Classes aim to teach children about gun safety

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - In 2017, a child died because of an accidental shooting, whether at the hands of their own or another child's, at least every other day.

The tragic accidents often happen with handguns and are more likely to occur on weekends or around the holidays.

Classes are now being offered where young children learn how to properly handle and fire handguns.

Brody Risen, a third-grader, attended his a "First Shots" class.

"I like this," said Brody.

The classes are designed for children as young as 8.

The goal of the lesson is to teach gun safety while satisfying a child's curiosity about firearms.

"I think the younger you are, the more you're comfortable with it around 'em, the better they are to handle them," said Paul Risen, Brody's father.

Frontier Justice, out of Kansas City, is also exposing minors to guns. The group offers gun-themed birthday parties, like a "Sweet 16" at a gun range.

Psychologist Sherry Hamby is studying the impact of guns on children.

"Impulse control and maturity and cognitive capacity are all somewhat different things," said Hamby. "The more we know about brain development, the more you would really have to say-mid 20s.

Julvonnia and Byron McDowell lost their 14-year-old son in 2016. His 13-year-old cousin accidentally shot and killed him at a relative's house, with an unsecured handgun that he thought was unloaded.

"Even if they go through safety classes, that's not going to prevent them from saying, 'Look what I can do.' And just that quick, life can change," said Julvonnia.

Kids can eventually move on to the more advanced classes, like "Second Shots," which teaches how to fire both handguns and rifles.

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