With a company called Safety Solutions Academy, LLC, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that gun safety is a topic that sits at the top of my list of priorities and since a new kids gun safety book, Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules was just released, you should probably expect me to write about it.
The fact that I spent more than a decade teaching middle school math and science might tell you that I appreciate, and sometimes even like kids. All right, I’ll admit it. Kids are awesome, and in most circumstances, I’d rather eat dinner at the kid’s table instead of with the adults.
When you add to the above that Julie Golob is my friend and one of my absolute favorites in the firearms industry, it should be pretty clear that you are about to read a completely biased blog post. The good news is that I am biased in the right direction, so relax and just let it happen…
Last week world champion shooter, Julie Golob pressed publish on her children’s book, Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules and before the first day was done I ordered a dozen copies. One for each of my daughters, a few for the elementary school library and the bulk for our county library system. The books are on their way from Amazon and I have to say, I can’t wait to get them in my hands to take a closer look. I am not alone in my purchase of Julie’s latest book and Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules is thriving on Amazon.
Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules is written by Julie Golob and illustrated by Nancy Batra. The book is crafted for children age 3 and above and their parents, however, I think the book appeals to a wider age range. Its purpose is simple, to help educate children about gun safety and to help adults begin that conversation with the children that they care about.
You can read the official press release on Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules here.
The book does an excellent job of comparing and contrasting the three classifications of objects described in the title: Toys, tools and guns and then helping to understand why there are rules related to tools and guns. The way Julie has chosen to relate guns to tools helps to demystify firearms and place them into a realm of understanding that can help both children and adults understand and discuss the important topic of gun safety.
In addition to the quality, intelligent text and accurate and detailed illustrations, Golob included helpful resources for parents consisting of a page by page guide that helps parents understand why Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules is laid out as it is.
I already admitted that I am biased, so take all of this with a grain of salt, but I think that Julie is the perfect person to write this children’s gun safety primer.
Julie is a Mom.
Julie and her husband have two children and those children are immersed in a home that has a firearms focus. Julie’s husband is a law enforcement officer and Julie is a competitive shooter. That makes the issues that Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules addresses real issues that the Golob family has needed to address as their kids have been growing up. At the same time Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules shows that Julie really gets it. Julie understands the idea that not every house is made up of parents who are world champion shooters and elite law enforcement officers. There isn’t judgement in Toys, Tools, guns and Rules, just understanding of how parents can and should help kids understand safety regardless of their level of understanding of guns.
Julie is a firearms professional.
This is the understatement of the year. Julie has one of the most complete backgrounds of any one in the firearms industry and the solid character to match it. Julie entered the United States Army after high school graduation and was trained as a Military Police Officer while she was a member of the U.S. Army Action Shooting Team. As Julie honed her craft of action shooting she also developed the professionalism she would need to to excel in the gun industry. Golob is a professional competitor with a significant number of championship titles and has been sponsored by Smith & Wesson (one of only 3 publicly traded gun companies) for more than a dozen years.
This type of consistent influence doesn’t come without a level of professionalism to match. Golob has it.
Julie is dedicated to gun safety.
Julie has been a spokes person for the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe for several years and in that time has helped the NSSF spread the word across the nation about the safe storage of firearms.
Julie can be seen demonstrating gun safety on a consistent basis in her competitive life and in her countless videos where she represents major brands and the firearms industry on the internet and on television in a safe and responsible manner.
The concepts and principles that Julie helps to convey in her new book aren’t rocket science. In fact, they are quite simple. I’m convinced that the simplicity found in Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules is a result of Julie’s deep understanding of gun safety and the in depth experiences that she has at home and in the industry helping others to grasp how important safety really is.
Recently I spoke with Julie on the SSA Podcast. You can take a look at the post from that episode here or listen to the show below.
Why Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules is Important.
Gun Safety is important and it isn’t difficult to understand why. When firearms accidents happen, the consequences can be incredibly severe. Every year, children and adults are injured as a result of accidents with guns. In the vast majority of situations, education could have virtually eliminated these tragic consequences.
It doesn’t matter if you live in a home with or without guns, at some point and time you or your children will be around a gun. A mistake in handling or storage can lead to a situation where serious injury or death can take place. Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules is the beginning of the education that you and your children need to reduce the risk of injury or death from a firearms accident.
Ignoring guns doesn’t make you safer. Instead, tackling the issue head on with education is the way to handle it.
You teach your kids to be safe around water, and roads and in the car. You have a fire evacuation plan for your home that your kids know and a fire extinguisher at the ready. You took a first aid and CPR class to be ready for a medical emergency. Guns aren’t any different yet in many homes and in most schools the safety aspects of guns are completely ignored. It shouldn’t be that way. Guns are tools that when used inappropriately can harm. Education is the answer.
Julie’s book makes for a great starting point for addressing gun safety in your home with your children.
What Makes Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules Special.
I’ve already addressed Julie’s background as a mom and a firearms pro. In my opinion, it’s this background that helps Julie boil down a polarizing topic into such a simple set of lessons.
I am also impressed with the elegant comparison that Julie made between guns and other tools. Again, guns are a topic that bring out the best and the worst in people. Yet, just like a chainsaw, guns are inanimate objects that can only take on the intent of the user.
Despite her love for the Second Amendment and the firearms lifestyle she leads, Julie doesn’t seek to elevate guns to a status any higher than other common household tools like kitchen knives, or hammers and saws. Tools are tools and they need to be respected. Respect doesn’t mean vilifying an object, instead it requires that responsible people take an honest look at how they can increase safety.
Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules provides wonderful examples of people that use tools to accomplish tasks in a open manner that I appreciate. There is a mom hanging a picture frame and a dad cutting carrots. These adults use tools just like hunters, police officers, members of the armed forces, armed citizens, and competition shooters.
Golob doesn’t glorify the gun or the people that use them. Instead she normalizes them and if we are really honest with ourselves, guns are tools that are a pretty normal part of American culture, it’s just that we don’t tend to act normal about guns. That should change and Julie’s book will help.
Another aspect that makes Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules stand out to me is that Julie didn’t limit the scope of the book. Instead, with her intelligent and neutral approach she opened up the audience that will be willing to receive her message. If you are someone that fears or loathes guns, Golob welcomes you with open arms and rightfully so. The gun industry could take a lesson on acceptance from Julie.
I think that Julie’s dedication to this project is another aspect that help’s Toy’s, Tools, Guns and Rules shine. Let me explain what I mean about dedication:
It was February of 2017 when Julie first reached out to me about launch ideas for her children’s book. I remember the time because I was relaxing on a boat cruising along the shoreline of a lake in South Carolina getting a bit of work done as we exchanged a bunch of messages. The book wasn’t quite done at the time, but it was getting close and Julie was kicking around a bunch of great ideas and looking for feedback. On a lake, in the south, chatting with a world champion shooter about a gun safety book. Then a bald eagle soared past and landed in a tree. America!
But that isn’t my point…the book was “getting close” a year ago. Now to be fair, don’t think that Julie has put in 60 hours a week on this project from then till now. She is a busy lady and has lots of projects going on. After all she did take a jaunt to France to win a World Championship… The point is, that Julie has devoted an incredible amount of time, and intention into getting this book right. And I appreciate that. I think you will as well.
What’s Inside Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules
The following comes straight from Julie’d Media Kit for the book:
Colorful and realistic illustrations inspire essential conversations about guns by:
- Comparing firearms to other potentially dangerous adult tools.
- Exploring the different types of firearms and what can they look like.
- Educating curious minds about how firearms work and the most dangerous parts of a gun.
- Identifying adults children may know who safely and responsibly use firearms.
The Way Julie thought through the presentation of the topic is pretty impressive. It seems that just about every detail was thought of in the creation of Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. The pictures are realistic but at the same time they aren’t overwhelming.
Let me give you an example. Before I read Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules I had no idea that the Smith & Wesson M&P10 had ambidextrous controls. When I looked at a cropped drawing of an ambiguous modern sporting rifle intending to show children what the trigger was, I noticed an ambi mag release on the left side of the gun. A quick search and yup, it is correct. The controls weren’t the point, the trigger was, yet, the detail was included in a way that didn’t distract from the intention of the illustration, yet at the same time it was completely correct.
Background colors, fine details and the layout were all carefully considered for maximum impact.
The Lessons Toys, Tools Guns & Rules presents are valuable, clear and direct.
Toys are for play. They are pretend.
Tools are for real. They help people solve problems and complete tasks. Sometimes tools can be dangerous. A kitchen knife, a hammer, a chainsaw. As helpful as they are and despite all the positive outcomes these tools can help us to achieve each can be dangerous and they need to be treated with respect.
When it comes to guns, Julie tells it like it is. Guns are tools. Just like other tools they can help responsible users to achieve positive outcomes and to complete tasks like harvesting food, or protecting innocent people. Comparing guns with other tools that are used to help complete everyday tasks is an intelligent, unemotional way to help children (or anyone else) understand firearms.
Some folks in the firearms community are under the illusion that guns aren’t dangerous. I get it, a gun does nothing on its own, but I think we are kidding ourselves if we don’t accept the fact that when firearms are in use there is an element of danger. It is important to accept this reality so that we can take action and do something about it.
You see, accepting an element of danger doesn’t make something negative or bad. You can cut yourself with a knife, but you can also cut your steak. Your neighborhood swimming pool could be the place where your child drowns, or it could be the place you enjoy hours of family fun. Your chainsaw can be a tool that helps to warm your family in the winter or it could tear through your skin when misused.
The potential for a negative outcome doesn’t make knives, pools or chainsaws bad, but taking an honest look at both the positive and negative impacts of dangerous things in our lives.
It is the same with guns. They aren’t good or bad, they are just tools that can have a positive or negative impact based on how they are used. Accepting the element of danger that guns introduce into our lives helps to make sure your gun helps you to have a positive impact.
In my opinion this is one of the important points of Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. To help people recognize the positive impact guns can have on our lives, accept the danger that accompanies the use of ANY tool, and most importantly what parents can do to mitigate the negative impacts.
Julie includes and excellent parents’ guide that serves as a detailed explanation covering the why behind how the book was laid out and how parents can use the book with their kids. Let’s face it, talking with your children and teaching them about serious topics isn’t easy. When kids start in with the questions it can really make you wonder how well you actually understand the topic you are teaching. I understand why this could lead some folks to feel apprehensive about the situation.
This is where Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules really shines. The Parents’ Guide makes it accessible to anyone that wants to help children learn more about safety.
Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules includes a set of gun safety rules that are adapted for children. This is an obvious and important aspect of the book. Remember, the purpose of the book isn’t to just help you and your kids feel safer. Instead the point is to actually be safer. That means respecting tools, understanding the rules associated with them and actually putting those rules to use.
When I look at Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules it is clear to me that Golob intends it to be a starting point. If folks head to kidsgunsaofetybook.com Julie has included additional resources that can help to further the discussion. There you can download a printable copy of the kids’ gun safety rules, the Parents’ Guide and the Next Steps. In addition you will find links to other organizations that support kids gun safety like Eddie The Eagle Program and The NSSF’s Project ChildSafe.
Impressions from Kids
I think there is some value in me sharing my opinions about Toys Tools, Guns and Rules, but as an adult who is an expert in the area of firearms and gun safety, I am probably not the target of this book. If we considered me just a dad, I’d be a touch closer.
As soon as I got my digital copy of the book and I finished reading it, I put it in front of my kids. At 9 and 8 they are a bit old for the book as it targets kids starting at 3 and the fact that both my daughters are shooters adds to their distance from the target demographic. At the same time, I loved their reaction to the book.
Although the text, the concepts and the principles are simple, both of my kids were drawn to the outstanding illustrations created by Nancy Batra and they immediately understood the elegant parallels Golob drew between guns and other tools.
You see, my kids live in a home and a life that is immersed with guns. It has made gun safety education a priority from a very young age. The gun safety conversation is constant and continually evolving. Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules has given us a new set of gun safety conversation starters and for that I am grateful.
I asked each of my kids to come up with and share some important ideas from Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. Here are their thoughts in their words.
Thoughts from M, My 9 Year Old Daughter
Toys, Tools Guns and Rules by Julie Golob has an important purpose. The purpose is to familiarize children with the similarities of tools and guns and to teach them the rules of gun safety.
I liked the book Toys, Tools Guns and Rules because it labels different parts of different guns. That way if you are shooting a gun you know what parts you need to keep in a safe direction (the muzzle) and what part you need to keep your finger away from until you are ready to shoot (the trigger.) The pictures were very helpful for me to visualize.
I also liked the picture of the different people that use guns. It was helpful for me to understand the different ways that guns are used and the different people that use them.
The book helped me understand the similarities between a chainsaw and a gun and a car and a gun. Most of the time a chainsaw is good but it can be bad. It usually cuts down trees or cuts firewood which is helpful, but if the operator makes a mistake the chainsaw could hurt them badly. A gun can be helpful when its used to harvest an animal or to protect innocent people, but if the operator makes a mistake the gun could harm them or other innocent people. In order to prevent these situations where the operator hurts themselves or others, we must learn about safety.
For another example a car can get you from one place to another but you can also run someone over with a car. You can use a gun to defend yourself but you can also use a gun and take an innocent person’s life. Cars and guns are pretty similar, but they are treated extremely differently. People are not afraid of cars because cars are part of their everyday day life. Some people are afraid of guns because guns aren’t part of their daily life. They aren’t familiar with guns. Lots of people are familiar with guns because they use them responsibly.
The purpose of Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules is to teach you that tools are most often used for a good cause but if you are not careful they can end up causing negative effects. It is also important to know that guns aren’t that different from other tools. Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules tries to familiarize children with the similarities between guns and other tools.
I think this book is extremely kid friendly and helpful for parents that are or aren’t familiar with guns.
Thoughts from B, My 8 Year Old Daughter
I really like Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules because it helps keep kids safe. It keeps kids safe because it includes gun safety rules.
Gun safety rules are important because they help to keep me and my family safe. One of the rules helps to remind me to act like a gun can always shoot. Another one of the rules helps to remind me to always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.
Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules also keeps kids safe because it has pictures of guns in it. That way if you find a gun you know what it is. The pictures also help to explain information about guns. One of the pictures shows the trigger of a gun. It is important to know what a trigger is because if the gun is loaded and you press the trigger no matter which direction the muzzle is pointing the gun will shoot. Another picture shows the muzzle. The muzzle is important because the direction the muzzle is pointing when you press the trigger is the direction the bullet will go.
It also keeps kids safe because it tells the difference between toys, tools and guns. You can use a screwdriver to fix or build things. That is helpful. You can use a gun for hunting or for shooting for fun. That is also helpful. If you aren’t careful with a screwdriver or a gun you could get hurt. To make sure you don’t get hurt with a screwdriver or a gun you should follow the rules.
I also like the book because it is fun to read. Toys, Tools, guns and Rules is fun to read because it is about a topic I enjoy learning about. Guns.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m adding this section as an attempt to give an unbiased view of Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. I think it is a stretch as I am biased.
But, it’s also a stretch because the book doesn’t present anything that I’m not 100% on board with. If I turned back the clock 7 years, this is the book I would have wanted but I can’t turn back time so…
This is what I can come up with:
I want Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules to be more than what it is right now. I think it serves parents and young children wonderfully in that it helps to open the conversation about gun safety which is exactly what Julie set out to do.
But I’m jealous. I want that same kind of quality resource for my daughter who just turned 8 and another book for my oldest who is about to turn 10.
I haven’t asked Julie what is next down this road, but I’m personally hoping that this is it.
I know, not much of a criticism is it? I’m basically saying, “where is the sequel” before the credits are even done rolling from the first film. I’ve never tried to convince anyone that I am patient.
Final Thoughts on Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules
I don’t think it is hard for you to figure out how I really feel about Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. I love it. Julie did a great job creating a valuable resource for families who recognize the need to discuss and learn about gun safety.
I think that families that have kids need to look at this book. Buy a copy and spend some time reading it with your kids and exploring the support documents that Julie has included. I know that many families don’t have children in the target age demographic. I think these families (like mine) can still benefit from the book. It can be a refreshing look at gun safety from a different direction, or maybe a solid refresher of real quality fundamentals. You have to decide if the book is right for you, but at the affordable price point of $9.99 I would say it is worth the “risk.”
Maybe you don’t have kids at home, but you have grand kids, or nieces and nephews, or maybe you are an educator. I think it makes sense for you to take a look at Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. It might be just the right tool for you to help to educate kids or parents in the importance of gun safety. Take a look.
I bought a dozen copies of Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules. We will keep one for each of the kids to use now and to pass on this important message to their kids should they ever head down the amazing road of parenting. The rest we will be spreading in our community through our school and county library systems. Maybe you would like to help spread the word as well.