Shooting prompts questions about kids and gun safety

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The tragic shooting in Cumberland County, where a five-year-old accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister, has stirred a range of emotions. However, one common question that's been raised is "how young is too young?"

For Matthew Crum and his little sister, Audrey, shooting a gun with dad can be fun but it's also a big responsibility.

"Treat them with proper respect, they are not a toy," repeated Crum, who has heard the lesson many times from his father.

They know that, and their dad is careful to help them handle the gun safely. But, again, how young is too young?

Matthew is eight, Audrey is five.

"You can't teach safety too young and youngsters understand it," said Boone Logan, a shooting instructor and leader in the local chapter of the Boy Scouts.

"You can't start them too young but they've got to want to learn," added Mark Horman, another scout leader, who teaches safety with BB guns. Horman went on to suggest first grade may be the best time to start teaching children, he says that's when they begin young scouts on the safety techniques with the BB gun.

These shooting instructors go on to say a lot of children can be drawn to guns, even if they aren't around in the house.

"I've heard parents talk about, you know, they don't allow firearms in the house, but a boy will pick up a stick!" said Logan.

From an early age the Crums, they've have been taught the same safety rules and they, too, started on something simple, like a BB gun.

"Whenever you hold a gun make sure it's on safety," instructed Matthew.

Audrey's gun is a pink "Cricket" .22 caliber rifle. It's designed for kids and even comes in a box with a cartoon cricket on it, but it's not a toy and she knows that.

She was asked what the most important rule is when it comes to being around a gun, Audrey answered, "When someone is around do not pick it up."

Just like dad taught her.

"If you treat every firearm as if it's loaded then you should always be safe," stated Logan, who is also NRA (National Rifle Association) certified.

These teachers say children are already exposed to guns on TV and in video games, so they feel that if you help kids understand the safety rules, now, then they'll grow up knowing them.

"Yep, treat them (toys and real guns) all the same," summed up Matthew.

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