3 Ways To Talk To Parents Who Fear Guns

Education, not confrontation, is the best way to handle a communication problem, and that’s what irrational fears and misunderstandings about firearms in a family setting revolve around. Read a few ideas on how to resolve it. MORE

nervous parents

SOURCE: NRA Family, by Brad Fitzpatrick

When I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital, my wife and I received a lot of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, on topics ranging from sleep cycles to feeding to treating diaper rash and colic. Most of the advice was thoughtful, and it helped me wade through those first few exhausting weeks of fatherhood. But one particular directive struck me: A woman that came by the house to give my daughter’s cheeks a squeeze, stuck a bent finger in my face, and said, “You need to do something about all those guns. Keep them locked up, at least.”

Admittedly, I know precious little about diaper rash or colic, but I know guns. And I could read between the lines when she said keep them locked up, at least. Translation: You really should get rid of your guns because you have a kid.

I grew up in a house with guns. Maybe you did too. If guns were innately dangerous we wouldn’t have made it this far in life. But there are those that feel that all guns are dangerous, in large part because the only exposure they have to firearms comes via news outlets that paint all guns and gun owners with a broad, bloody brush. There will come a day when my daughter will climb onto the school bus for the first time and step out into the big world. And I know too that she will make friends with kids whose parents don’t want their child hanging out with that gun writer. So, how do we handle those parents? How do we help them to understand that just because I own guns does not make me irresponsible? Here are a few key points that you need to keep in mind when talking to parents who don’t want their child playing in a house with guns.

1. Find Common Ground:
The parent who refuses to allow their child to come to a house with firearms doesn’t want their child to be hurt or killed. Guess what? I am a parent, I have guns, and I don’t want to see my child or anyone else’s hurt or killed, either. Guns are like automobiles, votes, or gasoline and matches in that their use — good or bad — depends on the merit of the individual who controls them. Frankly, there are people with whom my daughter doesn’t ride in a car, not because cars are inherently bad, but because I don’t trust the driver.

2. Educate:
The first key to dealing with a parent who is anti-gun is not to engage in a war of words but rather to explain to them that the myths perpetuated by anti-gun outlets are not true. Tell them that, as a gun owner and a parent, you are acutely aware of the fact that irresponsible gun handling can lead to injury, but help them understand that groups like the NSSF and NRA are working to help educate people about safe gun handling. There’s a widespread notion among anti-gun forces that groups like the NRA are somehow against gun safety, which could not be further from the truth. Tell these parents that gun groups are at the forefront of gun safety, leading the charge toward better security for firearms and gun education for all. Ask them if they’ve ever shot a gun and invite them to the range, or invite them to review NRA safety programs designed for kids, like Eddie Eagle.

3. Shoulder the Responsibility:
I don’t know your kid. I don’t know if they’ve had any exposure to guns save the endless theatrical violence they witness in television and movies, but I’m certainly not going to allow my guns to reach your child’s hands. The responsibility of safe gun handling lies on the shoulders of gun owners, and we need to accept that responsibility. That’s a powerful message to advocates of strict gun control; I don’t believe that this responsibility lies with the government but rather with the individual, and to preserve that right I intend to take care to see that my guns are safe and secure. Parents ultimately have the right to allow their child to go or not go into anyone’s home. But it needs to be understood that if you don’t allow your child to come to my home for fear that there are guns then that is an attitude of ignorance, and it perpetuates the belief that all guns — and all gun owners — are bad.

gun with lock

EDITORS NOTE: I have been through this raising my sons. I got them involved in 4H Shooting Sports as soon as I could, and even had a couple of “converts” come join us after accepting an invitation to attend an event. I was a stay-at-home dad and came into contact with many concerned parents. My general response to “Aren’t you afraid of your kids being around guns?” Was: “No. I’m afraid of your kids being around guns…” Point clearly made. It’s all about education and experience.

One thought on “3 Ways To Talk To Parents Who Fear Guns”

  1. My oldest son was 8 years old when I taught him about the dangers of shooting someone and explained it this way…
    I showed him a 22 long rifle cartridge and compared it in size with his index finger. The 22 was considerably smaller. Then I had him let me push his finger against his chest until he said it hurt his chest. Then I had him poke his finger at a glass bottle and showed him that it was much stronger than his chest. Then I had him shoot the bottle and watch it get blown apart. Then I told him, imagine what that little bullet would do to a person’s chest, maybe a friend or maybe even yourself if you mess around with firearms without being extremely careful where it’s pointing no matter what. Even if you think it’s unloaded. Then I pulled a trick on him and had him watch me unload it and then I had him aim downrange and pull the trigger. It startled the heck out of him when it went off. He asked about why it had a “bullet” in it when he saw me unload it. I just said that’s why you always treat it as though it’s loaded even if you just unloaded it. His eyes got big around and he did the home alone face when he realized what it could do to him or me or someone else.
    No I didn’t clean up the glass. This was a long time ago and nobody cared back then. We had a specific area we kept to and nobody shot anywhere else up in that part of the mountains. Later on they posted it no shooting so all the shooters who liked to shot at such reactive targets spread out looking for isolated places to shoot and not be bothered by “do gooders”. Said do gooders used that to get the entire Los Padres National Forest posted no hunting or shooting except on the official designated range run by a club under the forest service overview. I suspect that was not an unintended consequence. It also cost a lot to join the club and a lot of us couldn’t afford that and our gas and our arms. I was making $4.50 an hour at the time and that wasn’t great but I could afford a two bedroom half a duplex and a 10/22 that I got from a department store for $29.95.

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