BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia ranks fifth in the nation for gun ownership, the Pew Research Center reports.
There are anywhere from 200 to 350 million firearms in the United States, according to World Population Review statistics. In southern West Virginia, about 58 percent of families have a gun in the house.
On January 6, 2023, according to Newport News, Virginia police, a 6-year-old student brought a handgun to their classroom and shot the teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner. Police also allege the shooting was intentional. Authorities also said the handgun belonged to the childs mother, and the mother could face charges.
This, makes many parents wonder at what age is it appropriate to teach their kids about firearms and proper safety.
Ronnie Wood, owner of Flat Top Arms in Beckley, sells child-sized firearms. He said on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, that he grew up with guns and passed his love of firearms to his children and, now, his grandchildren. Firing guns is a way of bonding in his family. But he offered firm advice on firearm responsibility to the children in his family, he said.
“I say, ‘When you pull the trigger, you fire this gun, the bullet goes out,’” Wood said. “And you can’t put it back. Wherever that bullet went, you’re responsible for it. Whatever it does, you did that. You’re the one responsible for that.”
He advised his children to never aim a gun at someone or something they did not intend to destroy, he added.
Raleigh County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brian Parsons said state law does not currently hold parents criminally responsible if a child uses the parent’s gun to commit a crime against an adult.
Jamie Blume of the Beckley Police Department, who trains officers and serves as range master at the city’s firing range, says parents should still, generally, keep their firearms away from children.
“We need to encourage kids to understand that a gun is a deadly tool, and there are major consequences if they misuse that tool,” Blume said. “They are tools, but we have to give them the appropriate level of respect. Access is huge. Again, kids don’t need to have access to that.”
Blume also emphasized children need lessons about how to stay safe and keep others safe around firearms.