Children and Guns in America: Where Have We Gone Wrong?

By Guest Blogger Kimberley Blaine

Taking a LITTLE girl to a shooting range? To shoot a gun that shoots 600 rounds a minute? I’m speechless because this is all COMPLETELY ABSURD. Don’t we want our little girls to learn which sport is healthy and best for them? Don’t we want them to learn about their connection to this peaceful earth?

Most 9 year olds are reading fun books, ice skating, playing piano or soccer or kicking a ball in the street and so forth. This type of object, which is a killing machine, an unnecessary type of gun to be at a public shooting range, was put in the hands of an innocent little child who had so much to look forward to in life. This trauma will now part of her thought process/autonomic nervous system and will be a life long coping process.

Did this have to happen? That is the real question. My dad took me to a shooting range at 12 years old – he wanted me to be proficient at handling guns. All it did was make me fantasize how I could use it on the girls at school who bullied me.

Mental health is key. I’m a sharp shooter. My father taught me well. No matter how much I knew, and how much supervision I had, when girls bullied me in Jr. high school, my “new” knowledge of just how to use these guns kicked in. You can teach kids to shoot, but you’ll never be able to know their mental health status as they grow into the teen years. I knew how to use our household weapons – and that they were always loaded. I’m sure my father too told everyone how proud he was that I could use a gun… but the day I picked it up after being beaten by some girls at school and felt the heaviness of a loaded gun, I put it down. Had I not been exposed at that level, I would have never considered a family weapon as a solution to ridding my bullies who pushed me around in school.

Youth should not be exposed or encouraged to use weapons that kill living things. That poor man who died at the hands of a 9 year old girl… he was such dedicated instructor… he didn’t even know the realities of working with children. They all make mistakes… and often.

About Kimberley Clayton Blaine

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Kimberley Blaine, MA, LMFT, has been named one of the most powerful moms in social media by Working Mother Magazine and one of the coolest power Moms in L.A. and featured on Mom.Me’s Favorite 50 Blogger List. She is the executive producer of the Go-To MomTM web series – She is an inspirational speaker, family mental health advocate and digitial media pioneer. The Go-To Mom life style shows were designed to address the overall mental health & well-being of mothers and was one of the first grass-roots web series launched in 2006. Kimberley is a licensed therapist (LMFT), author and healthy lifestyle expert. She also contributes to the soul healing site of – and is contributer to 3M’s Post-it Note brand. Kimberley is a founding partner of MomPulse.TV, the fastest growing YouTube networks for moms owned by Fullscreen. She is the author The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children. Her spokesperson work includes: Lego Duplo, Disney Consumer Products, Schick Intuition, and Sony Electronics digital imaging and DreamsWork Animation. She has made a commitment to educate and advocate for families with young kids. Kimberley is currently the Social Marketing Director for a Los Angeles based Early Childhood Mental Health Campaign (Project ABC) funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA).She has launched a national campaign to help American parents be all that they can be in order to give their children a healthy and fair start. Her original webshow, TheGoToMom.TV has captured one of the largest growing niche audiences — parents who have children birth to seven, through professionally produced yet authentic and real educational videos.

Watch Kimberley’s Video with Vice President Joe Biden on Reducing Gun Violence:

Kimberley is also my very good friend.

Would love your thoughts on this horrific tragedy and guns in America.


  1. I am from Canada and our laws are different. A gun should not even be allowed in the hands of a 9 year old!! This is absurd to me. A horrific tragedy.

  2. I take the most issue with the “instructor” here more rather than the parents. The family was from NJ, a well-known anti-gun state, so it’s highly likely they had no idea what they were dealing with and trusted the “instructor”. The instructor played with fire trying to look cool, show them a good time, or just make money for the range. In either case he pushed her too far too fast and was burned for it. This doesn’t mean children are incapable of handling firearms. Youtube is full of videos of children who are more than adept at handling them given the correct circumstances and proper training. Your father taught you in the correct fashion- not exposing you to too much too quickly which was this instructor’s and parent’s mistake. I myself was learning to shoot when I was 8 and was shooting competitively at 10 all in the manner that my age/experience allowed because my father was experienced and knew how to teach effectively.

    Hell, even a founding father would take issue of your soccer-over-guns idea. “As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independance to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” ~Thomas Jefferson

    What concerns me most is “All it did was make me fantasize how I could use it on the girls at school who bullied me.” This is pretty unbalanced mentality, and shows me your parents didn’t instill a very good set of morals and ethics in you if your first response is violence and death. If you’ve overcome those urges then good for you, but otherwise you are the exact person who should not be around firearms, whether you’re a “sharp shooter” or not.

  3. I feel that parents should talk to their children about the dangers of guns. Many kids grow up thinking that guns are just toys or base their information on what they see in the movies. It is up to the parents to educate their kids. I don’t allow many toy guns into my house because I want my kids to know that they are weapons and not toys. Of course, my youngest who doesn’t even have a toy gun knows how to shoot with his finger. We tell them that guns hurt people and that we are supposed to love others.

  4. There is nothing wrong with teaching kids how to shoot. Some families have a strong history of hunting. But this was just wrong on so many levels.

  5. What about women who are smaller and physically weaker than most men? What about one man against a group of attackers or a smaller man against a larger? Or the elderly against a younger attacker? Sure, hand to hand defensive training can and does help, but do you expect everyone to have the same physical prowess? In the case of everyone being trained in hand to hand combat, what about those that are unable to train such as those with physical disabilities or debilitating disease?

    I fear you have not followed through to the logical conclusion with your belief.

  6. Being adept at handling the gun is not at all the same as having mature judgment. Most teens do not have mature judgment when it comes to handling a car. We do not allow 9 year olds to drive, even really tall ones whose feet might reach the pedals and who might be very coordinated. It is not about ability. Nor is it even just about mental health. It is about judgment. Even many adults are woefully deficient, especially if they get nervous, are challenged or fearful. Your questioning of the author’s fantasy shows how out of touch with the very normal psyche of many children. And the more we teach (through gun promotion and modeling) that it is a good thing to defend or protect yourself with a gun, the more likely that fantasy will take root in even more people. I tend to doubt that fantasy exists in the more civilized, gun-free nations.

    Using founding fathers in this dialogue is absurd. They had no idea of what our society would become; guns used in those days were used for completely different purposes than the reasons they are being sold and used today. Baseball and soccer had not been invented, nor had myriad other athletic and exercise opportunities.

  7. How often have you been attacked? I can’t help but think all of this is speculation and fear about stuff that just does not happen too often. I was robbed at gunpoint. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had attempted to pull a gun out, I would be dead. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had even tried to fight back, I would be dead. If they had found a gun in my purse, it is highly likely that if they did not use it on me, it would be another stolen weapon in the hands of a criminal. My son was jumped by a group of teens when he was a teen himself. Had any one of those kids had a gun, my son included, someone would be dead or severely injured. As it was, my son dropped or was knocked to the ground and endured a punch or two and the kids ran away when it was not a challenge for them. His pride was hurt, his knee slightly injured. He is alive and mentally sound twenty years later.

  8. The main issue I have with this commentary is the focus on “girls.” Do we really want to teach little boys to shoot? Wouldn’t it also be better to teach them about engaging in healthy sports and activities, teaching peace, rather than violence and the use of killing machines?

  9. An Excellent commentary.
    Using a gun, especially a powerful one, is not like playing ball. It is inherently dangerous and lethal. A person must be physically and mentally capable of using it, and ready to assume the risk of death to themselves and those around them. A nine year old doesn’t meet ANY of those requirements.

  10. In order to recruit hunters, states are seeking to allow ever younger people to kill wildlife. Seriously you can find videos online of 4 year olds shooting and killing deer filmed by their proud papas. In one that I remember, the child somberly looks at the dead deer and asks if it can be alive again. The father says no its dead, you killed it.
    Heart wrenching.

  11. You are so right Tina. There are very few incidents in which a crime victim is able to defend herself with a gun. It does happen, but it it is rare.

  12. I grew up on a farm. I was driving not only standard cars by 12, but heavy machinery by 13 legally (Ag Permit). Children, much like adults, adapt to their situation. Your opinion on how much a kid can handle is skewed by the coddling and overprotection that is employed over our modern children, perhaps even yourself. Considering less than a century ago kids that age were working in coal mines, farms, etc to support their family because of the Depression or the Wars I really doubt you know little more about children other than what Oprah’s told you. Your faith in them is obviously weak at best.

    “Using founding fathers in this dialogue is absurd.”

    Why? They were far wiser than many “experts” and certainly politicians of our day.

    “They had no idea of what our society would become; guns used in those days were used for completely different purposes than the reasons they are being sold and used today.”

    Now THIS is absurdity. How were guns used differently? There’s only three ways to use a firearm- killing (offensive or defensive), hunting, and sport. How is that any different from then to today? The modernity of the gun has no bearing on how it’s used.

    “Baseball and soccer had not been invented, nor had myriad other athletic and exercise opportunities.”

    Soccer hadn’t been invented yet?! The founders weren’t cave men; 200 years ago wasn’t the stone age. Rugby, soccer, hockey, bowling, lacrosse, and cricket all in some form were long established sports by 1800. Sweet Jesus open a history book!

  13. Yes, your point is a good one. I focused on girls, as this story was related to the story about the Arizona incident 😉 All children need to be exposed to healthy sports and all the other things you mentioned. Thanks for the comment.

  14. As Aaron Gouveia wrote yesterday in his TIMES article about the many risks involved with letting a 9-year-old fire a machine gun, “Please stop referencing the 2nd amendment, because I’m certain our Founding Fathers weren’t contemplating the benefits of letting children fire hundreds of rounds per minute when they drafted the right to bear arms. As I wrote in the post above we can’t evaluate the mental health status of children or teens. So why even take the risk? Let’s agree that we need to keep machine guns and all guns out of the hands of children… what parent wouldn’t want to support that? The system isn’t working… if we don’t all come together to take a stand we’ll continue to read things like this as well. “Kindergartener brings gun to school”…/kindergarten_loaded_gun… oh and things like this too. 5 yr old shoots little sister.…/01/us/kentucky-accidential-shooting/

  15. Erica, Thank you for having the courage to post my commentary above and encourage this very important discussion. This is the one topic I will not be silent about… I was raised in NRA household and now that I have kids and I specialize in the mental health field I need to speak up. xxoo Erica.

  16. I’m with you, but since my 2nd boy was obsessed with our family history of vets, we did let him get his fair share of toy weapons… I did a video about this and how little children may perceive them … they older they get they understand why the military has them… See video, “Weapon and Superhero Play: Good or Bad?:

  17. I grew up on a farm. I was driving not only standard cars by 12, but heavy machinery by 13 legally (Ag Permit).

    Yes, an Ag permit. That doesn’t let you drive on the highways or parkways or common roads which is what she(Tina) means. Also, 12 is not 9. There are vast developmental and cognitive differences between a 9 year old and a 12 year old. Also, a combine doesn’t do 90mph. A simple analogy would be tractor=bolt action rifle, Uzi-Lambourghini. I shot my first .22 at scout camp under supervision. I wasn’t allowed to shoot trap with the shotguns as I was too young. Those were BSA rules. Rules based on common sense of size to power ratios of the weapon. Clearly this range gives to f**ks about common sense, the only “coddling” they chose to partake of was coddling the family’s gun fetish power fantasy.

    An 18 year old was just in a fatal crash when he was invited to drive another older person’s sports car home because the older man was too drunk. The Lambo isn’t a Nissan, or even a corvette. It’s not for the unlearned, the uninitiated or the unable. Like, say an Isreali submachine gun.

  18. This fear of being attacked in a dark alley by a gunman is just so much romanticized cowboy fantasy. Most home invasions happen when the people aren’t home. Mostly, I see gun nuts now walking around with loaded guns to flout their 2nd Amendment rights, such as they perceive them to be. You know who else likes to walk around town strapping guns? ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah….

  19. I also began to practice shooting at a young age (8-9) and I have no idea how that can be considered a bad thing. The more time that you are trained with and exposed to firearms the safer they will be in your hands. In elementary school I was bullied as well but I never thought that a gun would be the answer to any of that even though I did have access. Guns are tools that must be respected and mentally sound individuals young and old are capable of that.

  20. Mitch,
    I do agree there is a lot of coddling today and yes, to a great extent that is what I am basing my assessment of maturity and seasoning on. But we live TODAY not 100 years ago. COULD children be more adult-like?– possibly. But they aren’t. Now. Girls got married at age 16 or even younger sometimes two centuries ago. Now we do not believe that is a “good” thing. I got married at 19 and happened to have been very mature – always – as a kid. And it worked for me. But that is not the case for most. Today. Now. I also suggest a big difference with the founding fathers and today’s world. The actual “uses” for guns are the same, yes. But the reasons the NRA and manufacturers and gun-proponents sell them are not. I truly doubt the founding fathers would approve the fear-mongering, hyper-violent, shoot first, ask questions later approach. I agree – they were, from what we can tell, largely very thoughtful. And it is amusing that these men are so frequently “called as a resource” when it comes to guns and yet not when it comes to religion and separation of church and state. You need to put the whole picture together to understand what the founding fathers were all about. That is another topic, but their worldview is relevant. In any case, I never read a story about a founding father going to a burger (or venison) and bullets shooting range for a playful pastime or vacation. That is the difference.

  21. As both a parent and a veteran, well qualified to fire a wide variety of semi and fully automatic weapons, I was appalled by this tragedy. What in the name of all that is decent were these parents, and the weapons instructor thinking?

    This is a tragedy that should have been prevented. The NRA SHOULD have denounced this as a bad decision on the part of the parents and the instructor, both of whom should have known better, but they did not. Instead every gun nut out there doubled down on the stupidity and the NRA even tripled down on it with the release of a video showing how “fun” it is to go shooting.

    Now I am not opposed to firearms ownership, but these people have taken it to a level of crazy that even terrorists do not reach. A nine year old is struggling enough to fire a .22, let alone a fully automatic 9mm military firearm which I have seen a trained and exceptionally strong soldier lose control of at the range.

    Now, this little girl will have the rest of her life to live with the fact that, through no reasonable fault of her own, she has killed another human being. I do hope that she gets help to deal with it or her young life will be ruined forever.

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