J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

The Awkward Question That Could Save Your Child’s Life

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Every time our seven-year-old daughter has a playdate with a new friend, Kia asks a simple question.

“Do you have any guns in the house?”

She gets nervous about asking, but so far nobody has been offended by the question. Her own father keeps a gun in the house. So do several of our friends. But it’s something we want to know about. If the answer is yes, the follow-up question is:

“What’s your gun safety plan?”

The general reaction to the question is “I should be asking the same question.” Accidental injury and death is a real threat to children in the United States. A few sobering bullet points:

The real numbers are even higher. Many accidental gun deaths are reported as homicides. The same article gets into details re: what ages children are most at risk. Three-year-olds, who are old enough to manipulate objects but don’t understand the dangers guns pose, are particularly vulnerable.

This is not a screed against personal gun ownership. It’s a just a reminder. Kids are curious. Kids will explore every nook and cranny of your house. Kids do things without considering or understanding the consequences. Kids and loaded, unsecured guns are a potentially lethal combination.

Don’t leave your damn guns lying around. If there is even a small chance of a child setting foot in your house, store them locked and unloaded.

And ask that awkward question.

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8 Comments

  1. Wow. Just wow that in the US you have to ask these question. But you are right, you do have to ask and, as with any child safety questions, family friendly folk will not mind you asking it at all.

  2. We have firearms for personal safety but you are right in that there is always a risk. Great reminder to keep our kids safe.

  3. Totally necessary. Not just guns – the same pettains to dangerous pets. It was real sad to read an article from two years ago that a pet python that escaped its tank killed a 3-year-old girl in her sleep. It’s atrocious – why do people let these things happen?

  4. And when the terrorist or armed burglar comes in just ask them to politely wait while you fetch the gun from the safe amd load it…

    • Sure, loaded guns at the ready are more effective for home defense. But I would rather use security measures that don’t endanger children in my home, even if marginally less effective.

      Here’s an interesting Harvard paper about how guns are actually used in the home (most often to “intimidate intimates”) and how the “guns for self-defense” narrative is largely mythical. “Grandma shoots robber” is a good story when it happens but it just doesn’t happen that often. Children shooting themselves accidentally, and guns used to intimidate family members, are both far more common.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

      • I think my point was more if you have to lock your gun away unloaded then what’s the point at all. Here in Ireland we have very strict gun laws, very few people have them, yet we have a homicide rate about a third of the US.

        • We have many recreational shooters (target practice, hunters, etc.) in the U.S. so there are reasons for gun ownership other than personal defense.

          A lower homicide rate in the U.S. is something to strive for. Gun control works well on the island of Hawaii, not so much in Illinois (Chicago has a high gun homicide rate) where guns come in from neighboring states. We need a national plan here.

          Congrats on the McGregor UFC win!

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