Dear Readers: Today’s column is a continuation of yesterday’s about the importance of gun safety and parents feeling confident enough to raise the subject with other parents. Read on:
Dear Abby: I am a physician and the mother of four curious, intelligent, energetic boys. My primary job as a mom is to keep them healthy, love them and educate them.
I grew up in a small, conservative, gun-friendly community. My grandfather was a hunter. My friends growing up all owned guns at young ages. Many of them today own guns for hunting or because they are first responders. I don’t fear the gun. I fear the person who doesn’t respect its power enough to properly secure it.
As parents, we have an obligation to ask parents where our child will be spending time: “Do you have a gun in your home? Yes? How is it stored?” What we should be doing is coaching each other how to ask politely without giving offense. I practiced asking because I think the subject is touchy, but it does get easier with practice.
Over the years, I’ve developed a multitude of openings that allow me to go from funny to sincere quickly. The ultimate question, however, never varies:
- “You know, I’m so sorry to be ‘that’ mom, but since we don’t know each other well, I need to ask you about a safety issue. Please understand that my question isn’t a judgment – just something I need to ask. Do you keep guns in your home, and if so, how do you secure them?”
- “This may be me just being overprotective, but the news lately has me fearful, so I have to ask. Do you keep guns in the house, and if so, how do you secure them?”
- “I love how well our boys play together! It’s fun to see their energy have an outlet. But I have a question before their playdate at your house. It’s one that always makes me a little uncomfortable, so please forgive me if this seems forward. Do you keep guns on the premises, and if so, how do you secure them?”
This is simple information-gathering so I can make an informed decision for my kids. – Kemia Sarraf, MD, MPH
Dear Dr. Sarraf: Thank you for taking the time to write, and for providing a road map for other concerned parents to follow.