Be SMART: Step Two - Model Responsible Behavior
by the Rev. Mary Haggerty,
Diocesan Missioner for Gun Violence Prevention
October 9, 2023
The second step in the Be SMART program is M: Model Responsible Behavior. Every law-abiding adult has the right to decide whether or not to have a gun in the home. But, you can’t rely on curious kids not to find a gun.
Kids know where their parents store their guns, and more than one-third reported handling their parents’ guns, many doing so without the knowledge of their parents—Nearly a quarter of parents did not know that their children had handled the gun in their house.
It is always an adult’s responsibility to prevent unauthorized access to guns, not a curious child’s responsibility to avoid guns. Talk to your kids about gun safety, but remember that’s a precaution, not a guarantee. One study found that young children who go through a week-long gun safety training are just as likely as children with no training to approach or play with a handgun when they find one.
Modeling responsible behavior means that SMART adults make sure that kids don’t have the opportunity to access guns.
That said, you can’t control the environment that your child is in all the time, so you should teach them not to touch a gun if they come across one, real or pretend, and give them the tools to get out of a dangerous situation, and to alert an adult. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to prevent them from getting in a dangerous situation.
 Frances Baxley and Matthew Miller, “Parental Misperceptions About Children and Firearms,” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 160, no. 5 (2006): 542–47, https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.160.5.542.