do. Doing it safely should go without saying. The Wild West image of shooters isn’t helped by poor gun handling skills. And if you think this part of gun ownership and shooting doesn’t apply to you and never will, skip the article and move on, just as you would if you weren’t a rifle shooter, and the article was about rifles.

    Having said that, here is how I would handle it, if my 16 year old son were not exposed already since age zero. . . .

    I assume he has, over the last couple of years, learned how to operate a car. Before that, he probably just saw cars as modes of transportation, or on video games or TV or movies. Be now he has learned that they really have operating rules, there are rules and safe ways to use them, which may not have been apparent, before he needed to know.

    The same thing applies to guns. Up to now he has seen them in video games and movies and TV. Now that he is going to use them, he needs to know how they work and how to operate them safely. This needs to be the rule, or they stay in the safe. (Which you are correct, is a part of the deal.)

    Now, the support of his Dad will go a long long way to making this work. After all, you don’t want to be the villain here.

    Keep us informed as you go. I find it interesting.

    1. Thanks a lot! I know I can always count on you!
      He’s a good boy and his dad is supportive of my teaching him. As for the step dad, I’m yet to discuss the situation with him.

      Obviously, the situation is a bit more complicated than I have described, but what I am questioning most is how to speak/teach him in a subtle way (that won’t make him turn and run). So that it doesn’t feel like school.

      Also, and this applies to all of the comments that were made after “victor”, I am always impressed at the chivalry that gun guys are willing to offer, and today is no exception. Thank you men!

  7. Three thoughts 1. As a boy scout leader, I learned that boys need to hear things from adults other than their parents sometimes. It does make a difference. 2. You should have a safe, kid around or not. 3. You should be discussing this with your boyfriend. If he blows it off, start looking elsewhere because he’s not serious enough.

    Your gut reaction here is important and I think you are right on.

  8. Ok. Keep your guns locked up. In now way permit access to this boy, and have a loooong talk with his dad about the boy’s attitude and comments, and that they are out of line. Hell with anything else, safety comes first with firearms. I saw a show on “Netflix” one time about a young girl who had been given a .22 rifle, and trained by her parent(s?) how to safely use it, etc., and she committed a mass (sniper type…yes, close range .22 sort of thing) attack on an elemtary school, and many people died unneccesarily because the firearm was not locked up.

  9. I agree with pretty much everyone so far. Get a safe, the bigger the better. Engage the dad in the process. Watch some real world shooting with him, not Hollywood stuff. Take him to the range, and shoot water bottles, fruit, etc, so he knows what a gun really will do.

  10. Teach by example. Keep your Gus AND ammo secure. Follow the 4 rules and drill him on them – if he sees you follow them he will do it too. Everyone cleans up their own mess. After a range session you clean the gun you used – respect your tools. Use some of the laser targets to teach the fundamentals. Point out that his step dad has a car that he leaves in the garage or drive way – how would he feel abut a 16 year old without a license borrowing that – same with guns maybe more so. Kids respect straight talk and reasonable limits from adults who are consistent and benign in their intentions. Yes, you need to have a talk with his step father.
    Good luck and happy new year

  11. Maybe you should enroll him in a good NRA Basic Rifle Class and/or Basic Pistol Class? There he’ll learn all the safety rules and handle and shoot a variety of guns under trained adult supervision. They’ll teach him basic marksmanship and coach him on his errors. As another Scout leader, I agree with Richard. Kids close their ears sometimes when it’s their parents telling them something, but if it’s reinforced by another adult, they listen better.

    A “good” instructor will engage the kids during the classroom segment so it’s not like a classroom environment, which they get plenty of at school. Unlike school, they have some fun shooting at the end of class to look forward to.

    When you shop for a safe, make sure you get one with plenty of room for future gun purchases. The extra space can be used for other valuables, like jewelry or camera equipment and maybe look into a smaller safe for ammo.

  12. Gabby You are on the correct path with him. I wish you very good luck and yes , buy a gun safe. Good Parenting is sometimes hard , but always worth it!

  13. Gabby, I read your article and found it interesting. I haven’t had the opportunity to date a single parent of a 16-year-old, so I don’t have the experience. That said, I have instructed children/teenagers and things I’ve found that really helps:

    1) Not having the parent in the classroom, unless the child is under the age of 13 (exceptions apply, but they’re rare in my opinion).

    2) Have a younger instructor that they won’t see as their potential parent. That said, always pick the instructor you feel is safest, competent, and you feel comfortable around.

    3) Have other children in the same age group be a part of the new shooting experience. It’s ideal, but not required, for one child to have some proficient shooting experience so they can relate. If the child like it, they can make a new friend at the range.

    4) Make the day not all about shooting, but about having fun. Take them out for food, shopping, and to a movie afterwards. If for some reason the kid didn’t like shooting, they won’t feel like it’s a forceful traumatic experience. If they want to do nothing but shoot, then say, “Awesome! We’ll go next week!”

    If all goes well, you’ll be a very popular future step-mom!

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