I have a question for you. Well, first I have a statement: we own guns. Like, more than one. JB is an avid shooter and let’s just say when the zombies come we are totally prepared as far as weaponry is considered.

Every gun we own is stored in a safe. One safe is of the large standup variety and it has a bank-vault type lock, the other safe involves typing a code into a keypad type thing. Kidproof.

So here’s what I’m wondering: now that Riley’s old enough to start having school friends over, is our gun ownership (and storage details) something I should be responsible for bringing up with their parents prior to any sort of playdate? In my mind I’ve thought of this subject sort of like a food allergy—in that if your visiting kid has one, I expect you to approach me ahead of time with your concerns and requirements—but I wonder if I’m off base with that.

What do you think?

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Penne
Penne
10 years ago

We too are firearm owners. My husband is a hunter. We have two locking gun cabinets that we keep in the utility room in the basement, behind a door with a keypad numeric lock. They are unloaded and the ammo is stored elsewhere. I have never thought to tell kids’ friends’ parents about it because they are no threat. I wouldn’t warn them that I have a knife block on my kitchen counter, and that’s far more dangerous. Unless you keep a loaded .38 on the coffee table, you’ve already done the responsible thing by storing them safely. Ask about the food allergies and if they know to stop playing and go potty. That’s been a way bigger deal here than anything else. :-)

Shel
10 years ago

I think it’s based on YOUR comfort level and what you’re willing to share. Would you want to know if the home Riley & Dylan were visiting had firearms stored there? A parent can’t approach you with questions or concerns about something they aren’t aware of…I think if you are upfront and explain what you wrote in your entry about how they are stored, most parents wouldn’t have a problem with it. But…wouldn’t you want to be able to choose that for your child instead of not knowing?

Jules
10 years ago

I don’t mention it, but I also don’t remember having a lot of kids over when my kids were that age. Since your guns are stored nicely, parents may respect your caution. Or they might freak out completely that you have guns in the first place, hard to say. I guess you’d have to gauge your audience.

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

I hadn’t even considered asking if houses my kids visit have guns..maybe because my oldest is only 2? Ack..another thing to worry about.

I think letting the parent know is the most responsible thing to do..though anyone responsible enough to do that is probably also responsible enough to have their guns satisfactorily child-proofed. Ya know?

I don’t think you’re being negligent if you don’t mention it until asked.

sweetney
10 years ago

If you have unarmed firearms in your house in kidproof safes… I don’t see why you have to mention that. I mean, do you have to mention having KNIVES in your house? Which are MUCH MORE accessible and kids would have a MUCH easier time wielding?

Maybe it’s just me, but that would be akin to feeling like you have to tell parents of kids who come to your house that you have a porn vid in the bottom of your underwear drawer (not to compare firearms to porn, but you get my drift – not really relevant).

2-cents-ish.

Veronica
Veronica
10 years ago

Great question Linda!! I of course have no clue on the right thing to do but I am dying to read the comments and suggestions as they flow in. I guess I can say that if I was a parent of one of the friends coming to your house for a play date, and if you told me in advance about your guns and the safe and all that, i would really respect and appreciate you telling me. Not to say that you have to, but I would be like, “Dude that mom is cool to just give me a heads up about it.”

Beth
Beth
10 years ago

I think it’s up to parents to ASK, not proactively tell. That said, do YOU ask at other parents’ homes? I’m wondering because I grew up in a rural area where people were shocking lax in the gun safety arena and it’s kind of a miracle that no one I knew was injured or killed. Since you’re so careful, are you more aware that some people don’t have safes, or aren’t super careful about LOCKING the safe, etc.? There have been a handful of local incidents here where children have shot themselves or others with their parents’ police-issued guns (!)

Liz
Liz
10 years ago

We don’t have any firearms at the moment, but we will in the future. None of Lilia’s friends’ parents have mentioned their guns to us, but I know for a fact that some of them have them (in one family, the parents met in the Secret Service and the dad now works for the FBI). It never occurred to me to ask about them. I guess I just blindly trust that people are responsible. La la la!

Gigi
10 years ago

Please let them know. Think of it this way–if something, somehow, despite all of your safety precautions happened (and how many times have kids thwarted every safeguard we’ve put up for them??!) you would feel better if the parent had known that there were guns in the house when he or she decided a playdate at your place was okay. I think full disclosure is part of responsible gun ownership.

Except to zombies, of course.

just words on a page
10 years ago

We are also firearm owners. All of our guns are locked up in one safe and all the ammo is locked up in another safe. My husband is former law enforcement and has always always had firearms. Our locks are numberic key pads and a key. There’s no way a kid could even if they wanted to break into that safe. Cripes I dont think I could.

With that being said — I don’t disclose because they are no threat. Like Penne said I dont disclose to people I have knives in the butcher block in the kitchen. I view all these things as tools — we also have machetes (sp) in the garage. We view firearms as tools, and because of that my son has never had a play gun, or gap gun or a play rifle, we are that serious about the fact that a firearm is a tool. If a parent wants to ask then of course I will tell them we have firearms and how we store them. If they don’t feel safe with their child at my house then okay.

I ALWAYS ALWAYS ask the parents before my son goes to their house if they have firearms and if so how are they stored. If they are not locked up my son doesn’t go over period. I don’t apologize for asking, and I have had a few parents look at me like I am crazy. My son knows this is a non-negotiable issue. Some of the most unsafe homes have been those who are police officers.

You are doing the right thing Linda. You are not off base.

What’s even stickier is when you are a concealed weapons permit holder. Do you tell the home that you are going into you are packing heat, do you not go in the home? Would you want someone coming to your home concealing a weapon?

Those are things that I wonder about because I know I wouldn’t want anyone coming into my home with a concealed weapon, permit holder or not permit holder.

Trina
Trina
10 years ago

Oooooh. Tough one. The problem is, we live in a pretty anti-gun part of the country (Seattle). So you run the risk of FREAKING parents out if you tell them. I wouldn’t say anything. Unless a parent specifically asks.
I am assuming that the gun safes are in a place where the kids won’t be anyway. Like your bedroom or the garage or something?

Pete
Pete
10 years ago

I would like to know about it. I most likely would not care but I would like to know. If I know a family has gun I would like to have more information about the situation than a family without guns. Such as where and how are they kept, has there been any gun safety training. My brother keeps his (many) guns in a large safe but I’m still glad he told me about them. We don’t have any guns mostly because there is no where to shoot them in the area. If we did have guns I would let the parents know. YMMV

Mandy S.
10 years ago

Guns scare the $hit out of me. If someone has a gun at their house, I don’t care if it’s on total lockdown, I would want to know. And I don’t judge people for owning them, and I would REALLY appreciate someone telling me that before I had my kid at their house. I think it’s awesome of you to even think about offering up that information ahead of time. I would still let my kid play at your house. He’s two and a half. When would you like to pick him up at the airport?

velocibadgergirl
10 years ago

Honestly, I’d prefer to know up front. I don’t own guns and never plan to, so my first reaction is always, “You have what, where?” I feel like a casual “btw, we do keep guns in the house, but they’re stored safely” would be better for my nerves than my kid coming home and telling me that somebody’s dad has a big cool gun! For real! I’d be thinking, crap, did he see it? Did his friend just tell him? Did he touch it? Or is he just making it up?

Christie
10 years ago

Interesting… I have never thought to ask that question. However, I also don’t ask about their kitchen knife storage, where the circular saw is kept, how accessible the matches are, if their cleaning products are on a high shelf, or if there are any sharp tools or fireworks stored in the garage. I assume that parents know how to keep their own kids safe, thus keeping my kid safe. With that said, I am also careful about which houses my kids go to. I don’t have to know the parents well, but I need to get the right kinda vibe from them.

BabyKMama
BabyKMama
10 years ago

Thanks for posting, this is interesting dialogue! My father owned guns when I was growing up, and they were also stored in locked safes. We (my brother mostly) were always taught the safest way to handle them, etc. etc. I still have no desire to shoot, and as a parent don’t want guns in my home… That being said, my husband’s family all own guns, and issues about guns will come up eventually. My son is almost three, so I haven’t had to ask about safety at other’s houses yet, but the time will come… Nice to see what other people think!

Allison
10 years ago

it’s hard to say. I see both sides. I guess go with your gut and if you would want to know, then you should tell… I dread this part of parenting… though my boys are on a short SHORT leash and will not be visiting anyone who I don’t know fairly well… and as for us, we don’t own any guns so it’s a non issue whether to disclose. But I suppose I would want to know, so I would ask upfront before my child came over.

Suzanne
10 years ago

My opinion is you don’t HAVE to volunteer the information but I suspect some parents might appreciate it. I think you’ll get about a 90% approval rating and 10% of parents who totally flip their lid and ban their kids from your house altogether. I grew up in a gun-owning household but it wasn’t something anyone talked about – I’m sure my mom never told my friends but it was also extremely likely they also owned guns.

The real problem here is that responsible gun owners like you are the only people asking this question. The dad that keeps the loaded handgun in his night stand because it’s his second amendment right dammit isn’t going to volunteer that info before a playdate and THAT’S when horrible tragedies happen.

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

Very interesting questions. The father of one of my son’s friends is a police officer so I did ask before he went over there for the first time. But that was the exception, not the rule. I always wonder if I should ask more though.

Leeann
Leeann
10 years ago

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the kitchen knife:gun analogy holds water. The difference between a gun and a kitchen knife is that the vast majority of kids know knives are dangerous and not to mess with them. A child who has never seen a gun, or has toy guns and doesn’t know how to tell the difference between a toy gun and a real one might NOT know not to touch one in someone else’s home. That said, if your guns are properly stored in a safe, and there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that a child could ever access that safe, I’d wouldn’t feel obliged to disclose that I have them. The thought of school age kids in house with properly stored guns doesn’t worry me. If I had a teenager, though, I’d be far more concerned.

Lise
Lise
10 years ago

I’d tell the parents up front. I’m assuming that Riley knows that Daddy has guns? If so, he’s likely to talk about them to his buddies. It’s better that a parent know ahead of time that there are guns, but they’re safely stored, instead of hearing about guns from their child after the playdate.

Fwiw, I’m frightened of guns and could tell you a horror story of a family ripped apart by an accidental shooting, but I’d be comfortable letting my child play at a house with guns in a safe.

Amanda
Amanda
10 years ago

Hoo boy. I have opinions about this. However, they are mine and mine alone, and I’m not judging anybody in their choice to have guns, have children, or have them in the same house.

I would want to know if my child is visiting a house with guns. The reason for this is so that I can keep my child from going there. Yes, maybe this is seen as extreme, helicopter parenting, but I want to have the choice to say no rather than find out later, or never, even if nothing happens.

My reasons for this are varied. Kids friends parents usually (at least in my case) aren’t people I’m that close to, and therefore, when it comes to weapons, I don’t know their habits about keeping them secure. Also, no matter how safe you believe your weapons to be, nothing will truly make them “kidproof”, only “kid-resistant.” Finally, more than 500 kids a year die accidentally because of guns, either in their homes or a friend’s home. That’s just too many.

I know it sounds overprotective. I don’t ask many questions when my kid wants a playdate with a new friend, but “Do you have any weapons other than your kitchen knives in the house” is one of them. If the answer is yes then I suggest that we have playdates at my house instead.

In conclusion, I would approach you. I hope that answers your question, and maybe helps you understand why some parents may decline playdates in your home.

Kaitlin
Kaitlin
10 years ago

I would definitely tell the parents up front. I would want to know. I would feel MUCH more comfortable with my child at your house knowing that you were honest and up front with me.

I grew up in a suburb of Seattle and my mom ALWAYS asked our friends’ parents if they had guns in the house. I don’t think any of them ever did but I am glad she asked.

I live in Texas now and absolutely, without a doubt will be asking when I have kids going over to friends houses. I know that this is something I am going to struggle with once I have kids. Pretty much everyone (including their grandparents) has guns down here.

Lisak
Lisak
10 years ago

Disclose it! That let’s the other parent make an informed decision that they are comfortable with.

Shanee
Shanee
10 years ago

Ours guns and ammo are always together. In unlocked spaces and we feel no burden to tell anyone. And like mentioned above, we also do not tell anyone about our knives or scissors.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here, but I think I might be freaked out if another parent told me that. It would make me wonder why they were saying something. Like, was there some kind if problem before? (Kind of like if you went to a restaurant and saw a sign that read “100% E. COLI FREE!” Why are you telling ne this? And what’s the phone number for the Health Dept.?)

But if think if you were chill about it, people would understand.

Jolie
10 years ago

My husband and I both think we’d want to know but wouldn’t mind if they were locked up as yours were.

Michael
10 years ago

I agree with Amanda, and for similar reasons. I would prefer you tell us, but I don’t think you have to bring it up. We usually ask, and when the answer’s yes, we don’t let our kids go there and suggest playdates in our house or some other location instead. When we don’t ask, well, that’s our fault, not yours.

In practice, other issues like video games are more common. When our kids have already had a lot of screen time, we make it clear to both the parents and the kids not to have more. We’ve had other parents do the same, so it’s not just us.

Unfortunately, little kids — especially boys — think guns are interesting, and even if they don’t/can’t get into them, they’re going to talk a lot about it and pretend and wish they could. So its just better to remove the temptation entirely. When our kids are older (supposedly they don’t really grok cause-and-effect until age 7), I’m sure we’ll relax on this.

Of course, then other issues like internet use and phone use and drugs and alcohol and sex will become the challenges — more so, because the parents may not even know. Feeling very unready for all that! I trust our kids to make good choices, but I’m not so sure about the other kids ;-)

Heather D
10 years ago

I have to agree with those who say a properly stored gun that is of no threat in not anything you need o bring up. Why instill a seed of concern in a mother’s mind. I know that my anxiety issues would just use that as more fodder for self torture if someone brought that up to me.

Casey
10 years ago

I’m glad to read all of the comments on this one and I think it’s really responsible of you to ask. I really don’t know what the protocol is for you as the gun owner (since we don’t own any).

I always ask when we go on a play date (my kids aren’t at the drop off age yet) because my kids are the type that would stumble across one (even though we’ve had countless discussions about not touching them) and accidentally (or possibly on purpose)shoot themselves or someone else. And no matter how careful another parent says they are, I will never trust my kids to play in a house where a gun is kept if I am not there to supervise. Other people’s definition of careful is sometimes nowhere near mine and I’d rather have a pissed off kid who didn’t get to play at a friend’s house then be a news story.

Jill
Jill
10 years ago

I just wanted to comment – we are ready for zombies too. We watched the 2nd season of Walking Dead and I told my husband he had to buy flares – I didn’t know flares distracted zombies ;).

I’m a gun owner without children. If our nephew (9) is here for a visit we tell him what rooms is NOT allowed to go into and we tell him why. His parents are fine with this as they are gun owners too (parents are also in the house with him). When my nieces are over (not a gun owner family). Everything is locked in our safe, (except my carry gun which is always on my person)my sister knows I have guns – I highly doubt she knows how many, but I do tell her they are locked away.

Kate
Kate
10 years ago

I’m generally anti-gun – which is to say, pro gun control laws, and wouldn’t own one myself, but respect other people’s right to own them – but do not feel you have the obligation to let people know about your safely stored guns. And if someone did tell me that, my first reaction might be more along the lines of, huh, why are you telling me this.

On the other hand, this makes me think maybe I should ask people before I send my kids over to their house. Something casual, like “do you have guns or dogs or anything else legal but potentially dangerous”. If the answer was yes, I’d probably still send my kid over, but I’d want details. Yes, but in a gun safe is okay. Yes, but put away in my bedroom is less so.

I also feel like I have an obligation to make sure my daughter and son are taught gun safety – and fire safety and pet safety and stranger safety, etc.

Kate
Kate
10 years ago

I’m in the northeast (originally TX) and when setting up play dates I always disclose the following: animals, allergies, family and guns (we are gun free home). I do this upfront and then almost 99% of the time the other parent shares with me. As scary as guns can be it blows me away how many people are willing to drop off their child w/out knowing who else is in the house. If I don’t get to meet all members of the family, my kids doesn’t play their.

april
10 years ago

As a parent who does NOT have guns in the house (not anti-gun, just assume I’ll shoot myself in the foot) I don’t often know how to teach my boys about guns, and that you don’t play with real guns. I’m forever worried that as my sons start play-dating, they will be in a home that has guns and I won’t know how to appropriately deal with it.

So I can tell you, I’d like to know. I’d also like to know that they are well locked up, but I’d like to know that they are in the house.

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

I would mention it, and how the guns are stored. I have the feeling that on some occasion, the kids will discuss it among themselves, and I would hate it if my kid came home talking about guns at so-and-so’s house and I hadn’t previously known anything about it.

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

I ask. My son is Riley’s age and has really only just started having play dates with families we don’t know well. So, I ask. I want to know if they have guns and how they are locked up. I also ask if they have pets, and what kind. I don’t use the answers to keep my son from going, but to take the opportunity to teach him about difference. I also periodically try to teach him about what to do if he sees a gun, or a friend wants to play with a gun, even if the friend says it isn’t loaded, etc. It’s complicated, it’s scary, and I know my parents never asked. They were absolutely parents who asked “where? with whom? when will you be back?” but guns were not asked about.
I think it’s terrific that you even opened yourself up to these answers, and it demonstrates tremendous responsibility on your part.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

I would not bring it up. If someone is worried about it they should ask. The responsibility is on the parent of the child coming over. Plain and simple. That said, it amazes me how many parents have left their kids with me or tried to without ever meeting me or stepping ffffffoot in my house.

jonniker
10 years ago

I usually ask if it’s someone I don’t know well, but I’m mostly asking how they’re stored. If we didn’t live in MA, where having guns is pointless unless you hunt, which we don’t, we’d have them, probably. (We used to go to firing ranges when we lived in FL, and it was great fun.)

My main concern IS how they are stored, what kind of guns are in the home, because in Florida and hell, even Vermont, semi-automatic weapons weren’t that hard to get.

I AM uncomfortable when someone is carrying a concealed weapon around my child, and I ask my family members to please, not wear or bring their guns to, say, family gatherings. (Which happened a lot until I discovered my brother-in-law WRESTLING WITH MY KID and I spied his pistol on his hop.)

Personally, if you feel THAT unsafe going to Thanksgiving dinner without wearing a holster, I think you’re a nutjob.

sooboo
10 years ago

You are very considerate to even be thinking about this which tells me that you are responsible to the point of it being a non issue. We had a gun in the house when I was growing up but I didn’t know where it was and I never saw it. Later in life I learned that it was on a shelf in my dad’s closet, loaded, safety off. To my knowledge no one’s parent’s ever asked if we had a gun and my parents never asked either. I guess the point of that story is that I’d be more concerned about how other people store their weapons when your kids go to their houses. My parents seemed responsible in most respects, but it turns out that when it came to guns, they weren’t.

Wendy
10 years ago

@Jonniker: Good Lord. I would lose my mind if I saw that.

I think the gun owners have an obligation to store thier guns and ammo properly but if that is taken care of, I don’t think they need to automatically disclose. For parents who have a strong belief that they don’t want their kid to be in a place with guns than the burden is on them to ask and on the gun owners to answer honestly.

I think if guns are store unsafely (unlocked and with ammo as mentioned in the comments above) that should be disclosed.

Becky
10 years ago

If it were my kids coming over, I would absolutely want to know that you had guns – and that they were locked away.
I would then probably ask you some questions to further ease my mind.

Guns scare me, I won’t lie. They scare a lot of people – so just be up front about the fact that you have them, and that they are safely locked up. You’ll ease a lot of minds that way.

Laura Diniwilk
10 years ago

This is a very interesting and well-timed topic, as we just became first time gun owners this week. I hate hate hate guns, but lost the battle with my husband. As a gun hater, I would honestly rather be in the dark about it (as long as it was properly stored). Just knowing it was there would creep me out and would (probably unnecessarily) change how I would feel about my kid going over to play. And now I get to be creeped out in my own home, for the rest of my life! Good times.

I think if you are concerned enough to even be asking this question, you are not the type of gun owner most people would be worried about.

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

As the mom of an almost one-year-old, this is fascinating and eye-o

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

As the mom of an almost one-year-old, this is fascinating and eye-opening. I think I would be appreciative that you told me, and now that I’ve read all the comments, I KNOW I will be asking about guns and animals. This also has me thinking about pools (gates, alarms, etc) and predators. Is it nutjobby to consider looking up potential playdates’ addresses on the sex offender registry just to see what’s what?

Becky
10 years ago

To clarify: My best friend’s brother accidentally shot himself in the face with their parents’ gun when we were eight(no, I wasn’t there, thank God, but it was still extremely close to home.) So, I may be a little more freaked out by them than most.

That being said, if you were up front about it, and told me that they were secure, I wouldn’t have an issue with my kids being at your house. If I heard my kids talking about your guns and you hadn’t told me about them…I would be less apt to have them over there.

BadgerDave
BadgerDave
10 years ago

Given the extremely safe manner of storage, I would not proactively disclose the fact that you own firearms.

If asked, I would be honest about the level of security but ask vague as possible about exactly what you own and where it is stored (i.e. “any guns we might have in the house would be kept in a vault-style safe”).

Guns are valuables, and a big target of thieves. The key is to honestly convey that any firearm is kept in as safe a manner as reasonably possible without sharing too much info.

Cara
Cara
10 years ago

I’ll be honest, my first reaction to reading the comparison to food allergies was “do I now have to make a list of all the things I keep away from my child, so I can ask?” I don’t think its the same thing. While I would know I needed to let a parent know in advance of any special restrictions for my kid (food allergies, flashing lights cause seizures, whatever), I wouldn’t necessarily know what to ask about in their house. Two different things. Though, after reading the varied opinions in the comments, I will be asking.

That said, I don’t think you have to give every parent a disclosure form when their kid walks in the door. If guns are fairly common where you live and/or the family knows enough about you to guess they might be around (i.e. if my child is going to a friend’s house and I know he hunts, I obviously have reason to suspect there are guns around), then I do think you can rely on them to bring up the issue if they want to discuss it. But, if neither of those apply, I think a heads up is warranted. Something along the lines of “I just wanted to make sure you knew that JB is a avid shooter and so we do have guns, but they are in safes with a keypad and will not be taken out while your child is visiting.” (Because, if JB was preparing for a trip and had guns out while my child was visiting, I would LOSE MY MIND. I don’t care what precautions were taken or how unreasonable that makes me sound.)

Kateebee
Kateebee
10 years ago

Where I live private ownership of handguns is strictly regulated. People do own long guns and are expected to store them properly.

My expectation in an urban / suburban setting is the default would be no guns. So no need to ask. Now need to have a general discussion with kids about guns other than “they are bad”.

I would expect if someone did have guns in the house as part of their job that they would voluntarily disclose so that we could put the fear… sorry, educate our children about them since it is a non-normal part of our lives. They have seen knives, saws, scissors and exacto knives and the dangers of these have been discussed.

With the prevalence of shooting games and tv shows where we explain that the dead guy isn’t really dead I would be very concerned that a child would confuse reality and not.

And I’ll admit that when we cross the border to shop we are well aware that people in your country have hand guns. As we drive down the highway road rage is always in the back of our minds.

Depends on where you were raised on what you think is “normal’.

Jess
10 years ago

Oooh, this is a good question. I’m with those of the opinion that it’s up to the parents of the children coming to your house to ask and decide.I mean, I live in VA and assume EVERYONE HAS A GUN. We don’t. But that’s an entirely different story. Good times. Anyway, it’s locked and stored and totally kid proofed. More safe than most things in the house. You’re such a good person.

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