Scanning Around With Gene: Kids and Guns

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For reasons best left to psychologists' speculation, young kids, especially boys, seem predisposed to want to shoot things. I spent a good many hours in my youth playing army, cowboys and Indians, and other games involving play firearms.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that my dad took me to a shooting range and let me fire a real gun. I had grown up with guns in the house and had been taught, from a very early age, to respect them and stay away from them when unsupervised. And fortunately, I did.

Today's images are from gun advertisements and promotional booklets meant for young people, and are mostly from the 1960s. Click on any image for a larger version.

I'm not sure at what age it's appropriate to introduce kids to firearms, and I think a lot has to do with the environment (city vs. country, etc.). But given that at least one gun is present in 40% of American households with children, it's clearly something many parents have to, or should, confront.

I suspect that if you're going to have guns around and you have kids, education is a much better option than simply trying to keep the two apart. Kids have a knack for getting into things they aren't supposed to, and the statistics on accidental shootings are grim. A combination of access restriction and education is undoubtedly the safest route.

So obviously much of the shooting-related material I found that was aimed at young people focuses on safety and the various "codes" that define proper gun ownership. From cartoon characters to "wise" adults, safety messages are prominent.

I was a city boy, and guns were an extremely rare sight. There were no neighborhood shooting clubs and none of my friends had guns.

My dad, who grew up in rural Pennsylvania and learned to shoot at a very early age, couldn't understand why I wasn't more interested in guns.

I don't know if gun manufacturers still market guns specifically to young people. If for no other reason, insurance liability may have put an end to such practices.

But for those kids who are truly interested, a healthy exposure to firearms seems prudent.

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