Hands went up when Troy Police Officer Michael O’Hara quizzed a group of students about how many had handled a gun. The hands quickly went down when asked if they had handled a gun with no adults around.
O’Hara nodded. “Good.”
He and Officer Tim Hunter conducted a gun safety class for about 20 home-schooled students at the Troy Police Department’s rifle training range on Thursday. The first hour consisted of classroom instruction on firearms responsibility and safety. During the second hour, the students went to the firing range and fired at targets with BB-guns.
Melanie Hamlin, one of the moms in the group, said twice a month the group participates in co-operative learning events.
“We go on field trips to places such as the Children’s Museum in Montgomery and the Cookie Company,” Hamlin said. “We thought that a class on gun safety would be beneficial because so many of our homes have guns these days. We wanted the children to know what to do if they come in contact with a gun and also how to safely handle guns because several of them already have BB guns.”
O’Hara said the Troy Police Department child gun safety classes are taught on a request basis.
“We teach the children to be responsible around guns and how to use them safely,” he said. “We want them to realize that guns are not toys and that, if they should come in contact with a gun, they should never pick it up.
“With as many video games as there are where guns are involved, children might not realize how dangerous guns can be. They need to be made aware of the dangers because guns are more easily accessible because of number of guns that are out there and the many guns that are in homes.”
O’Hara said parents have the responsibility of making sure any guns in the homes are stored properly and out of the reach of children.
“There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with owning a gun,” he said. “Not just in using it but in the way it is stored, as well as the ammunition.”
Brooks Faircloth said he learned you should never point a gun at anyone, and if you found one to go tell your parents or some other adult.
“When you shoot a gun, you should be very careful because a bullet can go 850 feet in just one second, and you could shoot somebody that is a long way off,” he said.
Graham Hamlin said he learned to walk with the gun pointed down.
“I’ve been carrying my BB gun on my shoulder, but now I’ll start pointing it at the ground,” he said.
Not only did Aaron Cordle learn about gun safety, he also learned about the proper care of a gun.
“Never put a gun in water because it will rust the next day,” he said.
“And never let the barrel of your gun get stopped up because it won’t work.”
Brooke Carroll said you should never use a gun unless your parents are with you.
“And, if you find a gun, you should not touch it,” she said. “Go tell your parents or some other adult, and if there’s no adult there, call 911.”
O’Hara administered the Child Safety Pledge to the group of students, and they all seemed to understand the importance of living up to the pledge.
“If they do that,” he said. “They will be responsible young people when it comes to gun safety.”