Do You Ask Other Parents If They Own Guns?

Is a parent's gun ownership a private issue, or a matter another parent is entitled to know about?

As a parent, do you believe that you have the right to know if a home your child visits contains guns?

Some parents I’ve spoken with emphatically say “yes;” they believe that it is a matter of their child’s safety when they visit another’s home, and they have a right to know. Even though they were uncomfortable asking, they do so before allowing their child to play at the home of a new playmate. 

Many gun-owning parents told me they don’t mind the question, and they usually treat it as a way to open up a dialogue about gun safety, and other safety concerns in their home, as well as the home of the other parent.

But a few shared that they are still somewhat offended by the assumption that another parent feels they have a right to know such information, and that the presence of guns automatically made their home "unsafe."

As your children increasingly choose their own social connections, it can be a real challenge to peacefully co-exist and interact with the families of the children with whom your kids become friends; and especially so when they don’t share certain key beliefs and convictions, nor operate in the same ways yours does.

Many differences can be navigated around, but there are a few particularly sensitive issues that seem to be real “deal-breakers” I've noticed in talking with other parents.

Whether or not guns are kept in the home is one of those deal-breakers for some.

Both pro and anti-gun parents shared that they are both concerned about their children’s safety around firearms, but disagree about how to handle the issue.

Anti-gun parents told me that they feel strongly that they do not want their children to be in homes that have them. They often cited concerns about children's curiosity. "Kids will be kids," they said. Among those who expressed adamant feelings that their children not be exposed to guns, there are those who also choose to prohibit toys, play, and programming that involve guns, and discourage associations with playmates who do.

Other parents said that firearms are simply a part of their family’s life, sometimes for generations, and they feel equally strongly that the way to ensure a child’s safety around firearms (in their home or anyone else’s) is to teach their children from an early age how to respect and properly use them. Often they portray guns as "tools not toys." They are not concerned with imaginary play, and stress the difference between imagination and what a real gun is capable of.

Gun-owning parents said that the concern shouldn’t be so much about whether or not guns are present in a home, but rather how those guns are handled and secured.

Have you ever asked another parent, or have you been asked, about guns in the home? Is it a "deal-breaker" for you, or affected your relationships with other parents? How have you handled your child's relationship with their friend?


If you would like more information about gun safety:

National Rifle Association: The Eddie the Eagle GunSafe Program

Common Sense About Kids and Guns: Safety Tips


Kirsten Branch May 25, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Thanks for weighing in, Harry!
Beau Hunk May 26, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Harry has succeeded in making a great deal of sense on a touchy subject. I wish there were more people like him - thoughtful and rational.
Jack Weir May 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Three points on firearms responsibility and education: 1. Every child should know how to deal with firearms, whether their family owns guns or not - See the NRA's Eddie Eagle program: STOP; DON'T TOUCH; TELL A GROWNUP. 2. Every gun owner is accountable to ensure that firearms are not available to children, except under appropriate adult supervision. 3. Many gun owners are reluctant to make known their ownership, for fear of targeting by anti-gun groups, overly-zealous LEO's or criminals seeking to steal firearms.
Harry Jenkins May 29, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Unfortunately, children and grown ups are supposed to do a whole host of things that they don't.


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