Raising Kids in Gun Country

Heather and I grew up in homes where guns were just part of the environment.  My father was a federal agent with the United States Border Patrol and had to carry a gun for work.  From my father’s service revolver to his mini-14, several .22’s, and even a musket, guns were ubiquitous in the Foust home.  Heather’s father is an avid hunter and, like any self-respecting Montana girl, she grew up killing gophers and learning how to fire everything from a handgun to a shotgun to all sizes of rifles.  Guns are part of our culture and we expect it to be that way for generations of Fousts to come.

With this background, it might surprise you to learn that Heather and I do not have a single firearm in our home. We have decided not to have a gun in our home as the chances of using a gun in self-defense is astronomically slim. In the entire U.S., a nation that has over 300 million firearms, there were only 258 justifiable homicides involving civilians using firearms.  This is in stark contrast to the 22,000 people who die annually from either an accidental discharge or use the firearm to commit suicide. Although we have made the decision not to have a firearm in our home, we are keenly aware of the need to educate our two Montana boys about firearms.  I attended each and every hunter safety course my boys attended.  Let me explain why.

Nearly 58 percent of households in Montana own at least one gun.  Under Montana law, it is legal to carry a loaded handgun in public at the age of 14. If you live in Montana, your kids will encounter firearms and we believe that burying your head in the sand is not an option.
Hunter safety courses are available to children in Montana as young as 10 years old. However, sending your kids to the program and “hoping things will go well,” is not enough.  We believe it is critical that you attend the program with your child. Whether you believe in possessing firearms or not, if you live in Montana, your kids will encounter firearms.  It is just a fact. We believe that your attendance at hunter’s safety should not be optional (although it is).  It is critical that you know what your kid knows about firearms and, importantly, what they do not know about firearms.  Ignorance is not an option when it comes to this issue in this state.  If you are a transplant from another state and your family did not own a firearm, these classes are a good opportunity to educate yourself on firearm safety.

Here is a list of links to just some of the many opportunities you have to educate your children on proper firearm use and safety: