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Is It Secured? Is It Safe? (Guns in the Home With Kids)

This mom of two has worked with non-profits to provide educational and health programs for local children and improve the local workforce.


A few years ago, I came across a great article about having discussions with other parents before planning visits and playdates to talk about how they deal with having guns in their home before allowing your kids to go over to visit.

The article really hit home with me because I'd recently been in a situation which involved my young children in a home where firearms and ammunition for them were left laying around within reach. A handgun on the kitchen table. A shotgun on the floor of the hall closet. It had never occurred to me that I needed to discuss with other adults (all of them parents and grandparents!) the need for gun safety - especially about keeping them out of the reach of children.

Growing Up

I grew up in Northern Ontario (Canada). A lot of homes have hunting weapons and we never thought anything of it. Our parents certainly never asked, "Do you have guns? Are they locked up?" But, maybe they should have. There weren't any laws back then to make sure weapons were secured from little hands that may want to explore.

We lost a few school friends to gun accidents throughout the years, even ones that were taught gun safety. The grief and horror on the face of the "safety trained" kid who accidentally shot his best friend ... it never left him.

My dad always kept his guns unloaded and hanging high up on the wall out of reach. He taught my brother and I at an early age that guns are weapons and weapons kill. It doesn't matter if you're an animal or a child, if a weapon is pointed at you, it can and will kill you.

We'd seen enough dead animals to know we didn't want that to happen to us or anyone we cared about.

On purpose or by accident - dead is dead.

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We were allowed to handle Dad's hunting weapons only when we were in a safe location and only when he was standing there with his hands on us and/or the weapon. We knew what it felt like to hold them, aim them, and fire them. We knew how easy it was for a gun or rifle to go off when we didn't mean for it to and how easy it was to hit something we didn't mean to. Seeing Dad treat every weapon (knives included) with respect went a long way. He was never casual with them:

The moment you don't respect a weapon, it will kill you. Always treat it like it's loaded and ready to kill.

— Dad

I never had an urge to touch/play with them or show them off to friends. In fact, we had friends ask us to take down a rifle or shotgun so they could see them. The answer was always no.

On purpose or by accident - dead is dead.

Now, it's law here that firearms must be unloaded and made inoperable with a secure locking device or securely locked in a container/cabinet that can't easily be broken into. Plus, ammo must be stored separately or locked in the same container as the firearm.

Have the Conversation

Even though it's required by law where I live, the playdate article made a good point. We can't assume that everyone actually follows the law. There's always someone who figures it's nobody's business what they do in their own home and, "What the law doesn't know, won't hurt me." And, for other places that don't have these types of legal requirements, which is where my children encountered the weapons, a conversation about guns between adults becomes more important.

It's okay to talk about things that affect the safety of our children.

If you have guns in your home, you can be the one to start the conversation with the parents of your child(ren)'s friends. Tell them what steps you take to keep your guns secure and children safe in your home. Let them know it's okay to ask questions. Keep the conversation light, yet respectful. You never know who's life this simple, open discussion could save.

Learn More - Do More

If you would like to know how to make your firearms safe in the home, visit Project Child Safe.

For those in the USA, CLICK HERE to get a FREE Safety Kit, which includes
a cable-style gun lock and safety instructions.

Originally Published Nov 4, 2015

© 2021 Rosa Marchisella

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