Photos posted to an Airdrie Facebook group are creating controversy online, but they’re also sparking a conversation on gun safety and over how young is too young to be exposed to guns.
The photos are of a toddler holding a gun with the caption “wow we taught our two and a half year old how to shoot today. He did great.”
The mom behind the photo said her son Jaxson wanted to play with the older boys who were shooting gophers at an acreage, so they gave him a broken BB gun.
“He was having a blast.”
“He didn’t really think anything of it, except the pew noises,” Cindy O’Hara said.
O’Hara said she posted the photos to Facebook to gauge reaction and many comments were positive.
“Children should learn how to use a gun if there are guns in the household. They should be taught gun safety,” Facebook user Ashley Reid commented.
“I think at this age starting to instill the importance of gun safety is important,” Pat Johnstone wrote.
However other users were not so receptive.
“I think this is so wrong,” said Stephanie Thompson. “I think 2.5 is way too young to have such a dangerous weapon. This age they cannot grasp what is right and wrong… an accident waiting to happen.”
O’Hara admitted her son is too young to appreciate the dangers.
“He doesn’t get the reality that a gun can kill somebody.”
“But it was in fun and it was an experience for him because we will teach him how to shoot, absolutely,” O’Hara said.
At the Calgary Shooting Centre, the president said children should be taught that firearms can be dangerous at the earliest opportunity.
“Personally, I had my daughter shooting a .22 calibre rifle when she was four years old,” James Bachynsky, president of the Calgary Shooting Centre, said. “She could shoot it very well and she knew all the rules.
“That doesn’t mean though that I allowed her to handle firearms unsupervised.”
There’s no federal or provincial age limit on attempting to shoot a gun, but people have to be 18 years old to get a full gun license in order to purchase and possess a firearm.
The Airdrie RCMP confirmed it received a complaint about the photos and is investigating, but said there’s nothing illegal about the photos.