He's a dad who also happens to be a training junkie. He writes articles about bringing up a child around firearms, and the considerations that one needs to make to do it safely while raising a competent, skilled and thoughtful human.
His name is Mark Luell and he’s the author of the blog, Growing Up Guns.
If Eddie Eagle has a brother, Mark would be it. Lucky for us, we had the chance to talk to Mark and get a little more information on the man behind the blog, as well as some tips for families who plan to bring up a child in a home with a firearm...
1. Your blog is titled Growing Up Guns - Why?
I was driving back from a tactical conference last year when the idea struck me. I was assimilating all of the information that I had learned that weekend, and I had a small Epiphany about the current state of gun culture and gun writing. I also realized that the gun oriented bloggers that I was following never really went into detail about how armed personal protection plugs into family life. The title Growing Up Guns naturally followed as I wanted to share information about tactics, education, safety, and skill-building in this context.
2. So you write because…? I like writing articles with actionable advice. I want to teach people and give them something they can do to be safer. I tend to be contrarian, and enjoy pointing out some of the silly trends in the training industry and make sure to keep reality in mind when making decisions about personal security.
3. What was your first experience with firearms? Like most people, much of my childhood education about firearms came from media in the form of TV and film. So I had preconceived notions about what to expect when the pistol went *bang*. Naturally, I was anxious when I first started shooting. I remember the overwhelming sensations of sight, sound, and the thumping of the concussion in my chest of shots being fired in an indoor range. With careful safety instruction from a competent instructor, my concerns fell away and I fell in love with shooting guns. At the time, of course, it was just about trying to hit a bull's eye. My father is not a strong shooter or hunter, but he made firearms an approachable topic that we could learn together. I dabbled over the years with range trips as a twice yearly way to 'blow off steam'. Shooting 50 rounds at a silhouette and calling it a day. Since I'm an engineer, the primary attraction was the guns and gear from a mechanical and aesthetic standpoint. I liked the machine that was a firearm. Fast forward, reading forums and some reflection made me realize that I didn't know a thing about truly using the firearm as a tool to defend my family and myself. I was consciously incompetent. Then in 2007 I took my first Defensive/Fighting/Combative pistol course that incorporated the fundamentals of shooting, mindset, and legal aspects into a two day format. This was the hook for mSince then, I have accumulated 500+ hours of professional instruction from many of the big names in the firearms training industry. I focus on tactics and gear that the average gun owner can use to defend her or his family. The glut of new gun owners leaves a large population that need skills and tactics to move forward to develop themselves into competent gun owners beyond basic instruction.
4. Teaching your own children firearm safety must make you laugh at times? The cutest memory I have from teaching my son so far is after we were 'handling' (never say 'playing') with daddy's gun and I put it away, he kept asking, "Where's my gun, daddy. Where's my gun?" I have to admit, that gave me a good laugh and made me excited that my son would one day take to the hobby of personal protection like his dad. Time will tell.
5. You grew up learning about guns. Now it is your turn to share your knowledge with your family, how do you go about teaching firearms safety in your home? A lot of my knowledge of introducing children to firearms has come from my mentors who have children who are in their teens at this point. My son can recognize a gun and points them out to me when he sees them. I'm happy with that for just having turned 3. At this point, I'm mostly concerned with how to maintain awareness and continue teaching. The teaching has begun, but is not in full swing.
6. What do you think of the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program? I'm glad that the NRA has a program like this. It doesn't have to (and shouldn't) be complicated, but it needs to convey the urgency of a child reporting an unsecured gun to the nearest adult. Pretending guns don't exist is, in my opinion, a lethal error. When there is no education, then the only knowledge the child has of firearms is when he saw the zombie's head explode on a TV show, and that was exciting so let’s see what happens if... Bad juju. As far as Eddie Eagle goes, the eagle is swift, has keen eyes, and is a symbol of the Liberty and Freedoms that we as Americans enjoy. He's a good mascot. 7. Back to your Blog - If you could interview someone for your blog who would it be and why? I am fascinated by two kinds of people; story tellers and technicians. On the story teller side, I would have loved to talk with Jim Cirillo. By all accounts, he was a fascinating man. Luckily, we have his books to learn about his exploits.
On the technician side, I would like to talk with Ernest Langdon (Langdon Tactical), Bill Rogers (Rogers Shooting School), and/or Frank Proctor (Way of the Gun). I'm very lucky because I'm actually on texting terms with my mentors. There has been invaluable information learned over dinner and drinks. My favorite thing to do is be a fly on the wall during discussions between the gentlemen I look up to during training events. Mouth shut, ears open.
8. Do you still, at your age, consider yourself to be growing up? You know that's a funny question. I always sort of think of myself as a kid. All of my mentors and many of my friends are ten or more years older than I am. Beyond that though, I would hope that everyone realizes that "growing up" is just the process of evolution and maturation of thoughts and beliefs in light of new information and experiences. I think everyone is 'growing up' until they die. So, yes, I'm still growing up.
To read more about personal protection, skill building, teaching kids awareness, firearms safety - pretty much anything that you can think of, visit Mark at Growing Up Guns. We’re all still growing up and could use all the help we can get.