Gun Safety

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In light of the tragedy in Newtown, I think more people have started talking about and considering gun safety, regulations, policy, and procedures. Regardless of where one stands in the debate, opinions are strong.

 

Needless to say, I have my own, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today, I want to pick all your brains a little bit and ask you this:

 

Before your kids go to a friend’s house (or neighbor’s or relative’s house, for that matter), do you ask if there are guns in the home? Do you inquire about their safety and storage?

 

I typically do not. And I feel horrible about that. I feel like I’ve been terribly remiss. True, my kids don’t go many places. And, yes, I’m usually with them the whole time. Yes, I know about my immediate family’s homes. And, of course, I’d love to say, “MY friends and family are all very safe and conscientious!!”  Wouldn’t we all?

 

But– the truth is– most of us don’t really know that about everyone we ever hang out with. Even if you know with certainty that someone has a gun safe (safe? chest? I’m so arms-illiterate), that doesn’t mean there isn’t a revolver in a nightstand someplace.

 

Still, it’s a sticky situation. It’s a hard question to ask without offending. It’s also hard to remember sometimes, to be honest. I’m a lot more likely to ask questions about the ginormous pool I can see plain-as-day in the backyard than I am about guns.

 

So, today, I really just want to open up the comments for dialogue about how to ensure our children are kept safe in homes with guns.

 

While I value and respect all of your opinions on gun laws and policy, that’s not what I’m looking to discuss today. For now, let’s support one another with our best suggestions for:

 

1) How (or if) you should ask about guns in the home.

2) What type of precautions you should make sure are in place before allowing your children to play there.

 

Thanks in advance for your respectful thoughts and advice!

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27 comments to Gun Safety

  • mlearley

    My kids are really young so I haven’t had to think about this yet so I’m interested to see what responses you get. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with coming out and asking the parents/family about guns in the home, if they are locked up in a secure place, etc. I think if these are other parents, then they should understand your concern and be open/honest with you. Personally, I would not be hurt if one of my kids’ parents asked me about this. Better to be safe than sorry!

    • I wouldn’t be hurt either, Michelle, but, then, I also don’t have them, so maybe that’s part of it? I don’t really know! It’s always interesting to get lots of viewpoints– definitely helps give a fuller picture. :)

  • Lindsay

    My son is two and we’ve already dealt with this issue. My husband’s family is big into hunting, and almost all of them are military or police officers. My family is really into hunting and even my grandparents have conceal and carry licenses. In our home, which we share with my in–laws, there are over ten. We’ve been asked about gun safety by a few people in nice and not so nice ways. When people are nice about it, we ask them to come over and have a gun safety lesson so that they aren’t nervous having their children at our house. When people attack us about our choices, we either meet them at a coherent location or we choose not to spend time with them (which has only happened once because there were other issues at play). We don’t let our son around them and we ask other people to even put away Nerf guns and water guns when we come over. (We are open with others about our guns and expect the same from friends. Family is easier because we know who has them and where they are stored.) He has seen or guns when we clean them but we are VERY strict about them. I’m personally not comfortable with guns, but my husband’s profession requires them so I require that I know how to handle them safely before they enter our home. Also, we have two safes– one for bullets and one for guns. They are fingerprint safes and require a code as well. Safety first!

    • Safety first, indeed! It is comforting to someone like me– who is, admittedly, NOT super knowledgable about guns– to read about the safety precautions you take. So, may I ask you how you prefer someone to ask about it? I honestly don’t *think* I’d come across as rude to anyone (since I tend to tip-toe rather than bulldoze ;) ), but I’m also afraid I’d say the wrong thing and offend…

  • Katie

    Interesting question. We are avid hunters so we have quite a few guns but they are safely locked up. Both hubby and I were taught at a young age about gun safety, how they are not toys, etc. I guess I have just assumed that others have our approach to gun education and storage but now that you bring this question up I realized that this is a very dangerous assumption. I don’t know how we will deal with this, our son is only 3 months old so we have some time to figure it out.

    • I know there are so, so many people who are very responsible gun owners and I never want to minimize that. I don’t think I’d necessarily be uncomfortable with my child in a home with guns– I’d just want to know they were secured and not accessible to the children.

      • Katie

        I didn’t think at all that you were trying to minimize the fact that many gun owners are responsible. I think my comment ended up coming out different than I intended….sorry! I was just thinking how I wrongly assumed that all gun owners would keep their guns secured; I’m sure most of them do but of course there are the minority that do not. Your questions at the end of the post made me realize that. I don’t have an answer to them, but it is good food for thought. This post brought out lots of good discussion :)

        • You worded your comment just fine, Katie! I understood what you were trying to say. :) Because this can be SUCH a divisive issue, I feel like I always want to clarify that I do not believe all gun owners are irresponsible people or that homes with guns should automatically be “off-limits”– it’s tricky to “toe the line” on a topic like this, if you know what I mean.

          • Katie

            I hear you! This is a touchy subject for sure. That’s one of the reasons I love your blog, your not afraid to bring up topics like this :)

  • Susan

    My son is now almost 12 and I have never asked a family if they owned guns. It seems in the LA area, I have not come across any guns owners (I’m sure they are out there but I haven’t met any.) I have had talks with my son regarding what he should do if he sees someone handling a real gun (I say “real” gun because boys his age play with a lot of Nerf guns.) I wouldn’t mind a family who keeps guns in a gun safe but wouldn’t want them just “laying around.” If my son was friends with someone who had guns in the home, I would probably have all the play dates at my house.

    • I think you’re in a similar situation to me, Susan… I haven’t really met any gun owners here (that I KNOW of), but I’m guessing they’re out there. Connecticut is not “gun country”, nor do we have oodles and oodles of hunters.

  • Kathy

    We are gun owners and both my husband and I have carry licenses. It has not been an issue with us or our family/friends because all of us have guns in our homes. We have days where we shoot targets and such. Gun safety is taught from birth. No person is ever allowed to be around them if they are not able to follow all the rules and safety procedures. The projects our sons take in 4-H are up to them except for shooting sports. We are very blessed that the instructor for our shooting club is Christian man who goes to our church and also happens to be a State Police Supervisor. He does a wonderful job of teaching safety and making it the priority while also teaching shooting skills. So we don’t have to ask at any houses that our children go to, because we already know that they all have them, they all follow similar procedures/policies, and all of our children have been trained from a very early age. So glad that that is one less thing we have to worry about. We don’t allow our children to go to houses of people that we are not very familiar with and therefore others don’t seem to ask to come to our home.

    • That’s great that you have a trustworthy instructor and a tight-knit community of like-minded people! I definitely wouldn’t say that everyone– or even MOST people– around here have guns… but there are definitely some. Makes it challenging to know for sure, I think.

  • Jennifer

    Personally I would not be upset if people asked me and I would just ask outright if I was concerned. “do you have guns in your home?” At that point if they do I am sure they will tell you how they keep them safe for their kids. In our state almost everyone does. If they don’t want to answer – don’t leave your kids alone there.

    I think it is often easy to tell the houses that are dangers by other outward signs. Personally I am more concerned about the other issues. There are way more teen pregnancies than teen shot with guns that were laying around. I think that these are moral issues of what is right and what is wrong. It may sound harsh but I do judge the families my kids will spend time with by these more visible clues of what values a family will impact my kids with.

    I believe strongly in children learning where food comes from and food at the the end of the day includes hunting. We do not have a single play gun in our home (although ruler, legos and other odd objects become guns consistently for play hunts). It may sound harsh but I would be more concerned with a family that gives their kids play guns than one that really has guns.

    • I think it’s great that you’re open to answering questions about guns in the home, without feeling offended. I think that, asked in a polite, direct manner, we should be able to have these conversations, as adults. :) I absolutely agree that there are other issues and concerns out there that are far more common than gun shot injuries and deaths. Still, though it is most certainly not my desire for them, I would be less devastated by a teen pregnancy than one of my children getting shot or shooting someone else…

  • Susan

    “More concerned with a family that gives their kids play guns than one that really has guns”

    That is a ridiculous statement. I try to be flexible about gun owners but statements like that make me want to vote for complete gun control (except for law enforcement.)

    • I never like to put words in anyone else’s mouth, but I read this statement more as a commentary on how those who are raised only viewing guns as “toys”, as opposed to going through safety courses that stress the dangers that exist without proper precautions, might be more likely to do something reckless. But, as I said, I don’t know for sure and maybe Jennifer will clarify if I’m misinterpreting…

      • Jennifer

        That is exactly what I meant. The reality is horrible things happen. People die in car accidents that were solely about bad timing. As a parent I try to focus on the things that are likely to happen. Not the odd thing that could. I can’t predict the future so I have no way of knowing if a freak accident will happen. I can however impact my kids education and who they choose to spend time with.

        It may sound harsh to some but the dose of real world medicine is that your child has a greater chance of dying by a million other ways than what happened in Newtown. And your child has a greater chance of being taken down a path of moral crisis than they will ever have of being hurt by a gun (or becoming pregnant as a teen). I used that as an example that it isn’t guns that kill people it is people that kill people. Just like it isn’t sex that makes a girl pregnant it is unprotected sex (which is an education issue).

        Personally a family that doesn’t own guns, doesn’t hunt, or trap shoot BUT still gives their young boys play guns to play with has some issues. I also think any complete ban on things sets kids up to either become obsessed with that thing and/or have know knowledge to protect themselves.

        I want to be very respectful here but it is hard to make the point without being blunt. The reality is that guns are tools that have been used for a very long time. You can not confuse a horrible things that happen and say “gun control” will solve them.

        This threat was about how to keep your kid safe. They way to keep your kid safe in all aspects of life is to teach, inform and provide moral example.

        I am a government regulator and my husband is in law enforcement. No amount of regulations are going to stop crazy people from doing crazy things uless you are willing to give up some of your freedoms like other counties.

        • I really appreciate your views and your further clarification here, Jennifer. While I will admit I have differing views on some points, I also totally acknowledge that there is NO perfect system and we all just have to do our best in weighing the issues and determining what we think might work or not work. You raise some very important issues here– thank you.

  • Susie

    I have five grown kids, and I have never asked anyone they visited if they had guns. I’ve had one person ask, the parent of a friend of my youngest (now 21) and I didn’t mind the question at all. They were also confident leaving Brian here, although my husband owned guns. I was impressed that they checked it out, really.

    • Honestly, I think I’d be impressed if someone checked it out, too, which is an important thing for me to consider. Maybe I’m worrying over-much about offending people when, really, as long as I stay polite and matter-of-fact, most people really wouldn’t care. Hmmm…

  • NOW I don’t think you need to even worry about polite/stepping on toes whatever. “Sandy Hook made me realize I should be asking about….” seems like a good non-judgy start up to the conversation. OUR guns are locked in a safe bolted to the basement floor tucked away in a not visible spot. I also have a wall safe in between the studs in my bedroom wall too high for my kids to reach. But I know 2 people who keep theirs loaded ON the night stand. That shocked me. But they feel certain their kids would never touch the gun because they “know better.” I think they are crazy lunatics. My kids know not to hit each other but we still have hitting issues every stinkin’ day.

    • This is why I love you, Heather. Even though you and I certainly have vastly different experience/comfort levels with guns, I think we have similar views on safety issues. And THANK YOU for the hitting analogy– you show pure common sense there that, sadly, some folks are lacking.

  • Also I bet you know gun people and just don’t know they are gun people. After we had a school shooting last February my friend (non-gun people) talked to her kids about seeing other kids with guns etc and they all were CERTAIN they knew no one with guns…though they’ve been in my house AND the house of one of those folks I mentioned with the loaded weapon on top of the nightstand.

  • Celine

    We definitely live in a state were you would think there aren’t many guns. Unfortunately it seems to simply be that it isn’t often talked about or mentioned.

    My first real conversation about guns was as a teenager taking a babysitting job for a couple that had a gun display cabnit in their living room. Even though I had been babysitting for a few years it was never a question I thought to ask until I took that job. It then became a standard question I asked.

    As a parent I have no hesitation simply asking another parent if they have guns in their home and how they are stored. If the person is offended it would raise some concern as to whether I should be leaving my children there.

    There are some people my children have spent time with that I have not asked but that is simply because from previous conversations I already know if they have guns and how they are stored. More then half of the families we are friends with are gun owners which is a bit funny because we definitely live in an area where gun.ownership does not seem common. Guns do make me nervous but it is more so because I have no first had experience with guns.

    I really feel that if you as a parent do not feel comfortable asking another parent if they have guns in their home and how they store them then you really should not be allowing your child to play at that persons house.

    • Good for you, Celine, for being so straight-forward and responsible… even as a teenager! I think that’s awesome. I also agree that the level of personal experience with guns can impact the comfort-level, for sure. You and I are in the same boat in that one…

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