How Gun Control Made A Simple Question Toxic

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As a parent, I do worry about my children being hurt by all sorts of things. As a gun owner, I take great pains to make sure my kids understand how to safely coexist with firearms. I have little doubt that most of you have done the same.

However, a lot of parents don’t. This is especially true of parents who don’t own guns at all.

Those parents also worry about their children, though, and they get a lot of advice on how to keep their kids safe from accidental shootings.

On Monday morning, outside Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami, doctors and local leaders reminded parents about the importance of gun safety and preventing unintentional injuries.

June 21st is ASK Day, which stands for “Asking Saves Kids”.

“A question as simple as ‘is there an unlocked gun in your house’ can indeed save your child’s life,” said Dr. Alana Arnold who works in the pediatric emergency department at Jackson North Medical Center. “A recent study from the Journal of Pediatrics found that just over one-third of all firearms injuries seen in the emergency department were in fact, unintentional injuries.”

And let’s be clear, it really is a simple question.

In an ideal world, such a question wouldn’t really be that big of a deal. You would probably answer with something like, “Yes, but it’s in my control at all times and there’s no chance any child would be able to access it,” or maybe, “Yes, but it’ll be secured before your child arrives.” Maybe you’d answer it some other way.

However, it’s not a simple question. Not anymore.

Today, that question comes with a great deal of baggage. The gun-control movement has made it so anyone asked that question doesn’t see a concerned parent. They see an ideological opponent ready to pass judgement on them. They see someone who may just decide to sever the children’s bonds of friendship as a way to punish WrongThink.

After all, we live in a world where people want to mandate gun storage by law.

We are making every effort to move the needle on safe firearm storage. But as with other causes of injury we’ve worked to prevent, we need the weight of policies and laws behind us.
We need every state in the nation to enact stringent safe storage, or “child access prevention” laws. These laws require gun owners to store firearms securely, keeping them away from children and other unauthorized users. Safe storage laws work. States with them see 59 percent fewer firearm fatalities among children. People listen more attentively when I can say, “Not only is it safer, it’s also the law.”
Public-health messaging, too, is more effective with the law behind it. Just like billboards that warn us to “click it or ticket” and “drive sober or pull over,” I dream of memorable slogans that make securing firearms as natural as buckling seat belts.

So here we are, with parents being advised to ask a question that no gun owner actually wants to answer. Especially if they live in a mandatory storage state. Saying you have an unsecured gun don’t the premises is basically admitting to breaking the law. Why would you do that?

And that’s only one small aspect of the issue.

The question itself has become so loaded as to become toxic. It’s not an opening to a frank and honest discussion about child safety, it’s loaded with judgement and scorn. It’s part of the attempt to stigmatize gun ownership. What’s worse is that we all see it.

The question should be simple enough, but it’s not, and gun control advocates are the reason we see it that way.

Because of them, no one wants to admit to owning a firearm publicly. It’s why gun groups on Facebook tend to feature a lot of discussion about losing their guns in tragic boating accidents. It’s that no one wants to admit to having anything to any non-gun person simply because we don’t trust them to keep that knowledge to themselves.

Telling a parent there’s a gun means someone knows you have something, knowledge you’d prefer they didn’t have should confiscation become a thing. Even if that’s not on the horizon right away, you never know what someone will do with that knowledge.

So rather than having a frank discussion surrounding child safety, we end up having to decide what their real motivations are and whether we should even bother to answer. How is that really productive?

Of course, it’s not, but I’m starting to think that’s by design.

Jul 31, 2021 8:30 AM ET