Dear Abby | Mom suggests best approach to asking about gun safety

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:

  1. “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?”
  2. “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?”
  3. “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.