Young guns: A WAFF 48 News special report

By Eric Sollman - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Can putting guns in your kid's hands keep gun violence from getting out of hand? Stuart Goldsby, a Regional Hunting Safety Instructor for North Alabama says it can.

"It's not whether or not they'll actually use one, but educating them on the safe handling of one," said Goldsby. "If they ever do get in contact with a fire arm then they know how to safely handle it or stay away."

Goldsby and others in the realm of firearms safety teach teens and others how to safely handle a gun. They fire guns to feel the reaction and to remove fascination.

Cassandra Bradford paints a different view of kids and guns. Police say her 16-year-old cousin Malik Bradford died at the hands of another teen. No charges were filed.

"They thought the safety was on. They were trying to get the last bullet out, that's what was told to the family," said Bradford.

Bradford says she had to identify the Malik's body. To this day, she doesn't know exactly what happened.

"It's very dangerous and I don't know how he got it in his hand and it's very sad."

Several students, around Malik's age, at Madison County Tech School are learning how to study, aim and fire.

"My main concern is just the main safety of the weapon. I want to know my weapon before I want to go and shoot it by myself," said Michael McBroom, a high school sophomore.

"Everyone needs to know how to use a firearm, unload it and make it safe," said Tech School Instructor Tom Hardy.

This could include young adults who aren't exposed to guns in their own homes. 

"Maybe their parents can make sure they don't get near a gun, but what if they go to somebody's house? Kids are very inquisitive, they will go look at things and they've done studies. The first thing the kid is going to do is pull the trigger," said Hunter Education Instructor Bill Kerlin.

For many of these students, this is their first shot. Others, like high school sophomore David Doumar are very experienced for their age.

"The first time I shot a gun, I was probably three. It was a little 22 pistol and I've been shooting ever since," said Doumar.

Doumar knows the basics. Always assume the gun is loaded, and always know where the end of the barrel is pointed.

"Once you pull the trigger, you can never take it back," he added.

A split second decision can become a harsh reality for families like Cassandra Bradford's.

"I don't think kids should have them at all. I'm against that 100 percent," said Bradford.

But Goldsby says a lot of people think kids are the problem with firearms.

"An adult can be just as problematic," he said. "It's just a tool. Someone has to learn how to use a hammer, or drive a car. You have to learn how to use a fire arm so that you're successful with it. It's just a safe life skill that anyone can use."

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