Parents, explain something to me, please

While browsing news this morning, I ran across this screed. It’s in response to a woman — with an admitted anxiety disorder requiring treatment — wondering if she should ask about the presence of guns before sending her child away to a play date.

Dear Abby Says Asking About Guns In Homes Is ‘Off-Putting’
It is astonishing that in this day and age, when guns are the third leading cause of death for American children and we hear stories seemingly every other day about children getting access to adult’s guns, that anyone — let alone someone whose job is to give advice — would recommend that a parent be more concerned about not making another parent uncomfortable than about making sure their child is safe.

TL;DR is that Bland is shocked that possibly offending an acquaintance might take precedence over child safety “when guns are the third leading cause of death for American children.” (Which happens to be one of the latest lies being pushed by gun ban bunnies. They have to include gangbangers up to 24 years of age to get there.) But this is where I need some input from parents, since I’ve never been one.

Do you parents normally send your kids — I mean those too young to understand that guns aren’t toys — off to the homes of people you don’t know well enough to have a feel for how safe they are?

Do parents typically not teach their children not to screw around with other people’s property — guns, in this case — without permission?

Do parents encourage their children to hang out with other children who lack respect for people’s property?

As a non-parent, my experience is limited to my own childhood, observing friends and relatives with their children. Bog knows, my parents told me to stay away from certain kids and homes. None of my nieces, nephew, grand-nieces, grand nephew have even tried to get my — secured — firearms.

Or, going to some friends for example: I used to spend a fair bit of time with a couple with two young children, the oldest a boy about three years old at the time. Any time they had guns out for cleaning, they’d let the boy watch. And handle guns and parts under supervision. And all the while telling him about the Four Rules; conversationally rather than as a lecture, in simple language a 3y/o could grasp.

And to make sure he understood that guns can destroy things and people, we took him to the range. We fitted him with hearing and eye protection (which he wanted anyway, since the grown-ups were putting on their own). I set up a milk jug full of water on the target line, and shot it with .45 ACP (I believe I was usually running 185 gr. Federal Hydra-Shoks back then), as our young student watched.

He was impressed. I didn’t know eyes could get that wide.

To the best of my knowledge, he never ever “played” with a gun. Because he knew what they could do.

In another case, I attended a camping event which included a lot of shooting: a pistol competition, pistol and rifle classes, and near-continuous informal target practice. The camping area was on elevated ground, and there was a trail leading down to the valley where the range was set up with the firing line facing the other side of the valley.

Much of the time there was a five year-old boy parked at the trail head. Small .22 rifle slung on his shoulder (Chipmunk, I think, but can’t swear to), and a belt with pouches for his muffs, safety glasses, targets, and ammunition. Any time an adult approached the trail head, the youngster would speak up very politely. “Excuse me, sir. Are you going to the range?”

“Yep.”

“Could I go with you? I want to shoot, but my parents say I can only go to the range with an adult.”

So I took him to the range, since I also happened to know his father and knew the drill. That boy was one of the safest shooters I’ve seen; strict adherence to the Rules (not positive, but I think he might have been muttering the Four Rules to himself as we walked to the firing line). Not a bad shot either,

Because his entirely reasonable and responsible parents had taught him firearms safety and shooting. Is the circle of friends, family, and acquaintances I hang out with really that much more safety-aware than most parents?

A more general example: I live in a state where an estimated one in three people own guns (I think that’s pretty low, but we’re not the sort to tell strangers on the phone a lot of details). In my small town rural area, the anecdotal rate is more like 90%; most of the exceptions are military and Yankee transplantees who haven’t bought anything yet (although some have asked me for help on deciding what to buy). It seems to me that if fears of kids grabbing guns were the huge problem Ms. Bland and Mrs. Anxiety-meds believe, this county would have depopulated itself decades ago. It hasn’t, it’s growing, and I can’t recall the last accidental shooting by a minor, nor does a web search turn up anything.

So, real parents; who better represents reality? My responsible friends, or fearful folks being treated for anxiety?

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3 thoughts on “Parents, explain something to me, please”

  1. “Do you parents normally send your kids — I mean those too young to understand that guns aren’t toys — off to the homes of people you don’t know well enough to have a feel for how safe they are?”

    Nope — and that right there is the big thing. If you’re not someone I’d trust around my kid with guns present, you’re not someone I’d trust around my kid without guns present. Therefore, the presence of guns is not something I’ve ever concerned myself about.

    “Do parents typically not teach their children not to screw around with other people’s property — guns, in this case — without permission?”

    Yes, but see below.

    “Do parents encourage their children to hang out with other children who lack respect for people’s property?”

    All children lack respect for people’s property. Not always, and not intentionally. Being a kid entails being curious and not having a lot of self-control to put the rules before that curiosity. Respect for people’s property is an indicator that you’re not dealing with a child (regardless of the age of the person in question). All you can really do when it comes to guns is what you did above: Show them what guns do, caution them not to fuck around, and hope they remember when it counts.

  2. Tom is correct … and so are you! His point about children by definition not knowing boundaries yet (and when they do, they have at least partially shed the label) is quite valid, and your other ones are well founded, maybe on the bigger picture. The real issue is a combination of trust of other adults, and trust that what you have taught your own child holds. But “the presence of guns” is subsidiary to that.

  3. The anti gun people need an angle because they are losing the argument and what better argument then it’s for the children sake, it’s ain’t about guns it’s about the children.

    In my blue state they even introduced legislation to make it mandatory to lock up your guns to protect children but how do they assure that? Well they also put into that bill that the law could come into your home to make sure even without a warrant if you owned a gun, the good news is it never made it out of committee, the bad news is they will keep trying.

    The parents I know who are gun people kids know about the danger of guns however a couple of decades ago I had some parents who were not gun people who wanted me to work with their kid about guns because of concerns they had with that kid, the problem was before I could a few weeks later that kid went to his school after shooting both of his parents and shot up the school. I don’t know if I could have helped this kid but I did do some research into him and found they had him on meds and then I started researching other kid shooters and found many if not all of them also were on meds.

    The problem with the anti gun people is they really are not about the welfare of our kids, all they want is to outlaw guns, kids are just an avenue for them and in their zeal they are causing us to not concentrate on the issues that really need our focus the most for the benefit of all of us including our children.

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