Bad Advice Over Parental "Gun Talks"

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t really have worried about the parent of one of my kid’s friends wanting to have a gun talk with me. What I mean by “gun talk” is the conversation where the other parents ask if I have guns and if they’re kept away from curious hands. I wouldn’t have worried about it because, well, people weren’t so almost universally demonized for being pro-gun.

In this day and age, though, it’s different. The world is quite different.

And yet, we keep getting left-leaning outlets giving people advice on how to have the gun talk with other parents. And they’re being pretty stupid.

In our current political climate, few issues are as politically charged as gun rights. And as is the case with many controversial issues, that can cause people to steer clear of the topic entirely to avoid confrontation or arguments.

One thing that growing up with family members who hunt helped teach me is that, often, just because someone owns a gun doesn’t mean they’re a diehard NRA anti-regulation enthusiast who envisions an armed vigilante deterring crime on every street in America. Reasonable conversations are possible, even between people who are gun enthusiasts and massive pacifists who would never own one.

Look, if you come up to me and start asking me about my guns in this current environment, you’re likely to be told where to stuff it.

The reason is that it’s impossible for someone who writes crap like this not to signal they’re a sanctimonious jackass who thinks they’re better than me because I have guns.

For me, the awkwardness of discussing gun ownership with parents whom I’m friendly with but don’t know that well wasn’t the issue. The bigger stumbling block was not knowing the right questions to ask. Thankfully, SafeKids.org has a great list of gun safety tips that can serve as a guide for parents who don’t know enough about proper gun safety and storage to even begin to question it. Some key queries could include:

  • How and where are guns stored and how are they secured?
  • Do you have loaded guns in your home?
  • Is ammunition stored separately?
  • Are the gun locks being used child-resistant?
  • When a gun is out of storage, is it always in your immediate possession?
  • What conversations have you had with your child or children about guns? Do they understand that they are never to touch them, access, them, or use them without your supervision?

There are also good tips for talking with kids about guns in other homes. Those conversations include making sure that they understand that, in real life, guns hurt and kill people, unlike what they may see on television or in games. Kids should also understand that, if they find a gun, they should never touch it and they should tell an adult immediately.

Now, some of these questions are probably fine. Asking if the guns are kept away from young hands or, if not, at least in the parents’ immediate possession is just fine.

I’m not about to tell you or anyone else where I store my guns and how they’re secured. That’s because if someone decided to liberate me of my guns, this is the information they would want. With the current ammo situation, I’m also not telling you where I keep that either. Hell, ammo’s about as valuable as my guns these days.

I will give the author credit for talking to his own children about guns in other people’s homes.

See, most of the issues we have with kids and guns is when kids don’t respect other people’s property and start plundering through another’s belongings, finds a gun, then act stupidly with it. If you, at a minimum, teach kids to stop messing with other people’s stuff, a lot of the accidental shootings of children would disappear.

Additionally, they should be told that last line in the quote. A lot.

Hell, if you do that well enough, you probably don’t need to pester your kids’ friends’ parents about whether they have guns or not. Asking questions like those above, particularly about where and how my weapons are secured, isn’t going to yield you productive answers. Instead, you’re probably going to get told to go the hell away.

If you’re going to have a gun talk with another parent, you need to give them enough room to not acknowledge they have guns or give any specifics. Ask, “I’m not asking if there are guns or not, but I need to know there’s nothing for young hands to accidentally get hold of. If there is or would be anything like that in your home, is it secured from curious hands?”

You can’t just come out and ask a parent, “Do you have guns?” Not in the day and age where so many of us have been told we’re totally cool with children being murdered because we disagree with someone else on the solution.

Use your head, for crying out loud.

Then again, I’m pretty sure no one who writes for Lifehacker has ever really had to use their head. They damn sure aren’t interested in talking to one of us and getting our input.