Health + Safety

Should Kids Learn How To Handle Guns?

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Many parents would like to keep there children as far away from guns as possible, but a growing number of parents are taking their children to gun ranges where they are handed guns and given permission to take aim and fire away.

The National Rifle Association and other gun industry-sponsored organizations pour tens of millions of dollars into youth shooting programs nationwide. Nearly four million youths attended a training program that followed the NRA’s guidelines in 2012, up two million from 2008, the NRA said.

Nikki Jones who leads a women’s-only shooting league Austin Sure Shots, ran a Little Girls Youth Training program. The training program is essentially a gun school for kids, a growing trend of gun organizations.

“When you teach kids that young, you take the mystery out of the gun, and it’s a really valid thing to do,” Jones tells ABC News. “We don’t teach them to shoot around barricades. We don’t teach them to clear rooms. We don’t teach them what happens in a carjacking.”

Jones adds that she was taught to shoot as a child and is convinced that with the right training, children can safely handle a firearm.

But critics are questioning whether placing a lethal weapon in the hands of a child, even under adult supervision and with training, is a smart thing to do.

“Kids are impulsive, and you can’t teach that out of a kid,” said Dr. Denise Dowd. “You can teach them, they can ‘parrot’ back, they can show you how safe they are, they can load it, they can clean it. But they should not be in independent control of that weapon because they’re impulsive because they’re children.”

Dowd, who practices at the Kansas City Children’s hospital argues that a child’s brain is not mature enough to be trusted with firearms because of lack of impulse control and underdeveloped critical thinking skills.

She also notes that at her hospital alone there are 30 to 50 cases annually of gun-related kid tragedies that, she said, are entirely preventable.

“No child exercises good judgment. Any parent knows that,” she said. “It doesn’t take a medical degree to be able to, you know, tell anybody that is that you don’t trust your kids 100 percent of the time, especially when it comes to something that is so high risk, right?”

Head over to ABC News for the full story and tell us what you think.

(Photo Credit: B_Miller/Thinkstock)