"Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile." -Grateful Dead
Gun ownership isn't talked about much in my world of observant Jews.
Out in the open, that is.
That's how it works among my kind - you do stuff and you don't necessarily talk about it.
That's not always a good thing. Especially when it comes to child safety.
Kids turn things into guns
The Wolfman's Brother, nearly 9, lately has been making things into guns. Legos, aluminum foil, you get the picture. This is probably all very normal for a kid his age. But this is pretty new, and I worry about the real deal. Who knows what his influences in school are in this realm.
Gossip or truth? Liberal NYC Jews ain't here in suburban Philly.
A few years ago, when we moved here, I was privy to a conversation at a Shabbat table where a couple told me that there's a lot of hush hush discussion about who carries a gun in town. That some rabbis here carry weapons to shul. That overall this is a conservative Republican frum community where a lot of people own guns. Moving from New York City to Pennsylvania was a real culture shock in that regard. Since then I have heard nothing, but I try to stay out of pretty much all busy-body discussions. I don't really know what people talk about.
What my Gut tells me.
My gut tells me that I wouldn't want my children in any home where there are guns. Period. Loaded, unloaded, stored separate or together, in a bed stand, in the attic. I don't want my children in a home where there are guns. Many people here have told me they don't get me. That they live inside the box and I am very much outside of that box. So maybe I don't have that many friends to begin with to lose. But I do wonder what might happen. Will people start whispering into each other's ears...Rachel Loonin the mother who likes live music, kept her last name, feeds her children kale and only 1 slice of pizza, and who knows what else goes on in that house...that the hippy liberal suspicions we had about her all along are true. I doubt the Shabbat meal invitations are at risk because we don't get invited out much anyway!
It's not that big a deal to ask if there's an unlocked gun in the house.
A brief bit of research shows that homes are safer if there's a gun safe. When ammunition is kept separate. When the safes are locked. According to Asking Saves Kids, which is run by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, you should ask if there's an unlocked gun in the house before you send your kids there to play. An ABC News entry gives advice about how to ask others if they have guns in the house. This article in the Washington Post offers a bit more nuance and discussion from a parent's perspective.
These things do give me reassurance. However, my gut still tells me I do not want my child in another home where there is a gun. How can I trust that the owner is responsible and will always lock their gun? Yes, it is our constitutional right to bear arms. That's the 2nd Amendment, right? But it still makes me feel uncomfortable. Am I then supposed to get into a whole discussion with the gun owner..."do you always keep it locked? Does your child know about it? Has your child ever touched your gun? Did you even forget just one time?" We're not talking the level of discomfort from them being in a home where there's junky snacks served or tv on all afternoon. And don't even ask about drugs. Prescription drugs are in so many of our houses and can be pretty dangerous and potentially lethal chemicals. Just in case you thought you could get me on the cannabis argument. This is very different. This is about life or death. Yes, I will let my child play in your house if you have prescription drugs. It's the reality of our society. And what about toxic chemicals like bleach that I don't keep in my own home, partially for safety reasons? Am I going to start preventing my children from going to homes that have Clorox?
Should I just throw in the towel and say that guns are a reason to keep my children away from your home?
And yet, I choose life.
Probably one of the few people who I am guaranteed to know will actually read this full blog is a person I know who I think owns a gun whose house we visit sometimes. What's the answer? Hard to know. It is 1:27am and I still have to do dishes in the kitchen sink, pack up an order, and take a shower before I go to sleep. What a convenient way to leave things open-ended.
This is the closest I want my children to getting to "hot as a pistol but cool inside."