SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - It's a rite of passage in many families here in Southwest Louisiana: giving your child their first gun for Christmas. But, a gift of this magnitude comes with extreme responsibility.
"People assume when they gift someone something, they automatically know how to use it," said Sgt. John Reddin, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. "Before that firearm is gifted, I'd say put them through some sort of classes or educate them."
Reddin advises parents of children who are new to handling guns to follow three simple rules:
"Never point a weapon you never intend to shoot or destroy and treat every weapon as if it were loaded," said Reddin. "Never put your finger on the trigger until you intend to fire."
He said it's paramount that parents stow firearms in a gun safe; the child should know where the weapon is kept, too.
"If you're hiding a weapon throughout the house and it's not done so in a safe manner, a kid will find it regardless," said Reddin.
Reddin wants families of young shooters to make sure a strict set of rules is established, so accidents are prevented. More importantly, parents need to know how to sufficiently and safely operate weapons systems before gifting a firearm to a child.
"When someone doesn't understand how a firearm works, that's when accidents are happening," said Reddin.