STFU Parents: Gun-Toting Toddlers, The Colorado Shooting Edition

After the horrific shooting rampage last week, I posted a few submissions on STFU, Parents that I’d received about the incident. The submissions illustrate what I believe to be a few lessons regarding how to post on Facebook without looking like a jerk, and they inspired some heavy conversation in the comments. One of the comments that stuck out to me read, “I can’t tell, is this website supposed to be funny?” Well, yes and no. Much like attending a blockbuster action movie is supposed to be fun, STFU, Parents is inherently a funny website. But, sometimes other stuff gets in the way. Sometimes I get a submission, or a bunch of submissions, that aren’t funny at all, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. I determine what to post on the blog based on what people – strangers – send to me, and I’m fascinated with the ebb and flow of timely submissions that reflect what’s happening in our world in real time. After all, that’s what Facebook and social media are all about: posting in real time what is relevant to our lives or happening in our sphere of influence.

With that said, not everything posted on the blog or in this column is going to be funny, because life isn’t always an endless stream of good times. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes the submissions I receive strike a chord with me in a way that’s best described as discomfort. I’m not talking about pictures of diaper explosions or status updates about mucus plugs, which are their own brand of ick; I’m talking about submissions that illuminate things to me that I might not have wanted to know or think about. For instance, after posting the submissions related to the Colorado shooting, I received this:

The thing that makes me uncomfortable about this submission – aside from the fact that a small child is holding a rifle with her finger on the trigger just over her brother’s shoulder in the backyard – are the comments. “How adorable!” “Look at his muscles!” “Ha ha, she’s gotta learn when to scare off those boys sometime!” None of the people commenting is even acknowledging what I see when I look at this picture, which is a 3-year-old holding a deadly weapon in her swimsuit. The dichotomy between the seriousness of the weapon and the playfulness of the backyard pool bothers me deeply, but it doesn’t affect Amanda’s friends in the slightest. When I get a submission like this, I think it says something about where we’re at as a society. Yes, the little girl is being instructed, perhaps educated, by her brother, but her finger is still on the trigger. She is still three years old, holding a gun, and her mom feels comfortable posting the picture on Facebook. Eight people “liked” it. What does this mean? [tagbox tag="colorado shooting"]

For a person like me, it means that our culture is more gun-obsessed than it should be. For Amanda and her friends, it’s just another summer day. And I’ll admit that I’m curious what other people have to say. I’m intrigued that a person would post this picture on Facebook, and even more intrigued that her friends think it’s totally appropriate. It may not be humorous, but to me, it’s worth discussing because it shows how some parents use Facebook to express their attitudes about gun ownership.

Not everything posted on STFU, Parents or in this column is funny, because not everything I receive is funny or gross or able to be classified in plain terms. When I get a submission like this the day after a man shoots up a room full of innocent people, it makes me think. People are asking why some parents brought their children to a midnight showing of a dark and violent movie. I’m not asking that question. I’m wondering why some parents post pictures on Facebook of their toddlers holding weapons. To me, that’s what’s alarming.

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    • Malachite

      Regardless of individual views on gun ownership, if YOU aren’t teaching your children gun safety, someone else will.

      • Momof4

        1. There is NOTHING funny about this site or blog anymore. It used to be a fun few minutes filled with laughter. Now, it has turned into a closed-minded, judgmental, ignorance filled blog full of BS.

        2. Face it. Guns are a part of life, period. Here you have a child being taught gun safety and you want to complain about even that?! How do you know the gun is loaded? The tip is not showing in this picture so who is to say it’s not an air soft gun?

        3. Consider this not just a reader lost to your blog but a reader lost from Mommyish. I can’t support this kind of stupidity or a site that publishes it. Too bad you lost your sense of humor somewhere along the way. Please, do the world a favor, always use birth control.

      • canaduck

        SHE’S THREE.

      • SMiaVS

        Translation: I’m of the Bible-beating, tea-bagging, gay-bashing variety and I don’t like that the blogger is now more overt in her support of basic human decency and equality. I’ll be taking my vague grasp of literacy elsewhere.

      • Leigha7

        To address your 2nd point:

        She’s three. Guns don’t have to be a fact of life. Holding a gun does not equate to being taught gun safety. And a gun is always loaded, that’s the first rule of gun safety.

      • Tobi

        Momof4, I’d tell you to take your own advice, but it looks like it’s too late.

      • Tracy

        Now, Tobi, don’t be a cunt.

      • Tobi

        Telling her to take a dose of her own medicine is cunty?

    • Otik

      Perhaps this is just the differences between those who were raised with guns and taught how to safely use them, versus those who were raised to believe that guns KILL and you should NEVER even look at a gun because it might go off on its own.
      When I am teaching my daughter how to properly use a small .22 rifle, I think of all of the idiot children I see running around with the toy guns that their parents bought them, pointing them in the faces of their friends and laughing as they shoot them. The same children that have never seen a real gun in their lives, and are taught that real ones are bad but toys are ok.

      • Frances

        I agree with you, I think gum ownership is perfectly fine in the right hands and I am grateful that I was properly taught to respect guns in general. But as someone who grew up in the heartland I can tell you that for every parent such as yourself who is responsible about it, there is one that doesn’t I also don’t see the point of having your kids mess with a gun poolside without proper clothes on.

        I will continue to educate my own children about gun safety but I don’t think there would ever be an occasion where I would take a pic like the one above. I also don’t let my kids play with toy guns.

      • Lo

        Yes, this, thank you! My father works with firearms for a living, and we were taught that you don’t point even a toy gun at anybody. In fact one of my profile pictures on Facebook is my father and I at the Disney World shooting gallery in Frontierland, with him teaching me how to hold a rifle. Some people might find that photo “disgusting,” but I knew from an early age not to treat anything that looks like a gun as a toy. (Even the ones that are intended as such.)

        That being said, I didn’t handle an actual firearm until I was much older. And if the family from the photo above does want their child to be comfortable using a gun, she should be taught by an adult, at a firing range, without her brother standing downrange.

    • Momof4

      I did not mean for my post to be a reply to Malachite but to the article, itself. ;)

      • STFU Parents

        “Please, do the world a favor, always use birth control.”

        I can’t speak for Mommyish, but I assure you your presence will not be missed or felt on my blog.

      • Steph

        “Guns are a part of life, period.” Um, nope. Guns are not a part of my life at all. I know people who hunt so they have guns, but they are the exception, not the rule. Of course I live in Canada, I think we’re not so crazy for guns here…

      • caroline

        You are a total wingnut.

        And the pic really looks like “gun safety” to you? Really?

      • Malachite

        That was kind of my point about the picture – it DOESN’T look like gun safety.

      • Frances

        If more people like B had children and more people like you used birth control the world would be a better place. And this is from a firm supporter of the second amendment who is also a long time STFU reader. Unlike you, B is someone who you can have a respectful discussion about things you disagree about, whereas you are a troll.

        As the mombies on STFUParents often say “I feel sorry for your children”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

        I can’t speak for Mommyish, but I can speak for myself as an individual who is proud of this site and of the amazing women I get to work with. Your judgment and personal attacks against B, who thoughtfully brought up a topic that concerns me very deeply, are out of line.

    • Jen W

      Agree with the author and will continue looking forward to her posts here and on her own site.

      Just because she’s capable of being funny doesn’t mean she’s not allowed to be serious at times, especially in wake of a tragedy.

    • amy

      I couldn’t agree with this more.

      • amy

        And no one is teaching my children gun safety, because we don’t and WON’T have guns. Ever.

      • whiteroses

        Which means that they won’t ever be around them in their entire lives, not even once?

        That’s just a bit naive, isn’t it?

      • Leigha7

        Gun safety does not mean “learning how to use a gun,” it means learning that guns are dangerous and you need to be careful around them. EVERY child NEEDS to learn gun safety, no matter whether their parents have guns, no matter how their parents feel about guns, no matter WHAT because a child who has never been taught gun safety could easily see one lying around someplace (or find one at a friend’s house) and decide to play with it. A child who knows better than to do so is a child who isn’t going to accidentally kill themselves or someone else.

      • Cecilia

        Just because YOU won’t, doesn’t mean your children will never be in a home with firearms. That is why you SHOULD teach them basic safety.

    • ale515

      I think everyone should learn how to use a gun properly. I also think that they should be an adult or a teen if need be to learn how to use a gun properly. I absolutely think that a 3 year old with a gun is just CRAZY!!!!! They are children, children don’t always follow rules, children make mistakes A LOT! Why do you think a 3 year old will know how to use a gun but not how to cook pasta over high heat?

      There’s a time and place when people learn gun safety, and this is just too freaking soon! And before you get on my case, my Dad was a cop for 12 years, and ONLY when he thought I was ready, did he teach me how to use a gun, I was not 3, 4, 5, or 6 I was 18 damn it!!

      • kate

        i agree with you, on the gun safety and at the right time. And I was also kind of wondering, if perhaps this was an air rifle..not an actual rifle. Maybe that wouldnt make a difference to some because of the age of the child, but I think it does.

    • Lastango

      Early familiarity with firearms has several important functions.

      First, it helps children understand that real guns are not toys.

      Second, it deromanticizes their use. Knowing that guns are used for hunting and target shooting decouples the link to gratuitous violence and intimidation served up by TV and movies. There — as carried, displayed, and fired by men and women alike — guns are a symbol of power. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to distorted reasons for actually buying and carrying a gun. It resembles the dysfunctional reasons so many people get pit bulls or rotties.

      Third, it opens up their thinking to some great sports and pasttimes: clay pigeon, smallbore, air rifle & pistol (all Olympic sports), and other styles.

      Fourth, it will help them develop the confidence to later acquire a firearm for personal protection, and to seek formal training for that purpose (a specialized skill).

      Where I grew up, everyone had guns. I used to take mine to school, as did others. That was before our society went collectively crazy by abandoning all our standards. Now the people who methodically threw away all our standards are screaming about how dangerous guns are!

      • Daisy

        I can’t even imagine living in a society like that. It absolutely terrifies me. I’m from Canada, and I don’t know one single person who owns a gun. And I’m even from Alberta, which is the most right-wing, gun-happy province of all. But even here, the people who DO own guns have them for hunting, or on a farm, and would never, ever take one out in public.

        For personal protection??? That makes me picture war-torn Iraq or drug cartels in Mexico. But I have a feeling you live the US, which is supposed to be a “developed” country… It boggles my mind.

      • Lastango

        “I don’t know one single person who owns a gun”
        Reminds me of the famous account of someone in Manhattan who went down to the newspaper box the morning after the election. Upon discovering McGovern had carried only one state + DC she exclaimed, “But… everyone I know voted for him!”
        You would fit right in the neighbourhood.

    • Jaye

      Holy Overreaction, Batman!

      Gun obsessed? Ha! The people who have and know how to properly use guns are the least obsessed of all. It’s the ones that don’t like/are afraid of guns that are obsessed.

      There is nothing wrong with this pic.

    • jen

      My 5 yr old has been shooting (heavily assisted and supervised) since he was 3. Just .22s and always on a lap or lying on the ground next to an adult. Never with complete control over the gun or the trigger (unless it’s unloaded). He also has been learning since he was a toddler not to touch a gun he finds out (not that we leave them out unless we’re testing him, and then they are always unloaded), but he needs to know what to do – or not do – if he ever finds one – here or at a friend’s house), that he must always ask before touching, even if he has been allowed to in the past. As he gets older he will learn more gun safety and proper handling. He even gets proper instruction on safe handling with toy guns and water guns because it all is relevant and it all plays in to how he may react to something down the road. The same people that say “if you just say ‘no sex no sex no sex no sex ever” you’re going to end up with a bunch of uneducated pregnant STI infected teenagers” say “no guns no guns no guns no guns EVER” and they’re just going to end up with uneducated injured kids / teens / adults who don’t know what to do if they come across a gun or if they, god forbid, should need to use one in self defense.

      • Jen W

        One. Yikes!!

        Two. I think there’s a huge difference between sex and guns. Sex is a normal, biological, hormonal drive. The desire to hold or use a gun? Not so much. All that is learned. Sex is necessary for reproduction. Guns? Not so much.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5A22OJ3VYJGAM7TT4IP62CUEMU melissa

        Sex actually is no longer needed, scientifically, for reproduction. It’s potentially a high risk activity so perhaps all reproduction should be artificial? That would be safer. And tell me that 14 yr olds (or all adults?!) are having sex simply to reproduce? Fighting, and even killing can be considered a natural and biological drive but it’s not unconditionally condoned or passed off a something OK because of that. The need for self perseverance and self fulfillment (say through an enjoyable hobby) can be considered a biological drive and can be done safely. Guns can be necessary for long term survival and self defense. Go ahead, rely on someone else. Speaking first hand from a family that has used a gun in self defense and killed the bad guy instead of being killed ourselves. I for one am thankful for firearms and proper training – yes even from a young age.

    • LT

      I agree with the author. What do people need guns for? This guy had an assault rifle really? For what? Now we know for what, but there is no reason for civilians to have assault rifles. Military only. Hunting, I guess, if people have to, but again not necessary in our society. I am just too disgusted to comment further. Toy guns should not be allowed either. There is nothing funny about guns, ever. That picture is disgusting.

      • jen

        Actually – not an assault rifle. That’s an ignorant and incorrect statement usually perpetrated by the media as a fear tactic. My understanding is it was NOT an automatic weapon, which is a requirement of an assault rifle, but a semi-automatic, which is the classification of every other non-single-load gun out there.

      • Leigha7

        “Hunting, I guess, if people have to, but again not necessary in our society.”

        I grew up in Pennsylvania, where deer hunting is a really big thing. What a lot of people who weren’t raised in that environment don’t realize is that hunting serves a purpose, and not just sport and food. Deer have few to no natural predators. Hunting helps keep the population down, which allows them to remain healthy. Sometimes, the population will start to increase and the game commission will allow hunters to kill two deer instead of one that season. If people didn’t hunt, the population would become overrun, and the deer would get sick. On a more callous note, higher deer populations also mean more deer in the streets, which increases the risk of driving accidents, and hitting a deer does quite a lot of damage.

    • Emily

      I feel compelled to comment after reading what so many of you had to say. Believe it or not, gun safety can be taught without owning or handling a gun. I grew up in Texas, where all my friends dads had a loaded shotgun under the bed. We moved from Michigan, and are not a family of gun enthusiasts. She worried about us playing in houses with loaded guns. She always told us to never treat a gun as a toy, never ever put your finger on the trigger even if it’s not loaded, don’t ever point a gun at anyone…things like that. That is ALL the gun safety a child needs to know. My cousin is a police officer and he told us the same thing. He told us his gun was an important tool for work, but that it was a deadly weapon to be treated with the utmost care and respect. I can assure you that if any of my friends parents had attempted to teach me THIS kind of gun safety (as in letting me hold or shoot a gun) there would have been hell to pay. This is not an appropriate activity for a 3 year old. Its entirely possible to teach gun safety without putting a weapon in your childs hand I agree with very word you wrote, B, and I thank you for writing this. It is a great example of how gun obsessed we are in this country, and how lightly we handle weapons that can take a human life with one small movement of your finger. Here is one of my earliest gun-related childhood memories: the woman who drove me to school every day lost her son to a gun. Her mother (the kids grandma) had a loaded handgun in her purse. On the way to church, the two year old pulled the gun out of granny’s purse and shot himself in the face. I was 5 when that happened, and that was enough to convince me that guns were for adults only.

      • Emily

        By “she”, I meant my mother. Sorry if that was confusing.

    • Christine

      I am 50 years old, I have never been taught gun safety, BECAUSE I don’t needa gun. I’m not in the Army, I’m not a police officer, I in no way work in an industry that uses guns. I pay my taxes which in turn pays for law I enforcement officers to protect me. I am pretty comfortable in knowing if I carried a gun to protect myself, I would in all likelyhood be to scared to use it, or I might accidentally shoot a loved one or a pet. No amount of gun safety is going to make me able to shoot another human being, even if they may be firing at me. Unfortunatatly police were not able to save the people in Colorado, and it is a tragic event, maybe if guns in the States were harder to get, this could have been avoided. Teaching kids how to kill people is not the answer. But what do I know I live in Canada

      • Jaye

        Teaching a kid how to handle a gun safely is not the same as teaching a kid to kill people. Not even close. But thanks for playing.

      • Barfaroni

        You realize that more often than not, police officers don’t arrive until after an accident/crime has been committed? They aren’t there to protect you if there’s an intruder in your home. If someone broke into my house with the intent to harm me, I’d sure as hell rather have a gun in one hand than

      • Leigha7

        Uh…what?

        We were taught gun safety in school. We watched a video where a boy and his friend found a gun and decided it would be cool to play with, and the one accidentally shot the other and killed him. (Yes, they honest to goodness showed us a video about that in like 2nd grade.) Then they lectured us about how guns are dangerous and what we should do if we see one (don’t touch it, and DEFINITELY don’t play with it or ever even think about pointing it at someone).

        I was also taught at home (while never once ever touching a gun) that I was always supposed to remember that 1. a gun is always loaded, 2. you never point a gun at someone unless you want to shoot them.

        I know Boy Scouts teaches gun safety rules as well.

    • AP

      I normally love this blog, but I have to disagree with this post. First of all, that looks like an Airsoft rifle (pellet gun), which is hardly a deadly weapon unless you get someone point blank in the eye.

      Second of all, I think B’s point shows a cultural disconnect.. Urban kids grow up with guns being the naughty/evil/alluring things that bad guys use to kill people. They’ll only see the shooting-and-killing-crime aspect of the gun, and not the sports and hobbies guns can be used for.

      Rural kids grow up viewing guns as a tool used in many sports, and that need to be handled responsibly, with lessons on appropriate gun use taught from an early age. A kid who is properly exposed to gun sports will grow up treating guns the way the urban kids above view knives, scissors, and matches: useful tools that, when used inappropriately, can hurt or kill you or others.

      Neither viewpoint is “wrong.” Everyone is entitled to make their own decision on the role of guns in their home, and certainly, some people are more responsible with guns than others. However, to go as far as to say it’s “disgusting” to see a child holding a “deadly weapon” simply shows the author’s own bias, that a gun is only good for killing other people.

      After all, the child is standing next to a swimming pool in a bathing suit, when drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children in the US. Yet no one would argue that it’s “disgusting” that she’s in the “deadly weapon” of the swimming pool, or that she shouldn’t be allowed near the pool until she’s 18, because she can’t possibly be mature enough to understand how dangerous water is until then.

      • Stine

        And yet you conveniently ignore the fact that gunshot wounds are a leading cause of children’s visits to emergency rooms. Youalso seem to not mention all the children injured when they find a gun, don’t heed their parents lessons and shoot themselves or someone else. Interesting you don’t mention that. Get an effin clue

      • Anonymous

        Gunshot wounds are not the leading cause of children’s visits to emergency rooms.

      • Tracy

        Why so pissy, Stine?

      • Michelle

        I agree with AP’s comment here. I grew up in a small rural town where people had guns for hunting and recreational shooting. I remember when they started bringing drug and weapons dogs to my high school and several people were required to take their guns home that were stored in their trucks. None of us got it. It was completely normal. My dad owned a couple of guns and I think he went out shooting a couple of times, but I never saw those guns or went shooting with him. Now I am married to a man in the Army. We don’t own any guns, but he deals with them on a very regular basis.

        In my view, people who own guns for “protection” are the silly ones. A gun is a tool but if it’s properly stored, it would be of no use for protection because it should be in a gun safe with the ammo in a separate location. Guns for sport are completely understandable though. Many people collect weapons for sport and display that aren’t guns and somehow that doesn’t have the safe effect on people.

        I love B’s blog and while I don’t always agree with everything she says, I do enjoy reading it. This is a worthwhile discussion to have, especially in light of last week’s shooting. The key is not to condemn the other side, whichever side you are on, but to listen and try to understand the other viewpoint. Let’s have some tolerance and understanding.

    • Iain

      There is something deeply disturbing about that photo, and the fact that people would defend such a thing just baffles me. It’s a child. Holding a device which has the sole purpose of killing another human being. That’s not a good thing.

      • Dee

        I have to disagree with you on one point– firearms do not have “the sole purpose of killing another human being.”

      • kate

        furthermore, im pretty sure thats an airsoft rifle, which you’d have a pretty hard time killing anyone with.

    • Katie

      Oh good Lord… If nothing else, teach your children the following rules (sanctioned by the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program!)

      If you see a gun:

      STOP!
      Don’t Touch.
      Leave the Area.
      Tell an Adult.

      Gee, wasn’t that easy?

      • Katie

        Not disagreeing with you. But I just remembered hearing this as a child, and thinking “If there’s a gun there, wouldn’t the adults (ie, owners) ALREADY know about it?”

        :)

      • Katie

        Or maybe your child is at someone else’s house who isn’t as careful with their weapon as they should be. Or maybe they live in a rough neighborhood, and find a throw-away pistol that somebody dumped.

        Regardless of the situation, these rules are basic and easy to learn.

    • Katie

      I grew up in a home without guns. My parents didn’t own any, and they didn’t teach me gun safety beyond “don’t touch it.”

      This, as it turns out, was a very good thing. I was suicidal in my teens, and would have killed myself if I had access to a gun. Yes, I had other options for killing myself, but none were as quick or easy as a gun.

      Two years ago, my brother’s best friend, who’s father is in law enforcement and who hunted, killed himself with a gun. It appears to have been a spontaneous decision.

      People forget that not all gun deaths are accidents or mass murders. When you have guns in your home, and you have older children with the intelligence to get to them, you’re taking a risk I will never take with my kdis.

      • Emily

        This! This this this! I was also suicidal as a teen and attempted twice with pills. Had I had access to a gun I can 100% say I would not be sitting here typing this right now. Does that mean all guns should be banned? Certainly not, but it’s ludicrous to act like not allowing your children to handle a gun is somehow “unsafe.” It’s possible to learn gun safety without ever even touching a gun. And if people want to keep their guns in a house with children, fine, but they need to be unloaded and securely locked away.

      • Katie

        @Emily: Thanks! I’m glad you’re still here, and congrats on being a survivor!

        I sometimes wonder if it’s possible to ever keep anything securely locked away from an ambitious teenager.

      • Leigha7

        I grew up in a community where nearly everyone hunts. Most families have guns. I know lots of people who started hunting in elementary school. What people who grew up in a different environment don’t realize is that kids who were raised that way view guns differently. MOST of the people from my hometown do not see guns as a toys, they do not see guns as something to be taken lightly, they see it as something that is used for hunting and maybe going to a shooting range. I can’t think of a single instance where anyone used one to kill themselves (hanging, pills, slitting their wrist, sure, but no shooting). Also, I imagine it’d be sort of difficult to shoot yourself with a hunting rifle, since they’re kind of big.

        I don’t like guns, I really don’t. My family tried to raise me with a healthy fear of them but I think they overshot it a bit. But it IS possible to own guns safely, regardless of whether you’re talking about preventing small children from accidentally shooting themselves or keeping suicidal teenagers from doing it on purpose.

    • Dee

      First off, the thing that disturbs me the most about the photo (aside from the fact that she’s too young, in my opinion, to be handling a weapon) is the fact that the child has her finger on the trigger. I never touched a firearm until I enlisted in the military years ago, so everything I know now about firearms was taught to be by the Army. That being said, you should never have your finger on the trigger unless you intend to pull it.

      Second, my husband and I keep firearms in our home for our personal safety (seeing as my husband works nights, they do give me a sense of comfort). They are secured, kept separate from the ammunition, and we are the only ones that know where they are located. Other than firing them annually on a secured range to insure that they function properly, we do not intend to use them unless it is for personal protection. When it comes to our son, we will not disclose the location of our weapons, nor the ammunition. When he becomes old enough, he will be taught how to properly handle a firearm– theory when he’s younger, hands on when he’s old enough to hunt (which, in my state, is 12 years old with a licensed mentor; 16 years old to attain a license).

      • Jen W

        I always find it interesting when parents say their children don’t know where the family’s guns are located.

        A study involving 201 parents and an equal number of their children has found that 39 percent of kids knew the location of their parents’ firearms, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons, despite their parents’ assertions to the contrary.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/29/AR2006052900755.html

      • Dee

        My son is a month old.. trust me, he doesn’t know where our weapons are located. If he does, we have bigger issues at hand.

      • Leigha7

        A whopping 39%, huh? A whole not even half? So what you’re saying is that the majority of people who say their kids don’t know where the guns are located are correct.

        I would be concerned about the second bit of information, though. Although it’s possible that with some of the kids whose parents said they hadn’t handled the guns but they actually had, the parents may have let them but not wanted to admit to it in the study because they were afraid it’d make them look like bad parents. Regardless, any kid handling a weapon without parental (or at least responsible adult, with consent of the parents) supervision is just bad.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5A22OJ3VYJGAM7TT4IP62CUEMU melissa

        you’re going to regret not storing it loaded if you ever have to use it. – um sorry burglar / attacker / rapist – can you wait while I go open the safe and then load my gun? Keep it loaded in a fingerprint lock box in an easy to get to location.

      • Dee

        Actually, my husband and I were just talking about that last week for that exact reason. Gunvault.com has a very nice selection.

    • Melissa Monk

      From an Australian point of view this would never even be contemplated. There would be outrage and disbelief at this happening. We do not keep guns in our houses for ‘personal protection’, we do not feel it is our god given right to possess weapons.
      We need a permit and some pretty strict security in our houses to own weapons (and mostly only rifles, handguns and semi-auto and automatic are strictly banned/illegal). People who legally own weapons are mostly recreational shooters and farmers. It is a different world here for us, and in my opinion, a much nicer, safer one. This all came about because of Port Arthur massacre, and I say thank goodness it did.
      This is a purely cultural thing, and is completely unacceptable in my country.

    • CrushLily

      I’m also one of those people from one of those countries that doesn’t and won’t ever understand the US stance on guns, so I find this picture incredibly disturbing.

      It seems to me that most of the people featured on Mommyish and STFU Parents are incapable of teaching their children discipline, basic manners and respect for others. Without those skills, I doubt gun safety education is going to be effective.

    • Lulu

      This debate is so obviously cultural and what you were exposed to. I wasn’t brought up with guns, didn’t even hear about guns, ever, except in the context of the police or some tv show. I literally do not know anyone with a gun or anyone who feels the need to “protect themselves,” or anyone who uses guns for sport or even hunting. The rare hunters I know use bows, but again, I don’t know many hunters.
      I live in a city but I do not feel unsafe. I would never even consider having a gun in my home. My unborn baby will never learn about guns from me and I won’t encourage gun “play’ in the home even in the form of toy guns. I don’t know anybody who does this either.
      But, we live in a city on the east coast, we’re liberals, we’re democrats, and we’re not religious. It seems like the pro gun people are typically the total opposite. I know it’s generalizing but that’s just my observation. I assume others have seen the same pattern?

      • http://www.facebook.com/lindsaychartman Lindsay Cross

        I realize that there’s a pattern, but it’s not always true. I grew up in the Midwest, and while I am pretty liberal, most of my family hunts and has guns in the house. (They have them in locked safes or else I wouldn’t be visiting with my daughter.) I’m about as pro-gun-control as you can get, and I was exposed to them from quite a young age.

      • Barfaroni

        I live in very dense woods with a cougar living on the property. This is a small town with 1 police officer. Which is about 25 minutes away from me. I don’t have time, if I am to be attacked or left for dead, to call the police. Some people do need to protect themselves. Sometimes self protection isn’t about protecting yourself from other people.

      • st

        no, it’s protecting yourself from a cougar living on your property, I guess. If you live an isolated life in the woods, by all means, own a gun.

      • Julie

        I don’t think she was saying that no one out there needs protection. She said she doesn’t know anyone who needs protection and she was saying SHE doesn’t need protection and neither does her family. Just because she doesn’t know anyone in need of a gun, doesn’t mean she thinks the whole country should operate that way. Perhaps if she lived in an area like you, she would feel differently in terms of defending her family’s safety.

      • SMiaVS

        Okay, so you need a weapon. Explain to me exactly how protecting oneself (from another human being or an animal) requires a semi-automatic or automatic weapon. There is NO good reason for those to be accessible to the general public. Period.

      • The13thBlackCat

        I grew up in the south in a rural town, and while my Dad hunted for a little bit, he always used a bow. We’ve always had guns, though, in case we needed them.

        That said, I’m liberal, I’d probably qualify as democrat, and I’m an atheist. And I have my own pistol that I feel much safer for having, and will probably end up with one or two more in my time. So I can see that there’s a pattern, but it’s not always true.

      • Lulu

        no, of course it’s not always true..just commenting on a lot of commenters posts I’ve been reading since this all went down and the majority of gun owners are conservatives and don’t live in the northeast. just an observation, nothing else.

      • deanna

        And there’s a way to be pro-gun-control, without automatically being anti-gun. I’m a bit left of middle, and I respect the Constitution – but the Second Amendment isn’t as clear as people seem to think it is. It does allow for regulation. And what the heck is living near a person that he’d need a military grade gun? That’s the part that confuses me.

      • Leigha7

        I grew up in a small town in the northeast, where nearly everyone hunts. My town was surprisingly mostly Democrat (though I’d guess more centrist than liberal), and most people were “religious” in the sense that they attended church but very few actually cared about it, if you know what I mean.

        I do agree it’s very much cultural, but my bet is the most important part is small town/big city. While there is undoubtedly a bias towards Republican/conservative and religious when it comes to being pro-guns, I don’t think they’re quite as important. My bet is that a religious conservative from a city would be less likely to be pro-gun than a liberal atheist from the country. I do however think it’s kind of funny that people can be very religious and pro-gun at the same time. Doesn’t really make sense to me.

    • K.

      I agree with Lulu, in the sense that I’m not necessarily in agreement that the picture itself or its supporters reflects something terribly awry in society overall (frankly, I’m more often disturbed by the atrocious grammar and spelling so often featured on STFU as a sign of the apocalypse). I mean, it’s not an agreeable picture to ME, non-gun-toting-city-dwelling-liberal that I am, but I sort of think that to deem it the sign of society’s ills is like saying anyone that isn’t like me must be sick.

      My husband, on the other hand, DID grow up with guns and was less startled by the photo than I was.

      He did, however, note a few things that he felt were a little questionable about this photograph, including the age of the girl (he’d prefer somewhere around 8 or 9 to start learning how to shoot, not 3! Most 3yos have the attention-span of a gnat, and all it takes for a little girl to get distracted and swing the barrel this way and that is the ice-cream truck or something), the fact that it’s one child teaching another (he thinks it’s the sort of thing that should only be taught by parents/adults), and that the gun is larger than the child wielding it. Which is a bit much…

    • Mrs. Lynn

      I grew up in a house with guns. Pistols and hunting rifles. I grew up knowing gun safety. And this picture is doing it all wrong! To the person who says she’s learning gun safety, please DON’T keep a gun in your house if that’s what you think.

    • Katie

      I don’t see it, but if it shows up, please accept my apology. I guess my browser cached an old page, and I didn’t see all the comments until I refreshed the page.

      • Katie

        My prior comment about comments being deleted, that is. :oP

      • b5media

        Our apologies if any of your comments have been mistakenly deleted. We’re working on bettering the commenting system on Mommyish.com and have experienced a few technical difficulties in importing all of the past comments over to the new system.
        I’m looking into your past comments now.Thanks!

    • Ipsedixit

      I agree that being exposed to PROPER handling and care of firearms is a good idea, especially if there are guns in the house (even if they are locked up). Someone should know the full power and consequences of shooting a firearm if they are going to be exposed to them.

      That said, the picture in the post is NOT a good example of “teaching” firearm safety. That child could not handle that weapon without the help of someone and as such, she should not be touching it. She just way too young.

      If you can’t understand the consequences of using a firearm, you are too young to be taught.

      If you’re too young to be held accountable for your actions if you were to hurt someone, you shouldn’t be handling a weapon.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I grew up just outside a major city in northeastern US. I was taught to use a gun when I was 12 or 13. My mom was taught when she was 9 or 10. I was taught it was not a toy, and to treat it with the utmost respect. There are no pictures of me holding a gun, and I never, ever, EVER told anyone if or what guns we had in the house. I never looked for guns in any house I was in; they had no mystery for me, and I knew they could hurt me (or someone else) if I wasn’t careful with them. Guns are not toys, children holding them are not cute. Gun safety = good. Treating guns like they’re baby’s first ice cream cone and oooing and aaaahing over it = stupid and bad. That’s what the picture in the post above does.

    • Shannon

      Pictures like this disgust me. Good post, B. And good riddance to whiny people who are so horribly offended that many people think kids playing with guns in this way is sickening.

    • The13thBlackCat

      Wow. I guess it’s because I grew up in the southern US, but I really don’t see why this is worth so much concern. Admittedly, the girl is way too young to be playing with guns (even an Airsoft rifle, if that is one), but I thought it was more a picture of her big brother kind of showing it off to her, and her mom thought it was a cute scene. Not the greatest idea where the entire internet is around to criticize you, but I don’t think anyone on the internet always has the best ideas.

      My Dad’s an ex-Marine, and we’ve always had weapons of various kinds of lethality in the house, guns included. And I was taught from the earliest possible age to stay far away from them, even if I had an adult around, because I could accidentally hurt myself. And you know, I LISTENED, because I didn’t want to hurt myself or disobey my parents and they had it pounded into my head how dangerous they could be.

      I only learned to shoot one when I was eighteen, because Dad bought me and Mom our own 9mm pistols, and I’m looking forward to getting my concealed-carry permit when I turn twenty-one. I feel a lot safer even just having an unloaded pistol than I would without one…I’d rather have options than not. The world’s too dangerous to just hope you’ll never need to defend yourself from something or someone. And yeah, it SHOULDN’T be that way, but it still IS.

      And for all the people who find civilian gun ownership “disgusting” or “terrifying”…some of us just LIKE guns. I certainly don’t intend to go shoot up anything any time soon, but I’ve always liked them for their craftsmanship, design, and something I can’t quite place. The point is, owning a gun or wanting to doesn’t automatically make you a psychopath, and I really would appreciate not being lumped in with the sick pieces of shit who happen to use guns as their choice of weapon when destroying others’ lives, if that’s okay with you.

    • LaNeshe Miller

      I learned how to shoot a gun when I was about 10. My grandfather taught my sister and I at a young age and it was a past time to shoot bottles in the back yard. I don’t think has harmed me as a person at all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tina-Earl/100000292425283 Tina Earl

      If children are going to be in a home with firearms, they should be taught both how to safely handle them, and that they are dangerous. I repeatedly have the conversation with my almost 4 year old and my almost 6 year old about weapons safety. My firearms hold no mystery to them. Therefore when they see them they have no real interest in them. When we take a trip to Georgia to see my family in a few weeks, my daughter will get to go to the range with us. She will have the rules that were ingrained into me growing up and then reinforced in the Marines repeated over and over before then….
      1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded
      2. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire
      3. Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot
      4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

      A boy my son’s age was killed tonight by shooting himself in the head. The details are not all out yet. The first thing I did was call the kids in and quiz them about gun safety. Do we touch a gun without an adult, what do we do if we see a gun, what do we do if we see a kid with a gun ect.

      The key is taking away the mystery, and educating our children.

    • C25

      I grew up with guns but was simply told not to touch them. I started competitive shooting when I was 15. I wish I’d started learning the basics of shooting at 5 like many of my teammates and competitors. It would make getting to the Olympics a little easier, and it would have made finding scholarships easier.

      I also attempted suicide as a teen, as I see a few here have. I had a gun in my room (the only one in our house at that point) from my 16th birthday on. I would never have disrespected my gun enough to kill myself with it. I’d been taught so much respect for it that I could never have shot any living thing with it.

      This kid shouldn’t have her finger on the trigger of the .22 and she shouldn’t be instructed by her brother- it should be an adult. Those are the only issues I have with this pic. I won’t start my kids on .22s but they’ll certainly be learning gun safety with air rifles at that age.

    • Leigha7

      Did anyone besides you bring up semi-automatics, though?

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