A Family Affair: Gun safety becomes the priority for several families

Now more than ever gun safety is a priority for families and they are seeking advice from experts here in Southeast Texas.

BEAUMONT - Its the sound that will make you jump. The sound of a gunshot. However, its a familiar sound for Roxanne and Mikela Hellberg.

The mother and daughter are learning how to handle guns properly for their own good. "Things have changed and when you used to feel like you can just walk into a coffee shop and be okay. I don't feel safe anymore." said Roxanne.

The Hellbergs have had firearms at home for years but Roxanne says now more than ever, is the time for her 13-year-old daughter to learn to use them safely.

"She is getting to that age where she's out on her own and can't have a gun necessarily out but at home and with everything going on in the world, I just want her to be extra safe." Roxanne said. 

That's where firearm safety instructor Stephen Watson comes into the picture. "For the young kids, the parent wants the child to know how to be safe in the presence of a firearm because the parent is choosing to have a firearm in the home." Watson told 12News.

Watson says gun sales across the country are at record levels which means more families are purchasing firearms.

However, not all of them get trained to use them the right way or at the right age.

"There are so many ways to secure a firearm to prevent a child or someone who shouldn't have access to that gun from getting access to it." Watson said. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, so far this year, hundreds of children have become victims of gun violence:

  • Number of Children (age 0-11) 
  • Killed or injured 606
  • Number of Teens (age 12-17)
  • Killed or injured 2,748

Earlier this year a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head in a Beaumont neighborhood. Luckily, he survived. In August, another incident left a 4-year-old in the hospital after grabbing a gun and shooting himself in the arm.

Watson tells 12News children have to be physically and emotionally mature to handle a firearm. His youngest student was 11-years-old.

He also says parents who have children as young as Pre-k can start training them verbally by showing them what to do and what not to do if a gun is inside a household.

Parents can enforce these gun accident prevention rules by the National Riffle Association:

  • Stop
  • Don't Touch
  • Leave the area
  • Tell a grown-up 

13-year-old Mikela says she is learning every technique from Watson so that she can spend time with her father who loves to hunt.

"I feel lots of energy every time I go shoot and its really fun. Its relaxing" Mikela said.

For more information about gun safety classes in Beaumont, log on here: http://train2shoot.net/

 

(© 2016 KBMT)


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