March 27, 2008

Personal Choices and Playdates

There was a conversation a few months back on one of the internet boards that I frequent that caught my attention. I've thought about it a handful of times since then, meaning to post but always forgetting. I'm not sure what triggered my memory but I haven't been able to shake the conversation lately.

It's written in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution that: "A well regulate Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".
There is much debate over the grammatical reading of this Amendment and how in turn it should be enforced. That it neither here nor there, and not the topic of this post.

Personally, I believe strongly in the right to bear arms. Although I do believe that it is a privilege and has the ability to be revoked. Common sense says that you need not suffer from a mental instability and that you need to be able to pass a criminal background check in order to buy a firearm. I also believe firmly in the stance that some states have taken in terms of gun privileges -- some states (Maine, Illinois and New Jersey for example) will not allow those behind on their child support to obtain a hunting license until their arrears are reconciled. Along with my belief though comes a strong sense of responsibility towards safety. Weapons are always locked up and gun safety, in terms of education, will be forefront with our children.

I understand that many people do not harbor this same belief. Many people feel that guns do not belong in the home and can only attribute to gun violence. I respect that, even if I don't believe it myself.

The original conversation stemmed from someone asking about home security measures. Mainly what other families were implementing, and why they chose the measure that they did. As topics often do it changed direction and went from a conversation about home security to the right to bear arms and having guns in the home with children.

What struck me though is an attitude that one mom had. She clearly stated that she would NEVER allow guns in their home, whether real or toy and that before she ever let her children go play at a friends' house she always asked the parents if there were guns in the home. If there were she wouldn't allow her child to play in the house. Under any circumstances. Her view was that gun owners couldn't be responsible and she feared for the safety of her child. That no matter how many safeguards were in place, the children would find the weapons and it could lead to a fatal situation.

To me, I thought this was ludicrous. I wholeheartedly agree that some gun owners are irresponsible. Handguns shouldn't be kept loaded and in the drawer of a nightstand. Shotguns shouldn't be kept loaded and stashed next to the front door. Responsible gun owners will ensure that weapons are not accessible to anyone besides themselves, especially children. Aren't they other dangers that could be present in a home, even a home without guns?

I know that a great deal of my belief is founded in the household (and community) in which I was raised. Although two very separate entities, guns and religion held similar status. You knew that everyone had very firm beliefs about both but you never brought it up. It wasn't that they were hush-hush topics. It was just that people respected the beliefs/opinions of others and you didn't let what could be differences infringe upon your relationships.

As KT grows older, my concern is that this very issue will be raised. Why should my daughter be secluded from having friends in her home because of the choices I make? I'm not breaking any laws and one of my forefront concerns is her safety. That doesn't make me a bad parent, does it? What about children who have parents that are in law enforcement? Should they be excluded from hosting playdates because one of their parents is required to bring their service weapon home? But if a parent thinks that it's okay to let their children play in the home of a law enforcement office that has a weapon, why not ours? Just because we're not required by our profession to have a weapon doesn't mean we don't take the same precautions, or even more, than someone who is required to have one.

**Actually, now that I think about it, what triggered this memory was a post on a board that mentioned a recent school shooting and children having accessibility to weapons in their own homes.**


KarenMM said...

I am one of the people that believe that people have a right to bear arms but I will NEVER have a gun in my house. If you want to keep one, then that is up to you and if you have one in the house then that is fine by me. I will still come and visit you and bring M over.

However, that is because I know you and realize that you are a responsible enough adult. If I felt that you were not responsible then no, I would not visit.

My sister and her husband have guns in their home. She has taught her children gun safety. And has taught her children that if they go to a friend's house and they actually see a gun they are to tell the adult there right away to put it up. If the adult does not (or there is not adult) then the child is to leave and not touch the gun.

Not all parents are like that and not all kids will listen. But like everything else in life, you teach your children the right thing to do and just hope they do it.

P.S. Like the new look of the blog.

Flying Monkeys said...

Well, we don't have any but you know that. I like to shoot them at a range but they make me nervous to have in my home and I grew with them in the house. Maybe when the boys are older but not now.
I don't know that I would ask the parents of the children that I allow play dates with whether or not they had guns. (I actually think most of them do.) Mainly because I assume my friends aren't dumbasses and keep their weapons locked up and unloaded. Maybe I should rethink that because I don't think we had a gun cabinet in our house until my brothers were teens and it's not like you had to be Houdini to get into it.
Personally I think if a kid (or anyone) wants a gun to shoot up a school or commit crimes with, they don't have to go very far. It doesn't have to come out of the family arsenal.
I'm doubting that your enthusiasm for guns is going to be the limiting factor for KT's play dates in the place you currently reside. I would bet that it will be the other unmentionable you listed because that is what we are dealing with.

~*~DawnSC~*~ said...

My DH collects guns of all kinds. We have guns in the house for protection sake.

When/if we ever have children, precautions will be taken to ensure that they won't have access to them. As they get older, they'll be taught proper gun education.

In the wrong hands and without knowledge of how to handle guns, there can certainly be incidents where unfortunate accidents can occur.

All that being said, the woman who wouldn't let her child visit homes with guns, may be acting to the extreme, but I suppose she figures "better safe than sorry." Like you said though, there are many other things in a home that can prove to be harmful or fatal.

pam said...

Interesting topic. I think that you do have to evaluate your child's friends and whether or not you want them at other people's houses based on their standards, but I think there is a difference. You get to know the parents and see how responsible are the parents. Are they keeping them in a locked safe? Or are they in the nightstand. I think that whether parents are responsible with your child (and theirs) far outweighs whether or not they have guns. There are some parents I wouldn't want Miss L at just because I don't think they would watch are responsible. Who knows if they have guns or not...

Andrea said...

I remember a similar conversation from FF.

We have a gun in the house. We also don't have kids and guests do not know where it is or have access to it (it's in our bedroom). The animals can't get to it, either.

I think the only ppl who should not be allowed to have guns are: anyone convicted of a violent crime, the mentally instable, and maybe people who have a moral obligation to something going unfulfilled, like your child support example.

My mom was pretty strict when I was growing up. That's prob why I'm so liberal now (I went nuts when I got my freedom, lol). My mom told me that if I ever got a gun, she wouldn't come to my house. Needless to say, she doesn't know we have one. When I was growing up, my mom was one of those moms who had to make sure the parents were home, that there were no guns present, the parents weren't weird crackheads or something, etc. before I could visit a friend. I can only remember one instance in which she wouldn't let me go to someone's house for the fact that her parents had a gun in the house. I was allowed to play outside in the street with the girl (she was a neighbor), and go in the house very briefly when my mom could see me. And the girl was allowed to come to my house all she wanted. I never really had a problem with it, and I was like 5 or so at the time.

I don't believe the gun thing was an issue when I was older (like a teenager) but I was always taught that guns are bad and blah blah blah.

I can see your point, but I can also my mom's point. I think that if it comes up you could offer to show the parent where the gun(s) is/are kept to reassure them that their kid is safe in your home. You can't make someone accept something they are not willing to accept, but you can open their mind a bit and maybe they will grow to be less closed minded.