Cake
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    • Louis Gray

      The United States has a gun-obsessed culture. The bad guys have guns. Many of the good guys have guns. Our movies have guns. Our TV shows have guns. And our Constitution says we can go ahead and get some more. So millions of people have them, in their homes, in their cars, their purses, or even carried openly. For many, the idea is self defense -- protection from some theoretical harm that may come their way. For others, the gun is theoretically for sport. Some collect them like baseball cards, amassing an arsenal that would make mob bosses blush.

      Meanwhile, our kids know they can be killed at any time, simply for going to class. While there have been mass shootings at movie theaters, businesses and churches, young children armed with little more than backpacks and pens make for an easy mark for homicidal gun nuts looking to rack up high numbers of casualties, regardless of their motives. For years, the near-weekly calamities of on campus shootings have blurred from one to another, where we simply have to say the names of the schools to dredge up memories of horror. Sandy Hook. Columbine. Stoneman Douglas. Virginia Tech. Santa Fe High.

      As a father of three school-age kids, I've had to accept my kids go through Code Red drills with the kind of nonchalance and regularity I once underwent through fire drills. My oldest son has said matter of factly that if a shooter came to his school, he would probably be killed, because his classroom is nearest the school entrance. "Have a good morning kids, and make sure not to get shot," I could say as I whisk them out the door.

      Amidst all this came the news to our family last month that my father, a right leaning one-time moderate seemingly drifting into the mental madness that emboldens the Fox News crowd of late, had purchased a handgun. He had semi bragged at his last visit to our home that had he known our city had a guns and ammo shop, that he'd have stopped in for target practice...

      His reasoning for buying a firearm? He came to the conclusion that had a "good guy with a gun" been around when Adam Lanza stormed Sandy Hook, they could have stopped the massacre. He said he had some kind of vision in a dream that he had been called to get a gun and prepare to shoot the next shooter - ordered by God, if you will. Given his lifelong adherence to religion, there's some higher level aspiration going on here, mirroring Biblical stories of the Lord speaking directly to prophets, and it's likely he hopes to be pure enough to listen should the voice come down from the heavens...

      I, of course, think this is ridiculous. More guns means more chance he gets shot, or my mother gets shot, or my kids find the gun, wherever he has it, and get shot. The most likely people to be shot by firearms are your relatives, so lucky us... that's who we are. So since he won't tell me where the gun is, whether it's in his home, or in his car, or in his office, I don't think I can bring my kids home to my parents any more. For the ease of how they find my candy stashes and pilfer money from my wife's purse, I don't think it's that far a stretch to learn they've found his handgun after we've heard the boom that could take their life.

      Thanks to the Constitution, and centuries of rebellious behavior by Americans who love their independence and their own interpretations of freedoms, we're hundreds of years and millions of firearms into stockpiling enough weapons to shoot everyone dozens of times. That munitions pile has long since been crossed. But I don't think I need to accept my father buying a firearm as some new personality quirk, hobby or the latest signal of his descending into a slippery slope of senility.

      If he wants to see his grandkids face to face, the gun has to go, or I need perfect assurance it's not anywhere we end up. When he purchased the gun and registered himself as a gun owner, the safety had been removed.

    • Chris MacAskill

      I'm sorry. I'm at a loss. My father kept a loaded shotgun by his bed and the bathroom I used was across the hall from his door. I always worried that when I tiptoed down the hall in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, he might mistake me for an intruder.

      It seems like Fox news is doing to our parents what they feared violent video games would do to us. They seem to even be attacking American Republican heroes like McCain and Mueller, and American institutions Republicans have long valued like the FBI. And our parents grow angrier.

    • It's too bad you would deny your kids their grandfather but I suppose that's your right as a parent. Lots of people do that for far more benign reasons than yours.

      Around 12,000 kids die each year and according to the CDC, they're most likely to die in some motor vehicle related accident. After that, drowning, suffocation, "other", fire, ... . 9.2 million visit the ER for non-fatal injuries-falls and being struck by or impacting objects.

      My point is having a discussion with your dad about how he stores his gun would be a far better course of action than threatening him with never seeing his grandkids face to face again especially given your kids have a better chance of being killed on the drive over to his house.

    • The best way to get past this is education, both for you and your father. Your father needs to get training to really understand and internalize gun safety. He needs to understand the huge responsibility of owning firearms. He needs to understand the rules of safe ownership, storage, and handling and also get coached in shooting so he understands it ain't like in the movies - the odds of him hitting the broad side of a barn, let alone an intruder are pretty slim without thousands of rounds of practice of correct technique. The NRA (safety and education arm, not legislative arm) offers a basic pistol class which is step one for any owner. That class does very little actual shooting but instead is mostly classroom time dedicated to understanding and safety. That might help him come to the realization that a gun is not necessarily the best tool for the job and comes with more responsibility than he's willing to take on. While I own dozens of guns and no longer have kids at home, all of them stay locked in a safe because I personally don't want to get into a gun fight in my house. I shoot enough to know there's more potential downside than upside to it. That's just my personal perspective.

      It's probably worthwhile for you to get some training too so you can change your fear of guns into respect for them. Respect for something dangerous based on knowledge is a lot more useful than fear.

    • I grew up around guns. My dad owned guns. My grandfather owned guns. Everywhere we lived when I was a kid, there were guns.

      The adults in my life were very responsible gun owners. They mostly kept their guns in places where kids couldn't get to them, and even at a very young age I was told how dangerous guns were and that I should never play with them.

      But I had seen Magnum, P.I. and C.H.I.P.S. on TV, so I knew guns were exciting and cool. Being prohibited from touching them made them even cooler.

      One day, when I was 5 years old, I decided I wanted to look at my dad's pistol. I knew he kept it in a case by the side of the bed. So when nobody was looking, I snuck into my parents' bedroom and tiptoed to Dad's side of the bed. Sure enough, the case was there.

      I pulled it out and set it on the bed. It took me a little while to figure out how to get it open, but it wasn't locked, so eventually I managed. And there was the gun. I think it was a little snub-nosed revolver of some kind, maybe a .38. I had only planned to look at it, because I knew it was dangerous, but now that it was right in front of me I figured I might as well pick it up. I'd be careful. It would be fine.

      As I reached out my hand, I heard a noise behind me and looked. Dad was standing in the doorway. I froze. I was sure I was about to be in the worst trouble of my life. But he was just looking at me; not angrily, but with a sort of calm but concerned expression I couldn't place. He should have been angry, so the lack of anger scared me. It made me feel like I'd done something so bad, so wrong, that he'd gone right past anger to something else entirely.

      He came over and took the gun case from me and asked me what I was doing. I tried to explain that I only wanted to look, but I knew I had screwed up bad. He told me how dangerous guns were, and how easily I could have been hurt, and etc. And that was the last time I ever broke any of his rules about guns.

      But I often wonder what would have happened if he hadn't walked in. I was a smart, good, generally responsible kid, but I had been about to do something incredibly stupid and dangerous that could have gotten me or someone else killed. If he hadn't caught me, or if I'd been a little less responsible, my life could have ended or been changed forever that day.

      And that's what I think about now when I think about kids being in houses where there are guns. It doesn't really matter how careful the gun owners are or how good the kids are or how hidden the guns are. Kids find things. They do things they're not supposed to, even when they know they're dangerous. They make mistakes.

      All it takes is one gun left out of a gun safe for a few moments after being cleaned, or one gun hidden by the bedside where a kid would surely never look.

      So I totally understand, @louisgray. I'm so sorry that this has affected your relationship with your father, and your kids' relationship with their grandfather. But I understand. Thank you for sharing.

    • I didn't assume this post would be universally embraced. I am familiar with guns, but have no desire to own one. If my father is able to ensure me that the gun is in a safe place, and all precautions are taken to keep our family safe, this is a pretty simple discussion. But my questions to him about it were evasive, which puts me in the position of not expecting things are perfect.

      I do not fear guns any more than I fear speeding cars or poisonous spiders. But I know they have an inherent danger when in the wrong hands, and I don't think family members whom I should trust should facilitate endangerment of my kids, and my concerns have not been satisfied.

    • Ryan, this is exactly right. Even those with good intentions increase the chances for mistakes and reduce safety, simply by bringing the gun into the home/office/car/wherever. A friend of mine who is involved with the military has the ability to concealed carry, which I learned only after the fact when he had been in my home. On another occasion, when playing poker, he had also been drinking hard liquor heavily.

      Afterwards, I learned in both occasions he had been armed. That entirely changed the perspective of his entering in my home, and the hard drinking. It doesn't take a scientist to realize drinking hard liquor while having a gun on your person increases risk, or that bringing a gun into someone else's home without disclosure isn't fantastic.

      My message is not that we are coming for everyone's guns. That's a lost cause. But we need to be smarter about it, and very specifically, I don't think this person should have one, and definitely not when my family is there.

    • I do not intend to deny my kids their grandfather. But I do intend to deny them the option to be near him when he may possibly have a gun, or deny them the option to be in a home where I am not sure the gun is secured. When I did talk to him about it last month, and asked for details about it, he was very evasive. This can only let me be less sure that I know it is out of their reach, or safe, etc. If he can persuade me that our family is not put in harm's way by his owning one, then we don't have too big of an issue. So far, he has not.

    • I am sorry to her that he’s been evasive about the discussion.

      Someone mentioned drinking and CC. That’s a big no-no and can lead to the revocation of your permit.

    • It's not unreasonable to insist that gun owners be safe with them. Grandparents get no special rights allowing them to be unsafe around their grandchildren. If you read the original post, you will see that the grandfather is evading that conversation.

    • if you read my reply, you would have realized I was encouraging a dialogue between father and son. And you would have also read that as a parent, it’s his right to make decisions about the safety of his child.

      And finally, I never said it was unreasonable to ask questions.

    • Any reasonable person when asked in a respectful manner, "how will you secure your firearms while my children are in your house" would have no problem answering. If that same person were asked it in a disrespectful, hyperbole filled, condescending way filled with words like, "arsenal", "homicidal gun nut", "Fox News crowd", "personality quirk", and "senility", I think evasive would be the best possible outcome of that conversation. Even if those words weren't verbalized, they would surely come across in tone and body language. Is there a spouse or sibling that could talk to him rationally and without undo emotion?

    • The unfortunate bit is that you get this wall of text and you don't get the recordings of our conversations to date. Just my one-sided summary. I have asked these questions and without the politicizing you highlighted. My sister, per texts last night, has also been very vocal with him about his choice, and unsatisfied with his answers, has similarly barred her children from going to his home over the last year-plus.

      My specific wording done here is done with intent, as it is an example of many trends we have here in the country. While some think I should handle this completely offline, my feeling is that we are too often only talking about this after some disaster has occurred. My choice here is to instead talk about it before an incident happens, as a point in time. If we can have open discussions about safety and how one person's choices have downstream effects, even if they are uncomfortable, that's preferred to 72 point headlines and body counts.

      I would rather navigate hurt feelings and some embarrassment instead of identifying my kids in the morgue and hoping my insurance covers funeral costs.

      It is telling that my sister knew he had the gun for a year and chose not to tell me, as she had kept those conversations private. But by her knowing the gun may have been in the home and yet she didn't tell me, my kids may have been at risk. By talking publicly, I reduce that risk for my other relatives who probably also haven't been told.

    • I included the CDC information to point out there are a lot of things those of us who don’t have kids in the home have that are far more hazardous than the gun. Of course, I think you are right to be concerned about safety of your kids anywhere they go.

      I want to tell you a story that’s completely unrelated to guns but involved the death of a you child. About 20 years ago, a work colleague was at home with his kids. The kids were playing in the yard and after a while, my colleague went to check on them. Found one by not the other. There was a frantic search and he could not find his son. The police were called and within an hour or so, they found him in a cooler. He’d climbed in while playing hide and seek; the lid closed and he was trapped.

      This story has troubled me for a long time. Not because mom and dad were irresponsible, far from it. They were great parents and this was a terrible, terrible tragedy. It’s also made me aware that there are many things kids can get involved with that can hurt them. Things I take for granted and I’m sure many others do as well.

      So if you ask about anything concerning kid safety, I’d expect you to be given a reasonable answer.

    • FWIW, Louis, I think you're doing the right thing. Any discussion about guns seems to go sideways in our society, which is unfortunate. Yes, kids find guns. I found my father's revolver, which was unloaded and more of historic value than use as a weapon.

      I own handguns. I can't imagine not being responsive to a parent's concerns about how I store them. Seems like common sense to me. But then again, a lot of things do and yet our country marches determinedly in the opposite direction.

    • Since Cake is about reasonable discussions.....I would just offer up that I owned a pistol in my 30's and it always made me nervous around the house. I am not happy that our country has devolved where people thinking that having an open-carry permit makes the world safer. I do not want to pay taxes and live in a country where 2nd Amendent promoters selfishly create a culture where guns are mandatory. I am so happy I am not raising kids today....young minds and souls where not intended to process mass shootings on a regular basis nearby and afar. It does not take a brilliant person to realize that countries like Syria and Iraq will suffer for 100's of years as their infants to youth have been terrorized with brutal imagery and experiences of murder and bloodshed.

    • Chris MacAskill

      My wife's father is a veteran and in charge of funerals for service members in the St. George, Utah area. Great guy. He does 3-5 funerals each weekend with a 21-gun salute and color guard. He keeps their guns locked in a safe and he's fanatical about keeping them clean and in good working order. He was in the military police. He also hunts in deer season.

      I don't know how long ago this was, but one of his older teens got ahold of one of the guns, maybe when it was out being cleaned after a funeral? He loaded a bullet in the chamber just to see how the action worked and somehow it went off in the living room. It went through a wall and through the crowded kitchen dining area where guests were, and then out the kitchen window. It missed everyone. The family still talks about where it entered and exited and somehow went through a crowd of people without hurting anyone.

      That was one of two incidents the fam talks about all the time.

    • The study that just came out about ownership & storage practices in the US is honestly alarming. There are almost more guns in the US than there are people. 1 in 3 households has one.

      - 30% of owners have the guns loaded & easily accessible (...holy shit)
      - 50% keep them unloaded & easy to reach or loaded & locked (...sure let's half ass it)
      - 20% of gun owners keep them unloaded & locked (why is this so damn low)

      Oh but it gets scarier:
      40% of owners have no idea that their kids/grandkids know where the guns are
      25% of owners had no idea that the kids/grandkids have grabbed the guns & played with them.

      First: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
      Second: 40% chance the owner has no idea a kid knows where it is...sorry but not knowing that kids know where the guns are is just flat out unacceptable.

      As parents, you do your best to protect your kids with the information you have. It is not unreasonable to confirm that your child will be safe - be it with guns, carseats, helmets or double buckling. If we don't demand accountability on gun safety from our own family members, then we're enabling it. And I don't think I am alone in saying that -- not asking these questions rests way more on the side of negligence. There is no "oops" here. Louis you did the right thing.

    • 10 pages easy.... These topics are so difficult to have on the web. The original post was more of a statement. No questions were asked. Was this for validation, venting, just cause..internet?
      People are very charged about both sides, so easy for it to go sideways as folks misinterpret responses or read into the text in a way that was not intended.
      Pass the popcorn........

    • Chris MacAskill

      Yeah, the subject is so charged. It seems like it's charged everywhere, in every venue, not just on the Internet.

      I remember my wife and I touring Norway and striking up a conversation with a teenage girl around Bergen. We commented on how great her English was. She commented about how her family likes to travel and how they had been in Scotland and England. And how Norwegian teens get to watch American movies.

      We asked if she'd visited America. She said no and she may never go because guns. That's how America is known to Norwegians, she said, as the place people shoot each other.

    • Probably not going to Mexico, South/Central America either. Or many parts of Africa where violence is a huge part of every day living. I remember a text a friend sent while he was in Mexico staying in a place that’s considered reasonably safe. The Federal Police were having a shootout with cartel members just outside of their hotel; 12 dead.

      It is a very charged subject.

    • Yeah, I think that's true. We tend to compare ourselves with Europe, Canada and Australia, but this chart is pretty shocking:

    • Of note, since I am sure you're curious... I had a 30 minute discussion with both my parents this week. They agreed to ensure the gun is nowhere near the family when we visit, and we will need to tell them in advance if we are coming, in the event he were to have it at home for target practice and we just showed up.

      My mother and my siblings are not pleased he has a firearm, but at this point, cannot talk him out of owning one. But we can reduce the risk to our family by keeping it away from them, and it seems this has been done.

    You've been invited!