KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Whether it is for range shooting, hunting or home defense, there’s no shortage of guns in East Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reveals there are more than 100,000 handgun carry permit holder in East Tennessee, which amounts to about a fourth of all permit holders in the entire state of Tennessee.That doesn’t even include the people that don’t have a handgun carry permit.
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The Center for Disease Control found between 2007 and 2011 an average of 62 children, age 14 and under, died each year from unintentional shootings. An estimated 660 kids were hospitalized each year with non-fatal, unintentional shooting injuries. They believe many of the unintentional shootings could’ve been prevented, which is why they now recommend gun safety to parents.
Teaching gun safety to kids is something Rod Snider, a parent of four kids, has been preaching for years. “Gun safety is a must, it really is,” he said.
When his kids first started crawling and walking, Snider said he kept his guns put up, but when they started asking what the guns were he started talking to them about safety.
“Teaching your kids about gun safety is very important,” said Eric Parish, owner of Frontier Firearms in Kingston. He said he sees a lot of people interested in getting their first gun.
Parish said on a weekly basis he gets new shooters into his shop that have young children. That is why he decided to offer a variety of education and safety courses.
During the classes Parish uses several fake guns and fake bullets to teach little ones to “stop,” “don’t touch, leave the area” and “tell an adult,” a popular lesson from the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle safety program for kids. He recommends talking to kids about gun safety as early as three to four years. One children get a little older and get past the “don’t touch” aspect of gun safety, Parish recommends taking them to the range for more advanced gun safety lessons.
“We teach them ‘don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot,’ ‘treat the gun as if it’s always loaded,'” said Parish. “They can understand things like that as they get older, where as when they’re younger — three, four, or five — they may not grasp that concert.”
At the end of the lesson older kids are allowed to actually pull the trigger, which Parish said is a good teaching tool. “To actually be able to put your hands on it takes away a little of that curiosity that they just want to pick it up and fumble with it,” he said.
Gun safety classes
There are many safety gun courses offered in East Tennessee. Many gun shops offer them, sometimes for a fee. You can also find free courses sometimes offered at Bass Pro Shops and other locations throughout the area.
Frontier Firearms, LLC, Kingston, TN
Offers a co-ed handgun class and a women only handgun class for ages 10 to adult. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. To sign up for a class stop by their store, call (865) 376-0793 or sign up online.
Windrock Shooting Range, Oliver Springs, TN
Offers youth safety, private safety and family safety classes. Call (865) 805-5970 to sign up for a class.
Offers hunter education classes free of charge to children ages nine or older. For a list of classes visit TWRA’s website.