Gun safety: a lesson for all ages

Natalia Hawthorne of Hoover Tactical Firearms taught Prepared, Not Scared campers about gun safety at Oak Mountain State Park on June 12. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

Natalia Hawthorne of Hoover Tactical Firearms taught Prepared, Not Scared campers about gun safety at Oak Mountain State Park on June 12. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—“Stop, don’t touch, go get an adult,” a group of fourth through seventh grade campers repeated with Natalia Hawthorne of Hoover Tactical Firearms.

On June 12, Hoover Tactical Firearms led Prepared, Not Scared campers in an interactive gun safety class at Oak Mountain State Park. Campers had a range of experience with guns, some had gone hunting, some had been to shooting ranges and some had never seen a gun before. The class aimed to teach the campers what to do if they find a gun in a variety of scenarios, from coming across one at home to seeing a gun on the street.

“Always treat a gun like it’s loaded,” Hawthorne said, underscoring the importance of leaving a found gun alone. “You don’t need to be scared of (guns), they won’t hurt you if you don’t touch them.”

Kerry Bradley, general manager of Hoover Tactical Firearms, explained while the main purpose of the day was to teach kids “don’t touch (the gun) and get an adult they know,” the class was also intended to address “curiosity” and take away some of the mystery surrounding firearms through supplying campers with accurate information.

Through the use of training guns, plastic models that do not fire, Hawthorne and Bradley demonstrated the proper way to handle a gun, stressing they are “not toys,” and to never point them in the direction of people.

“Keep it pointed in a safe direction, which is down,” Hawthorne told the campers as they passed around the training guns, instructing them to keep their finger off of the trigger and keep the gun pointed at the ground.

Hawthorne and Bradley also brought along a variety of real ammunition, from shotgun shells to 9 millimeter bullets, to explain the mechanics behind firing a gun.

“This was my first (gun safety class),” camper Mar Perez said, adding she has never seen a real gun before. “It was interesting.”

The gun safety lesson was part of the larger safety and survival theme of Prepared, Not Scared camp, which covers everything from wilderness survival to Internet safety.

“We have snakes at 1 p.m.,” Verna Gates, founder and executive director of Fresh Air Family, said. “We’re teaching (the campers) what’s venomous and what’s not.”