No, my son can’t come over to play

430_3161331 No, I’m sorry, my son can’t come over to play.

It’s not that I don’t trust you; I just don’t trust the gun that you have in your house.

Guns are powerful. I have held and fired several, and I never want to do it again. I learned enough that day to know that I never want to be around guns again.

When I had my first child more than four years ago, I didn’t give much thought to firearms. He was a sweet little baby – why would something as violent as a gun cross my mind?

But he’s older now, and he goes on play dates (with his little sister and me in tow, of course). Soon enough, he’ll want to go over friends’ homes without me, and it has made me think about my comfort level with where he could go.

I have to tell you: I’m uncomfortable with my child in your home. It isn’t personal at all. I like you, and I like your kids. I like your home. But I really don’t like your gun.

You might tell me that you keep your gun in a secure place with the safety on and the bullets stored somewhere else.

That’s great! Would the kids like to play at my house instead?

You might tell me that you have taught your kids about gun safety.

That’s a good lesson. How about Tuesday at my house?

You might tell me that your children know never to point a gun at someone else.

I’m really glad to hear that. Your son can stay for dinner if he wants!

You might tell me that responsible gun owners don’t make mistakes.

I think in most cases, you’re right. But then there’s the Idaho mother who was killed when her son fired her concealed weapon. Relatives and friends described her as responsible. She was smart – a nuclear research scientist, even. So, I can come pick up your son and bring him here, or you could drop him off …

You might tell me that your gun is in a place where kids can’t find it, inside a safe with a combination that the kids don’t know.

658_4202058I am really glad you are taking the steps to keep your gun locked away. Did I mention that we have a big backyard for the boys to run around?

Your might tell me your kids aren’t even aware that there is a gun in your home.

That sounds like a smart decision. So, my house, then? For the playing?

Again, I think you are a wonderful person, and I do not mean to sound dismissive of the steps you have taken to be safe. I am just really uncomfortable with knowing that my child is near a gun.

I’m not going to rattle off statistics to support my position. I’m not going to talk about gun reform or try to turn this into a political conversation. This is about something bigger than politics: it’s about my child’s safety.

When it comes down to it, I don’t want my kids in your house because I am a parent, and I know that we are prone to error. I know that no matter how many precautions we take, how many books we read, how many classes we attend and how good our intentions are, we can make mistakes.

One day, I put the kids in the car and started driving up the street. My 4-year-old said, “Hey, Mom, you forgot to buckle me!”

Sure enough, I had gotten distracted while trying to get all of our bags and both kids in the car, and I had forgotten to buckle his seat.

Can you imagine what could have happened?

It is a mistake I think about every time I put the kids in the car. I guess you could say that in a way, it serves as a good reminder to double check their restraints.

And I don’t want to have a similar reminder to keep my kids away from guns.

As parents, we are faced with an onslaught of risks every day. Every time we drive a car, we risk an accident. Every time our children take a bite of food, they risk choking. Every time they run in their socks on a hardwood floor, they risk slipping and falling.

And as understanding as I may be, I’m not willing to risk my child’s life because someone had a lapse in judgment when stowing the gun in the closet.

I know that I will not know about every home that has a gun. And I know at some point, my children will reach that age where I will simply have to trust them and the people with whom they socialize.

I have spoken with and will continue to talk to my children about guns.

My hope is that they will know enough about guns to fear them, and they will know what to do if they ever see one. My even bigger hope is that they will never have to deal with the issue. So as long as I can control the situation, I’m going to.

And that is why I just can’t allow them to be in your home.

Please don’t take it personally.

It really isn’t you that I don’t trust; it’s the gun in your home.

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Kate Meier

Kate Meier

I'm Kate. My hair is always in a ponytail and I know most shows on PBS Kids by heart. My house nor my two kids are ever really clean. Writing is my catharsis and currently my meal ticket. I found my first gray hair recently and attribute it to sleepless nights and the constant fear of screwing up my 4-year-old and 21-month-old children.