The Project ChildSafe team recently sat down with Project ChildSafe supporter Ryan Cleckner. Ryan is a former Army Ranger sniper team leader, bestselling author and firearms expert. We chatted with him about his latest book, "There’s Only One You," which focuses on teaching firearms safety to children.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how firearms safety become such a priority to you and your family?
I’ve been around firearms all of my life, as I grew up hunting and shooting in Arizona. As a young child, my dad always obliged whenever I expressed interest in seeing his firearms or if I wanted to shoot. Looking back, I found this particularly effective. It offered me the opportunity to regularly examine my dad’s firearms, and it demystified guns in a safe environment. I later joined the Army and made my way into the elite 1st Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment as a special operations sniper.
What inspired you to write a book specifically geared toward teaching firearms safety to children?
“There’s Only One You” is very personal to me. My family is portrayed throughout the illustrations, and I’ve dedicated it to my daughter, Alice, who was the inspiration behind the book. I remember one day in particular, when Alice came home from school and told me about the various safety drills they had practiced. It hit me as she talked about how they had practiced pool safety and fire drills – why aren’t we discussing the importance of firearms safety with our children? We teach them safety for so many other issues, but it’s very important that our children understand firearms safety. Even if you are a parent and not a gun owner, there is still a chance that one of your children’s friends has a firearm in their home. In that case, it’s important that they understand how to act (or react) around it. Adults have a responsibility to teach their children about the importance of firearms safety.
How do you practice firearms safety at home and teach your children about the importance of firearms safety?
Firearms safety is very important to me. Whenever I take Alice shooting, I always make her recite the four rules of firearms safety. However, even though we go over them regularly, it is notably harder for children to remember the rules of firearms safety. I took this knowledge into account when I wrote “There’s Only One You.” The book encourages children to always find an adult if they encounter an unsecured firearm. Additionally, I always ensure that firearms are under the complete control of an adult or safely secured; children should never have unauthorized access to unsecured firearms.
How does “There’s Only One You” fit in with your support of Project ChildSafe?
We need to be discussing firearms safety for children – we’re doing a disservice to ourselves if we are ignoring the importance of firearms safety. Project ChildSafe is an organization that already provides resources to educate people about firearms safety, and “There’s Only One You” is a great resource to help parents have the important discussion about firearms safety with their children.