When I was a kid, I received my dad’s old hunting rifle for Christmas. “Gold Trigger” so named because the trigger was a golden color, was one of the coolest gifts my dad ever gave me, but it was more than just a gun, it was a coming of age gift.
My dad was telling me that in his eyes, he thought I was becoming a man. It’s a very special moment for a boy.
But the great thing about getting a gun for Christmas wasn’t just the fact that I was getting a gun, I was also getting instructions and a mission. The mission was to use the firearm to hunt and acquire food for our family. That, in and of itself, is a very important thing because it places an ancient responsibility on your shoulders and one that many boys want to have. To provide.
But the instructions are also worth their weight in gold.
Of course, they’re important because they teach a child how to properly use and maintain a gun. It allows you to teach them gun safety, storage, and more. But that lesson has a deeper meaning as well. When my dad handed me a gun he told me, point-blank, that what I was holding was a weapon of destruction. Its purpose is to kill, and that this thing that could decide what lives and what dies was now in my care.
I think the meaning of that kind of moment has been lost to most in today’s society. The responsibility of death is something we don’t really have to interact with much. Even in states like Texas, I run into a lot of people who tell me that they’ve never owned a gun, much less fired one. I’ve always considered that a sort of education one is unfortunate to lack.
Being able to hold the power of death in your hand brings many feelings. Elation at the fact that you have something so destructive (though that may be just a boy thing) but also fear for the exact same reason. If the teacher is wise, the moment a gun is handed over is something of a happy but sobering moment. All the responsibility leads to a lesson on mindfulness. If the teacher is wise, it also leads to a lesson on mercy and gratefulness.
I was taught a few lessons thanks to a gun. For one, that the power of life and death isn’t to be taken lightly. A quick hunting trip where you’re tasked with pulling the trigger and killing something is a good life lesson on just what you have the power to do. You’re taught to get the best shot possible and be sure about your shot, because if you’re not and the bullet strays, it may not kill your quarry and you will have caused great, unneeded suffering.
The gratefulness is two-fold and a very important part of these lessons. For one, you killed something in order that it benefits you and your family. It died so that you could live. It’s a sad thing, but this is the world we live in. You should be grateful for what you hunted for helping you continue. The gratitude puts some things into perspective. You’re the apex predator at the top of the food chain and have been gifted that position by a power you can’t quite comprehend, but you’re still part of the chain. You need these things you hunt, and that gratitude extends to caring for these things you kill.
I want to make it clear that if you have zero experience with firearms or hunting that you don’t get your child a firearm, but you don’t necessarily avoid guns either. Go purchase one and find an instructor to teach you how to use it. Find someone who can teach you to hunt and clean your kills and go on a few by yourself.
Once you’re versed in it, pass that knowledge down to your kids and encourage them to do the same. There’s a lot of good that can come from it. These lessons, I feel, are worth learning. They not only help shape a young mind but teach lessons that go beyond just hunting. The appreciation and responsibility one learns toward guns may one day save the life of someone.
Our society today drills the idea that danger is a bad thing, and rest assured, it can be, but when you really break down what danger is, you find that it’s neither good nor bad. Danger is a neutral thing. A police officer or a scalpel is dangerous, but that’s the point of them. When trouble rears its head, you want someone or something dangerous to come to assist you. When you require surgery, that unbelievably sharp knife that could carve you to pieces is the same one that will save your life.
Teach your child the responsibility of danger.