I'm a father of three (2 boys: aged 13 & 10 and a girl: 5) thank you for starting this thread. Education in this area is ongoing and constant with children and adults alike.
In my opinion, the allure of "Call of Duty" type first person shooter games is taking the teaching firearm safety and respect into a new dimension. These games, combined with 10 years of war on the evening/morning news and the increased incidents of school shootings and other violent crime on the television IS affecting our youth and making it harder, again in my opinion, to teach responsibility.
I'm certainly no expert, but here's what I've done. First in regards to the games, my wife and I only allow one video game system (an Xbox in our case) in the house and we limit their game total time to about an hour a day per child - this includes computer/web time. During the school year it's 2 hours a day Fri - Sun with no game/computer time on Mon - Thurs (unless needed for a school project where we supervise what they're doing 100% of the time). Summer break they get one hour a day Mon - Sun, period. We're blessed by the fact that our boys like sports so we're always running around with soccer, track, flag football, drum lessons, etc. They don't seem to miss the games too much even though their peers are playing constantly.
Now onto the actual firearms. I've always taught them handgun safety since the day when they figured out what a gun was, reviewing the basics of muzzle safety, trigger discipline, etc over and over and then over and over again. Even on their NERF guns I make sure that they practice these things and if we think the aggression with the NERF guns is getting out of hand the guns "disappear". We do not allow them to have airsoft guns. I have nothing against those who play, but I think they further blur the line between reality/fantasy with some young people. I have allowed my boys to shoot my blackpowder weapons with me at a private/family range and will probably move them to the .22 Ruger pistol this summer. My guns are locked in a safe and the ammo is locked away in a different area.
For further reinforcement we talk openly about the responsibilities of owning firearms and effects of firearms on "targets" and stress that it is no laughing matter - regardless of what their friends think and the "humor" of zombie games and so forth. I'm sure this violates all sorts of suggested parenting skills, but on a couple occasions I've even shown them "after the fact" images to reinforce the fact that guns are not toys. I also tell them the inspiring stories of the men and women that I've met while doing USO events and tours, especially after the visits to Walter Reed and other military hospitals. I've found that the inspiration, dedication and drive of these wounded warriors to heal and rebuild their lives has a very positive effect on my children, despite the horrific wounds that some have received.
We cannot lock our kids away 24-7 and I hope that our candid safety and responsibility talks with them about life, including firearms, will give them a basis to be good citizens.
My daughter is 3, so everything is under lock and key now. I told her never to touch a gun if she sees it, and to tell a grown up. A couple of weeks ago we were at a Cabelas and I took her into the gun library. She pointed at a display of handguns and said "Daddy, I want to try that when I'm older. Maybe five."
That's what I always say ! If you want to avoid accidents, you don't need to hide your gun from your kids, as they could find it while playing around and do something terrible ! Rather teach them to be as aware as possible of what it does and be very responsible about handling one !
1. Daddy's stuff is dangerous (goes for everything from powertools etc.).
2. Do not touch daddy's stuff.
3. If you find daddy's stuff somewhere where it shouldn't be, tell mum or dad.
4. Guns are for making holes on paper (they'll pick the rest up sooner or later).
5. When old enough to understand responsibility in general take them putting holes on to paper and explain basic gun safety rules. Never point the gun towards anything but the target, etc. Repeat ad nauseum about the dangers involved with firearms.
6. Never touch daddy's stuff.
My kids do not see violence in tv or games, I stick to the ratings strictly. If I want to play BF3 or some other game with violence in it, it's after their bed time. All weapons and ammunition is locked up unless they are coming or going out, or I'm working with them. If kid asks about shooting I explain it is merely a hobby among others (like hockey etc). Firearms are not glorified, but "everyday items" which are just dangerous to kids.