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.