Westley McDuffie gave his son his first .22 caliber single shot rifle last Christmas, when the boy was 6 years old. His daughter, who is now 6, might get one from her grandfather for Christmas this year.
The family lives on two acres of land in Loganville, Georgia, where McDuffie has set up metal targets for his children to practice on. Both of his children have demonstrated that they can follow directions and respect basic firearm safety, leading McDuffie to decide they have earned their own weapons. After all, if they're going to handle guns, they need ones that fit them right, he said.
McDuffie, retired from the U.S. Army, has a personal stash of 15 pistols, shotguns and rifles (kept out of children's reach, he said) for target practice and home protection. They live far out in the country, he said, too long a drive to wait for law enforcement to come in an emergency.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.
He would never force his children to shoot if they didn't like it, he said. But it's important to him that they know how to if the need arises.
He suggested that if the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School had been armed, things might have gone differently.
McDuffie and Robin agreed that they would not allow their children access to firearms if they had behavioral issues or did not appear to respect weapons.
As soon as her daughter was old enough to realize that they had a gun safe in the bedroom, Robin brought her to her father to learn gun safety.
"I knew she needed to have that same healthy fear and respect of guns, to ensure her safety," she said.
Like her mother, the teen remembers the force of firing her first weapon under the instruction of her grandfather.
She is 15 now and knows how to shoot BB guns, handguns, rifles, shotguns even an AR-15, her mother said. She feels comfortable leaving her home alone with her younger brothers knowing that she has the code to the gun safe if she needs to use it.
The teen said it's not a responsibility that she takes lightly.
"It's for our safety," she said. "I have a lot of respect for them. I don't see it as fun or cool, but if I'm ever in a situation where I need a gun, I know what to do and I'm not scared."