A gun range in Miami is offering a “Kids Shoot Free” promotion to encourage firearms use by children as young as eight.
"We want parents and children to come in here and learn together, especially if they have never been exposed to this, to take away the negativity or tackle some of those taboos or apprehension they might have," Martin Cardenal, managing partner of Stone Hart's Gun Club and Indoor Gun Range said to Local 10 News in Miami.
The gun-wielding youngsters must be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian to get the free lesson. The lessons are open to kids from eight to 17 years of age.
In 2010 alone, statistics show that 15,576 children and teenagers suffered firearms injuries. That’s more than three times the number of injuries suffered by American soldiers in Afghanistan to that point.
"We see guns as much of a threat in their life as we used to see bacteria and viruses," Dr. Judith S. Palfrey, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told USA Today. "If you look at what's actually killing children and disabling children, guns is one of the major things."
Cardenal, however, said the purpose of the free lessons is to “teach kids to respect guns and handle them safely.”
"I'm in the health care profession and I hear all the bad things that have happened,” Shenny Cordero, a parent whose 16-year-old daughter Kristen takes the free lessons, told Local 10 News. “I don't want my daughter to be scared of it.”
Not all parents in the Miami area are as enthusiastic about putting guns in the hands of kids, even in the guise of education.
"Kids are not the ones who are meant to be defending themselves, either in their families or at schools. That's an adult job," said Maggie Macaulay, founder of Whole Hearted Parenting. "When we grew up, my dad had a gun. It was totally off limits to us."
Cardenal also described the free lessons as, “an opportunity for parents, who are responsible gun enthusiasts, to share bonding moments with their children.”
SOURCES: Local 10 News, USA Today, Ammoland