Guns and SleepoversJohn Cave Osborne
Although I, myself, am not a hunter, many of my friends are. And my daughter is friends with many of my friends’ children. This means that there are times when my daughter will be playing at a home that houses a weapon, and I’ve never once stopped to ponder that fact. Until, that is, I read an article written by a mom who has one question for every set of parents whose children invite her son over to play.
“Do you keep a gun in your home?”
The query embarrasses her son. But Maria Stuart doesn’t care one bit, as her recent piece on Salon would attest. Anytime her 11-year-old is invited over to someone’s house with whom she’s not familiar, Stuart Googles the parents’ names. She also goes into the house for a “look-see” when dropping her child off. And she doesn’t leave without asking the question that makes her son cringe.
So far, she’s yet to find a parent who owns a gun. But if she ever were to, Stuart would then ask to see how the gun is secured. Stuart, herself, concedes that she might be a touch overprotective. If so, she blames it on all her years at the local paper where she was privy to her fair share of accidental shootings involving children.
Like all of us, Stuart has heard the old adage to which gun advocates constantly cling: “It’s people who shoot people, not guns.” And while she acknowledges the element of truth behind it, she also points out that “the number of accidental deaths by gun far, far outweigh accidental stabbings or stranglings. Those kinds of accidental deaths don’t just happen because someone forgot to lock up the carving knife or put the silk scarf into the drawer.”
Just as I was wondering if the Arizona shooting played a role in the timing of Stuart’s post, she alluded to the tragedy. She wrote that her son was particularly saddened by the death of 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green. When he asked his mom why the little girl was among those shot, Stuart responded with three simple words. “She was there.”
“I guess we’ll just have to be careful,” her son replied.
“If only that were true,” Stuart wrote. “If being careful would keep us from the grips of violence, well, what a wonderful world it would be. The only truth in all of this is that sometimes violence is random, unpredictable, and if we are always on alert for it, we’ll go mad.”
Yet by Googling parents’ names, conducting impromptu “look-sees” during drop offs, and asking parents questions pertaining to their second-amendment rights, Stuart seems, herself, to be one who is “always on alert.” And while she’s found a good place for her interrogations to start, shouldn’t she keep going? After all, she’s only touched upon one of the many perils our children face.
Shouldn’t she also ask the parents if they have any pornography in the house? What about booze? I know that, unlike a loaded gun, those things can’t kill a child instantaneously, so perhaps they’re bad examples, but a car wreck could kill instantly. Should Stuart ask parents about their driving record?
Please allow me to make one thing clear. I’m not into guns. I don’t keep one in the house. In fact, I wish there were fewer guns. And, like Stuart, I wish they were harder to get. But I’m also not about to deny anyone their 2nd amendment right, nor am I about to play 20 questions with every semi-stranger who will even ever-so-briefly briefly enter the lives of my children.
But if I were to, I suppose a logical place to start would be with guns. So while I would never ask parents about weapons, it’s hard for me to find fault with a mother who does so out of a desire to keep her child safe.
What do you think? Do you ask your child’s friends’ parents if they keep a gun in their house?