Intervening With Negligent Parents


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Cosmoline
June 24, 2013, 02:53 PM
I've run into this situation a few times and I've never found the best way to deal with it. It happened again on Saturday. In this situation it was a man in his 40's with a young 12 or 13 year old boy, small in stature. They were sharing a bench. Dad (I assume) was angry and was mostly ignoring the son. The son had a .22LR faux SMG of some kind with a high cap. The dad had a mini-14. He was capping off rounds while his son struggled to hold the .22. He was clearly too weak to lift it reliably, and kept trying to rest the magazine point on the bench where the whole thing wobbled.

There were so many things being done badly. Under no circumstances should the kid have been that close to the noise and brass from the Mini. He had only plugs in and I can assure you his ears were being damaged. You could see him wince as the .223's went off right next to him. And Dad, in response to the son's struggles, told him "just hold it however you want to." (!!) So the son tried to get a few rounds off, wobbling badly and having no prayer of hitting the 25 yard target. I had stopped my own shooting at this point, stood a few paces back and just watched the proceedings. I was getting ready to step in if he swept the line when the .22 blissfully jammed and Dad, utterly unable to clear the jam, packed the firearm up in a huff.

This isn't the first time I've seen this kind of nonsense, though it's more frequent on the pistol line.

The situation is dicey, though. Angry dad clearly is in no mood to discuss his kid, and any attempt to intervene is liable to raise his ire. Even without the anger, you are essentially going to be humiliating the parent in front of the child. And that's a dangerous thing to do when the parent is armed. Is there some phrasing or approach folks have used successfully when dealing with this situation?

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MtnCreek
June 24, 2013, 03:03 PM
If you have a rifle with you that's suitable for the kid, you could ask the dad if he would mind if the kid shot your rifle a few times (assuming kid would be interested). You'd then have opportunity to give him some instruction w/o stepping on any toes. Sounds like 'dad' is more interested in his shooting than his son's shooting/safety. Sad, but I've seen it more than once.

IMHO, better off to pack up and leave than confront the 'dad'.

DAP90
June 24, 2013, 03:05 PM
In a similar situation I’ve offered to let them borrow my more appropriate handgun. Dad had his young son trying to shoot a center fire handgun that had way to much recoil for him to handle. I offered my Buckmark and the kid did a lot better.

If you had a 22lr without a long mag that the son could have rested on bags you could have tried offering that. Something along the lines of, “Your son’s doing well. How long has he been shooting? Would he like to try using mine? He could rest it on some bags and we’ll see how crack of a shot he is.”

That let’s dad know the gun he’s using maybe isn’t the best but doesn’t get anyone all riled up. If he says no it’s time to move on. If you don’t have an appropriate firearm then I’m at a loss and probably wouldn’t say anything so long as it wasn’t dangerous.

Edit: Beaten to it by MtnCreek

X-Rap
June 24, 2013, 03:27 PM
I'd be in a foul mood too if I were trying to shoot a mini off a bench for accuracy:rolleyes::neener:
Joking aside, you are treading on dangerous ground if you attempt to correct bad parenting and adding guns to it is even worse.
Not an easy answer at all because in his mind what was happening was cool or he would have corrected it himself.
Having raised 3 kids and seen/heard how some of their piers were raised I have come to the conclusion that confrontations with parents in the presence of their kids would be unadvisable because they really think they are right.

Deltaboy
June 24, 2013, 03:31 PM
Offer another gun that is more appropriate. Otherwise unless your the Range officer or owner It would be best to butt out.

Jim, West PA
June 24, 2013, 03:54 PM
I would humbly befriend the dad and gently build his trust from there before i even brot the son into it.

ShooterMcGavin
June 24, 2013, 04:22 PM
It's painful to watch but, in the grand scheme of things, you will not make an impact to the longterm parenting that this child will experience. Your intentions are good, and you should certainly speak up if you see actions that are clearly dangerous to immediate safety. In the end though, the truth is that some children will end up with bad parenting experiences. There is nothing you can do in that situation to really improve the lessons the parent or the child will bring away from the day. IMO, it's not the place to step in and make corrections.

As others have said, if you have a more appropriate firearm to share, it certainly doesn't hurt to be friendly and offer to share. I would do that for anyone having difficulties at the range though.

Arkansas Paul
June 24, 2013, 04:29 PM
Joking aside, you are treading on dangerous ground if you attempt to correct bad parenting and adding guns to it is even worse.

I agree. I'm not getting involved one way or the other.

Godsgunman
June 24, 2013, 04:34 PM
Just another reason I don't often visit public ranges. I probably would have talked to the range officer and had them intervene if he deemed it necessary, which I hope he would. I'm not one to get into how others parent and it's technically the range officer's job to confront safety issues.

scaatylobo
June 24, 2013, 04:37 PM
It sounds like a domestic of one sort or another,and as such there is NO way you could have helped at that point.

And stepping in would be very dangerous with guns AND tempers in attendance.


Sadly there are TOO many dysfunctional familys that are never going to get the help they desperately need.

chrt396
June 24, 2013, 04:47 PM
I'd be in a foul mood too if I were trying to shoot a mini off a bench for accuracy:rolleyes::neener:
Joking aside, you are treading on dangerous ground if you attempt to correct bad parenting and adding guns to it is even worse.
Not an easy answer at all because in his mind what was happening was cool or he would have corrected it himself.
Having raised 3 kids and seen/heard how some of their piers were raised I have come to the conclusion that confrontations with parents in the presence of their kids would be unadvisable because they really think they are right.
I agree in many ways in not interferring.....BUT! If the young boy is having difficulty, then either the Range Officer or whomever is in charge shold be notified of the situation. At our club, any person under the age of 18 must be under direct supervision of the parent. Therefore, the parent should be standing in back of the boy assisting and observing. If not....they are out of there. This is a gun range..not Chucky Cheese. Safety is paramount and visitors and members of the range need to follow procedure for the overall safety of everyone present. I don't worry about a parent or visitor getting riled up. State the issue politely...if there is a negative response, then remind the patron that he is at a range where there are safety rules that must pertain to everyone...if there is a negative response...Ask him to pack up and leave. If there is a negative response...ask again to leave or police will be dispatched. It's hard to be an aggressor at a range when you have 40-50 guns that you could be pointed at you in the rare chance you did something stupid. 95% of the time, a subtle comment to the Dad would be enough...but there are those few that are just beligerant. They don't need to be there in that event!

Arkansas Paul
June 24, 2013, 05:02 PM
I probably would have talked to the range officer and had them intervene if he deemed it necessary, which I hope he would.

Our club is private and doesn't have range officers, but I agree that if it did, I would do like you. As it is, I would take down the tag # of the vehicle and shoot one of the officers an email.

bannockburn
June 24, 2013, 05:23 PM
The indoor range that I frequent the most lets my kids shoot for free, as long as I'm there helping them and not doing any shooting of my own on their lane. A couple of older gentlemen run things and are very helpful and pleasant to deal with.

Haven't ever come across what the OP experienced in all my years of going to public ranges. Maybe I have just been fortunate with the overall temperments of other shooters around me or else maybe I just missed all those ill-tempered parents when I do get to the range.

At any rate I would not get involved in the situation as originally posted as it seems like matters could have escalated for the worse if the father was approached by another shooter, even with the best of intentions.

hso
June 24, 2013, 05:30 PM
That's a tough one.

You want to try to do something to improve the situation, but A) you can't gauge if the dad is just a jerk, B)is having a bad day and might appreciate a little distraction for "junior", or C)just needs a good example.

Add in the fact that he might take it as a threat to his territory and A could turn truly ugly, B) could turn truly ugly, C) could turn truly ugly.

If you had a Chipmunk or something equally kid friendly you might ask the pair if Dad minded if his kid could try out the Chipmunk so you could see how your nephew who's about his size might handle it. At worst you might be rebuffed in such a delicate situation.

mljdeckard
June 24, 2013, 05:34 PM
I would be torn. My normal rule is to keep my piehole shut unless someone is being unsafe. If I really thought the kid was about to drop it, I might say something.

The four rules can't correct lousy parenting.

PabloJ
June 24, 2013, 05:35 PM
I've run into this situation a few times and I've never found the best way to deal with it. It happened again on Saturday. In this situation it was a man in his 40's with a young 12 or 13 year old boy, small in stature. They were sharing a bench. Dad (I assume) was angry and was mostly ignoring the son. The son had a .22LR faux SMG of some kind with a high cap. The dad had a mini-14. He was capping off rounds while his son struggled to hold the .22. He was clearly too weak to lift it reliably, and kept trying to rest the magazine point on the bench where the whole thing wobbled.

There were so many things being done badly. Under no circumstances should the kid have been that close to the noise and brass from the Mini. He had only plugs in and I can assure you his ears were being damaged. You could see him wince as the .223's went off right next to him. And Dad, in response to the son's struggles, told him "just hold it however you want to." (!!) So the son tried to get a few rounds off, wobbling badly and having no prayer of hitting the 25 yard target. I had stopped my own shooting at this point, stood a few paces back and just watched the proceedings. I was getting ready to step in if he swept the line when the .22 blissfully jammed and Dad, utterly unable to clear the jam, packed the firearm up in a huff.

This isn't the first time I've seen this kind of nonsense, though it's more frequent on the pistol line.

The situation is dicey, though. Angry dad clearly is in no mood to discuss his kid, and any attempt to intervene is liable to raise his ire. Even without the anger, you are essentially going to be humiliating the parent in front of the child. And that's a dangerous thing to do when the parent is armed. Is there some phrasing or approach folks have used successfully when dealing with this situation?
I would stay away from people like that.

beatledog7
June 24, 2013, 05:39 PM
If something unsafe occurs, call "Ceasefire!" and let the RO deal with it. If there's no RO, by calling the ceasefire you now have everyone's attention and it can be handled by consensus.

doc2rn
June 24, 2013, 05:48 PM
I always take an old Marlin mod 60 to the range when I go for just such emergencies. I often ask the dad if its ok if I let him (jr) try my rifle off the kid station, we have a spot just for kids to shoot. Dad 99.9% of the time says yes, and gets a moment of uninteruption for whatever he is doing. Usually they come over after calming down and I always say something like your child is doing great, he must of had excellent instruction or he is a natural. Usually dad beaming with pride takes a pic or says its time to go.

dirtykid
June 24, 2013, 06:08 PM
I always take an old Marlin mod 60 to the range when I go for just such emergencies. I often ask the dad if its ok if I let him (jr) try my rifle off the kid station, we have a spot just for kids to shoot. Dad 99.9% of the time says yes, and gets a moment of uninteruption for whatever he is doing. Usually they come over after calming down and I always say something like your child is doing great, he must of had excellent instruction or he is a natural. Usually dad beaming with pride takes a pic or says its time to go.

Exactly !!

I cannot believe how many people would be afraid to say anything

Maybe the guys having a bad day cause he dosent KNOW how to instruct the child properly

Starting the conversation off by talking about how my kid was first learning to shoot would have been a good start,,if no children of your own, use a niece/nephew/cousin ,, how does he know ??

Here we are , a bunch of gun enthusiasts constantly singing about how we need to stick-together to keep our rights from being taken away, yet we cannot open our mouths to a stranger to offer assistance ??

If he told me to pees-off and mind my own business, then fine leave it at that. But for the sake of our sport at least offer...

Prince Yamato
June 24, 2013, 06:16 PM
Forget getting involved directly. If kid sweeps the range, get a range master. It's possible the kid has no interest in shooting and that makes dad angry.

As others have said though, nobody wants to have their parenting critiqued. Angry father will only get angrier. Heck, outside of that, he may be a fine father. He just can't get his son to enjoy the things he does.

Geno
June 24, 2013, 06:42 PM
If the situation rises to a level that requires intervention, contact the range officer. S/he has the authority to redirect or expell as needed.

Geno

Beentown
June 24, 2013, 06:48 PM
I am a helper, it is natural for me. But I am finding myself less and less likely to help anymore. In this situation I would start up a conversation with Dad and read the situation from there.

Cosmoline
June 24, 2013, 08:08 PM
Thanks for that input. I like the loaner idea. This also comes up with poor shooters attempting to teach their wives, but an offer to help train her could really be taken in the wrong spirit.

yet we cannot open our mouths to a stranger to offer assistance ??

Well I offer lots of assistance. I've saved a guy from knocking his eye out with a PGO firing slugs, for example. And I'm friendly enough. But this is a man with his son, and the dynamics of correcting him are very different than just helping out an obvious newb. He clearly had no idea what he was doing beyond some very basic knowledge of how to aim and pull the trigger. The poor kid was getting traumatized, and who wouldn't be standing two feet from the suppressor of a tricked out Mini 14? It was a sharp sound for me, and I was ten feet away with double ear protection on. And he wan't paying attention to his son's difficulty controlling the .22. But to jump into that knot is to risk getting tied up in it. Parents aren't always rational creatures.

Eb1
June 24, 2013, 08:15 PM
I had this situation happen with a friend and his daughter. The rifle was to big for her. I had my daughter's T/C Hot Shot. I let her shoot it. Her father wasn't mad or ignoring her, but I was her soccer coach so I asked if I could help. He was fine with that.

She didn't like my daughter's hot shot rifle. So we went back to her rifle. Instead of shooting the longer heavier rifle standing. I had her sit down and rest it on her knee. She really started to hit her targets, and her mood improved about shooting, and her father was pleased that she didn't loose interest.
It is the small things, and sometimes as a parent you get a little impatient, or better yet you don't step back to view from the outside what is really going on, and how to convey your message to the child.
If someone was to ask politely, especially a family friend, I wouldn't mind them correcting my son or daughter if they were polite about it, and didn't make it seem like I was wrong.

I learned more from my cousins who were 15 years older than me sometimes about hunting and fishing than I did my dad. It just works that way sometimes.

Walkalong
June 24, 2013, 08:18 PM
A delicate situation at best. You could offer the kid a pair of muffs to go over his plugs, but even that could draw the parents ire. It could go either way and would depend greatly on what you say and how you approach it.

Tough call. I would want to help the kid, but would be very careful if I intervened.

I would rather deal with total newbs who just need guidance. They usually appreciate the help etc, but when they don't, just walk off, and no kid left behind.

Lex Luthier
June 24, 2013, 08:51 PM
Often, parents are wrong, and they are as often unwilling to admit it. It really is too bad that kid has to suffer due to poppy's inattention. Perhaps a "Hey, good job kid!" as they are packing up would bolster his attitude. Sometimes it takes an adult outside of the family to be the encourager.

Apple a Day
June 24, 2013, 09:56 PM
+1 what hso said. Consider it a teachable moment. I think a lot of it is in the approach. If you storm in and yell at dad it'll turn ugly but if you approach it as asking him to do you a favor by letting him do something he wants to do anyway...
... as bre'r Rabbit said, "PLEASE, don't throw me in that briar patch!" ;)

hso
June 24, 2013, 10:05 PM
Yeah, it can't be approached as correcting the father in front of the child (or even taking him aside to do it). You're much better off finding an excuse to separate them and teach the kid and let "dad" have some fun where he can "supervise".

Agsalaska
June 24, 2013, 10:12 PM
THe fact that guns are involved does not by itself make it a more volatile situation. That is actually quite a hypocritical position.


That being said, I would not address it at all. Know your place.

Tomcat47
June 24, 2013, 10:45 PM
Although I agree that this is.... or can be a sticky situation, I would have intervened regardless of the fathers attitude.

This is FIREARMS not tiddly winks!.. Carelessness can kill innocent people.

I would have attempted to establish communication with the dad first....

Ooh nice mini 14 ... etc etc. introduce myself, you come here often? And who is this young shooter? Glad to meet you too! This just has to happen, has to be averted in some way.. If there is no range officer, there still has to be range rules, our range also has no RO but has rules posted and in essence those that are using the range are responsible for managing it. If this range did not have written rules disallowing what was occurring....I Would NEVER go to that range again!

Our main range is managed by the county on county property, if there is a problem we are to report it to Sheriffs office, name, tag number etc. they will revoke their permit. So if things went south with dad or he would not listen, I would just gather up my things, get tag etc and leave peacefully.

The .22 rifle jamming would have been a great opportunity to possibly step in.... he was busy... irritable and did not want to mess with it.. Hey, my name is .... blah blah ... you mind if I take a look at that, i am familiar with those, I will help your little man get going...

And hopefully I get him going and give him a pair of muffs which I usually always carry 3 or 4 sets of muffs to the range and like above a .22 rifle and single action revolver too.

buck460XVR
June 25, 2013, 12:07 AM
The situation is dicey, though. Angry dad clearly is in no mood to discuss his kid, and any attempt to intervene is liable to raise his ire. Even without the anger, you are essentially going to be humiliating the parent in front of the child. And that's a dangerous thing to do when the parent is armed. Is there some phrasing or approach folks have used successfully when dealing with this situation?

Dicecy situation it is. A tough call to make without realy being there. One has to defuse and calm the situation before making suggestions for correction. Not only might the irate father take offense to unsolicitated criticism, the boy may also take offense to his dad being critcized. Kids look up to their parents and tend to defend them even when they are wrong. While the father was not being a perfect role model, to his credit he was there spending time with his son promoting the shooting sports. The aknowledgement of this may have been a good way to open the conversation. Then after the waters have been tested, and feathers aren't ruffeled, one can offer to loan a more appropriate gun or bags for the boy to rest his gun on. Regardless, a tough situation at best.

hso
June 25, 2013, 12:13 AM
The assumption that the dad might fly into a homicidal rage and shoot you is pretty far fetched.

We're far more likely to waste the effort and opportunity than get shot.

X-Rap
June 25, 2013, 12:20 AM
And this is all from one mans perspective, not saying he isn't right but everyone takes something different from an encounter. I just believe that unless there is immediate danger to life and limb one should stay away from unsolicited intervention between kids and parents.
It is certainly a domestic issue and those that keep us all herded in a safe direction say that is often a no win situation.

gamestalker
June 25, 2013, 10:31 PM
Having raised a half dozen kids, and knowing just how frustrated a parent can get doing so, I would be inclined to approach with a smile and attempt to strike up a friendly gun related chat session, making friends so too speak. And then using good communication skills, I would try to inject myself into their recreational session by simply asking if I could let Jr. try out my Marlin 60, or what ever might help alleviate some of the issue. And then ask him if he wants to try on a set of my ear muffs to see how well they control the loud report. And I would try to keep on track with the whole recreational experience by getting Dad's attention with some firearm talk, what we like to shoot, and keeping comments in the mix like, " It's so wonderful to see a Dad and Son spending quality time together shooting their guns" , " And it brings back so many great memories I have of doing, what your doing with your Boy". Maybe ask Dad if he wants to try one of my guns too. There are ways to approach situations like this without causing tempers to flare up. The Dad might even appreciate the help of someone else, because it allows him some time to focus on his day at the range with a bit less time being demanded of him by his Son. I remember those days with my kids. Honestly, I would not get very much time to myself when taking them fishing or shooting with me, and I did get frustrated at times because I didn't get my day of recreation as I had hoped to. And who knows, a friendly interaction may lead to making a new friend too.

GS

Cosmoline
June 26, 2013, 01:49 PM
It seems to me I could have simply offered to give my station up to his son. I hadn't thought of that before, but it would have also given me the chance to keep an eye on the kid and offer some proper oversight (ie going over basic safety, loading one bullet at a time, a rest for the heavy firearm, much closer target, explanation of how the sights work, etc)

TenDriver
June 26, 2013, 03:43 PM
Call me young and dumb, but I'd get involved. I'd likely ask the dad if they would both be interested in shooting some my junk (probably after introducing a conversation about the Mini, or whatever else they had on their bench). If the dad was receptive, I'd probably let him crack off my M1 a couple of times. Maybe the kid too. I'd offer the kid whatever low to no recoil firearm I had with me and if it fit, offer to let him take it back to his bench with a box of ammo if everything stayed positive.

Y'all are dead on about the bad parenting aspect. I've seen it at a range with a kid who was too young in my opinion to be there. Dad / stepdad / mom's boyfriend cussed out what looked to me like a 4 or 5 year old. Completely lost his cool, repeatedly. I invited him over to our bench and occupied his time for a while with some big bore stuff while mom stayed at their bench and shot 22s with the kids. They ran out, I walked another 100 over there. Cost me around $70 in ammo, but money well spent to get the kids a break.

Most people at a range who are acting poorly can have their attention diverted toward a firearm they don't usually shoot, at least for a little while. Might cost you a few bucks in ammo, but ammo was meant to be shot.

Certaindeaf
June 26, 2013, 03:48 PM
Get another job. You're going to have to pay for "it" one way or another.

X-Rap
June 26, 2013, 03:51 PM
It's impossible to put your self into the mind of the topic parent but I do try in most instances to try to have a viewpoint from who I am interacting with. That said I would personally be concerned with some of the posters in this thread having such interest in my child, that comes from a protective father not one who we are discussing as being negligent. Just a thought.

Potatohead
June 26, 2013, 04:05 PM
Having raised a half dozen kids, and knowing just how frustrated a parent can get doing so,

^^^^^^no doubt

Sometimes i see these "kid beaten by parent at Wal Mart" videos, and im thinkin- that kid mighta needed a good whoopin. Sometimes you dont make good contact on the first couple swings of the spank and you have to take another couple, kinda looks like your wailing on them or something. You know, no abuse for sure, but folks are pretty sensitive these days it seems..if im giving my kids a spanking, they needed a good one.

Not advocating child abuse here and i think that was off topic too. Just something my wife and i talk about sometimes. Parent should get the benefit of the doubt? (edit-not when theyre being unsafe with firearms though)

mgmorden
June 26, 2013, 04:58 PM
I'm going to take a mostly opposite stance myself from most.

It sounds like the kid was having trouble shooting, but nothing truly unsafe was being done - ie, no sweeping or anything. Muzzle control wasn't mentioned. Kid was "just" wearing plugs but realistically a lot of people don't double-up on hearing protection - particularly on an outdoor range.

My guess is that had one intervened there would be a counter-thread somewhere on some internet forum by a guy talking about how he was taking his son out shooting and some tactical mall ninja couldn't help but try to correct how his son was shooting (not saying that's the case - I'm just saying that each side of a story has a viewpoint - accurate or not).

In general - a man and his children, wife, girlfriend, etc, I leave alone at the range unless something blatantly unsafe is occurring. Like it or not, most people are going to take it as a slight. Some with calmer personalities will brush it off, but some are going to get defensive.

Officers'Wife
June 26, 2013, 05:30 PM
Dads are not always wise, they are sometimes just there. I see a number of parenting techniques that... well, Sister Beatrice told me if I don't have anything nice to say then say nothing at all.

But, this is still a free society and one of the hardest and frustrating parts of freedom is the duty to allow others to do things you don't particularly approve of. If possible let the young boy know you are available for lessons but otherwise take a Rolaids and let it go. :(

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