Carolyn Hax on Children and Guns

Carolyn Hax is an advice columnist, people send her questions, although I think this question might be made up. The top of the article said: “Adapted from a recent online discussion.”

Dear Carolyn,

My husband and I have two children (5 and 7). We also own firearms, both for sport and personal protection. We are shining examples of how to do gun ownership right. We have attended safety courses, passed background checks, and are fully permitted. We also keep the guns safely locked away at all times. Without the code to the safe, they are not accessible.

In addition to this, our children know exactly where the guns are stored, know not to go near guns, and know exactly how dangerous guns are.

My 7-year-old apparently told his best friend that we own guns, and the child told his mother, who called to inform me that her child will not be allowed in our house anymore and that I should be ashamed of myself for owning guns in a house full of kids.

Knowing about guns and how dangerous they are is good for kids. My kids have never been tempted to tamper with the guns, because they know the dangers.

I don’t want this mother spreading gossip that I am a crazy gun-owning bad mom all over town! Am I doing something wrong? What can I say to her and her child?

— Guns in the Home


You can invite the mother over to show her your setup, so she can make an informed decision.

She’s not the only one making what sound like politically tinged assumptions, by the way. She assumed the guns are handled irresponsibly, without bothering to ask. You, meanwhile, assume your children “know not to go near guns.” You have told them this, but can’t assume they will heed it. That’s the whole point of locked safes: The idea that a 5-year-old will do exactly as taught is ludicrous. Some will, but which ones? Nobody knows except in hindsight, when often it’s too late. So, you get a safe and lock it.

Since both of you could stand to tone down your certainty that you’re the one doing the right thing, have her come look for herself. Then, discuss the gun issue as two adults who both believe you are protecting your kids, versus two adults looking to protect a viewpoint.

Then accept her now-more-informed decision, even if it doesn’t change.

It seems to me Carolyn has a reading comprehension problem. Guns in the Home did say that her guns are kept safely locked away. While that can mean a gun safe, gun lock, or locked drawer, is besides the point. They are inaccessible to children.

With that said, I don’t think pro-gun people are proud to pass a background check or eager to take one. I’m a law-abiding person, that doesn’t mean I enjoy getting treated like a criminal every-time I buy a gun or get a concealed carry license.

As for worrying about anti-gun neighbors, my view is that if they’re anti-gun, chances are we’re not going to get along. I agree with the advice about educating the anti-gunner, if that’s even a possibility, but would I worry about gossip? Never.

One Response to Carolyn Hax on Children and Guns

  1. “Guns in the Home” needs to tell the other mother that her child is not allowed to go to homes which have no available means to protect him, as that is an unsafe environment.

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