Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gun Control a la Mollie

Mollie writes:

It has never been a quiet controversy. The right to keep and bear arms is a right guaranteed to every American citizen since the second amendment was ratified in December of 1791. But over the years, politics, social environments, gun technology and political correctness have morphed gun control into a mini-war for folks who otherwise would agree on everything else.

I've never been a fan of guns. I don't like the big noises they make, the rebound I experience when I shoot one, and the ever pressing stress owning a gun brings to a parent. When John and I married, I couldn't care less if he had guns and as a result, he started collecting them.

When we brought Peter home from the hospital after his birth in 1982, we agreed that we'd keep the actual guns under lock and key in one spot, the 'action' locked away in another spot, and bullets and other ammo in a third secure spot. John started 'loaded his own' ammo at some point in order to save money, we kept the supplies for loading locked up, and life moved on smoothly.

John is an avid gunman, and he owns quite a few. I could care less if he sold all his guns tomorrow. How do two polar opposites make things work?

Aside from keeping the guns and ammo under lock and key, we also chose not to give our kids toy guns. We didn't get them toy holsters and revolvers, air rifles, BB guns, etc. We maintained a very serious attitude about gun ownership and encouraged our kids not to play war games (that worked until they were in high-school and electronic games, anyway!). We did get the boys those big water pistols that soaked everyone with water on a hot day, but that was the extent of our frivolity.

So it's no surprise that our boys grew up respecting guns. Our oldest is now in the military and must carry a weapon at times. The youngest doesn't have a gun and has shown no interest in obtaining one. But they both respect each other and their father's love of all things that go "boom."

In the end, it isn't the gun that poses a problem in the home. It's the parents' attitudes about gun maintenance that is lethal. When the boys were toddlers, we locked up the cleaning supplies, the medications, and, yes, the guns and related paraphernalia. And the boys were never left to their own devices. When the boys were small, they were NEVER unsupervised, and when they were older, they were much more respectful of anything that represented gunpowder.

When Peter was 7 or 8, he went to a friend's house where guns were left "lying around." He came home and spoke with us about it. He was a pragmatic little guy and knew that you just don't leave a weapon, loaded or unloaded, accessible in anyway to a minor. It was one of our many 'golden rules.' As a result of his telling us, we agreed that he couldn't go back to his friend's house, although the friend could still come to ours. It didn't go over with the child's folks, but then, who cared?

They say guns don't kill people, people kill people. For the parent who chooses to own guns, I say mazel tov! As long as they are locked away and handled responsibly when in use, I say teach the kids about gun safety, personal responsibility and openness. And if you decide NOT to own weapons, I say mazel tov as well as you are choosing to not complicate your lives with one more in-house danger. In the case of these kiddies, I also recommend teaching gun safety as stringently as you teach kids about illegal drugs, strangers and other every day hazards since it's a big world and not everybody's folks are prudent.

So, instill your attitudes in your kids and when they are adults, they will be able to comfortably choose for themselves if guns will be a part of their household. And when you are lecturing them on personal responsibility, be sure that you are leading by example.

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