• Mon, Feb 3 - 1:00 pm ET

When It Comes To Guns In The Home, Parents Put Way Too Much Faith In Their Kids

88879321I knew Diane Sawyer’s special on kids and guns that aired Friday night was going to disturb me. I’m really afraid of guns and the thought of having one in a house with kids terrifies me. I just didn’t realize what was going to disturb me most of all – that gun-owning parents seem to have an unrelenting faith that their kids either don’t know where their guns are, or have no interest. Wrong.

The special opened with a segment that shows just how strong a child’s curiosity is when it comes to guns. Kids were left alone in a room with guns, after having just taken a gun safety course. In most cases the children seemed to grasp that guns were dangerous and shouldn’t be touched – but that didn’t stop their overwhelming curiosity. They clearly didn’t grasp that touching a gun could end in death – as evidenced by several children who actually looked down the barrel – one pulling the trigger right in his own face saying, when I pointed at me it didn’t shoot. 

“It’s not until much later in childhood that adolescents and children understand that death doesn’t mean going to sleep,” says Doctor Marjorie Sanfilippo who specializes in child psychology and helped with the experiment. Time and time again, kids who knew better went for the guns. Some even waved them around, narrating what they were doing as they were crossing the line. It’s glaringly obvious that these children cannot grasp the grave seriousness of the situation. We’re putting way too much faith in our young children – forgetting that they are kids. Forgetting that the only exposure they’ve had to guns is probably playing with them as “toys.”

“They can learn the knowledge. They can sit down and you can ask them to repeat it – but you can’t educate curiosity out of a child,” Sanfillippo says.

You can’t educate curiosity out of a child. This statement really stayed with me. I remember being a child and knowing every hiding place my parents had for everything. I knew where my mom left our stash of emergency cash – in a seemingly broken flap of plywood under her bathroom sink. I knew where my dad kept his stash of cigarettes in the garage. I knew where the Christmas presents were hidden – every year. Kids are curious – and they have nothing better to do that nose around the house all day.

It was terrifying to see scene after scene of parents revealing the “hiding places” of their loaded guns; under a stack of clothes in their closet, behind some hanging coats in the hall, in hollowed-out bibles, even in make-up bags. Time and time again these parents were shocked that their children could point to where there guns were kept in moments. The parents, seemingly comforted by the fact that they’ve told their kids not to touch. One woman even left her loaded gun on the kitchen table, confident that her young child would never touch it and shocked to see that she had. I don’t understand this.

I wish I could hypothesize that this was creative editing on the part of the producers, but with 40% of gun owners who have children in the home not storing their weapons in locked safes – I think the show was a pretty fair representation of where we are going wrong. People always get obstinate when the subject of guns is brought up – and I’m talking about both sides. It’s just one of those issues. Whenever I write a story about kids and guns, there are plenty of people lining up to talk about how safe their guns are. I’ll believe it if safe means “in a safe,” not under a pile of clothes at the top of a closet.

That’s just stupid.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • keelhaulrose

    My daughter is bright, well behaved, and usually has good sense.
    Then she’ll go and do something like trying to jump on mommy and daddy’s bed, which is situated under a low ceiling.
    “You can’t educate the curiosity out of a kid” is one of the most accurate statements I’ve ever heard. I may trust my daughter not to play with knives, but I’m not leaving one around. One mistake is all it takes.

    • brebay

      I still vividly remember sewing through my finger with the sewing machine in home ec in seventh grade. It wasn’t an accident. I wasn’t a particularly impulsive kid. I just had this overwhelming need to KNOW exactly what would happen. I loved that statement too, it’s such a good counter to “well, I teach my kids, and they listen.” Ah, what a wonderful world that would be!

    • AP

      Re: Knives. Do you really hide all your knives away from your children? Because counter knife blocks- or steak knives in the silverware drawer- are common in most homes. Is it really a thing now to lock up knives?

    • keelhaulrose

      I don’t lock up my knives. But when my younger daughter started showing an interest in them and started climbing to reach them I moved them further out of her reach. And I certainly don’t leave any lying around where a child might easily find them/ pick them up.
      I’ve been to homes where there are guns in very easily accessible areas. The excuse I’ve heard a lot is “well, if I need it in a hurry it won’t do me any good in a safe”. That might be well and good with trained, responsible adults (and judging by crime/suicide rates that statement could be argued), but with kids it’s a different ballgame.

    • SarahJesness

      If a child is in the house, the odds of the kid getting ahold of the gun and mishandling it are probably FAR greater than the odds of the adult fending off an intruder with a gun, yes?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Unfortunately… Yes.

    • Personal

      Well, ours are kept in a mug up high above the kitchen cabinets. I can barely reach them. I don’t know if others do this, but my husband does. :) Our kids are 4 and 1.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I fully well remember knowing not to stick my fingernail in the outlet on the wall. But I wanted to KNOW what would happen. I remember hearing my mom’s voice in my head saying no, but I did it anyway. And the intense shock that shot through my whole body taught me why she said no.

    • keelhaulrose

      My mom taught me from before I could remember that the stove is hot. I watched her cook food on it, and knew food went on cold and came off hot. I still touched it, to see how hot it was. My mom had stepped away for less than ten seconds to attend to my baby brother. It really was that quick, and I still have the scar.

    • pixie

      I forget how old I was at the time, (old enough to know better, but I can’t remember the exact age) but there was a point where I decided I wanted to know what would happen if I stapled my thumb. Now, I don’t ever remember actually being told not to do that, but it seems pretty common sense not to. I still did it. It sucked.

  • Kay_Sue

    “that gun-owning parents seem to have an unrelenting faith that their kids either don’t know where their guns are, or have no interest. Wrong.”

    Or it could be that they keep their guns safely out of reach, behind lock and key, and then keep the ability to get into said locked space also safely out of reach. But, hey, unrelenting faith, if you want to call it that, I guess.

    • Maria Guido

      I’m speaking specifically to the parents on this show – who did not have safes – not all gun owners.

    • Kay_Sue

      It comes across as seriously generalized in that instance, to be honest. I appreciate the clarification, though.

    • Maria Guido

      I don’t know if you saw it, but honestly as a responsible gun owner I think you would have been even more disturbed than I was.

    • Kay_Sue

      That’s a big reason I didn’t watch it. The still frame you had at the top of the column on Friday was giving me a small pang of anxiety every time I scrolled past it, and then reading your tweets…nope. It would give me a panic attack.

      We shouldn’t need a documentary to tell us that kids and guns don’t mix. They don’t. As a parent, if you own firearms, you should be fully committed to doing EVERYTHING in your power to keep them separated, until you are ready to introduce them on proper and safer terms. “Hiding” them does not count. Period. “Hiding” them is ridiculous. Unless you have zombies actively crawling through your windows there is no reason to have a loaded gun and a child in your home. /end mini rant and I apologize for getting on my soapbox

      It’s honestly one of my biggest fears too. We’re in a gun-happy state, and while I know ours are safely stored, I’m sure there are tons of people that don’t store theirs appropriately in the immediate vicinity. Hell, my in-laws don’t, and that’s a stroke waiting to happen any time we visit them. We’ve taught our seven year old basic safety in the form of “don’t ever touch it unless mom or dad are there and say it is okay” , but there’s literally NO WAY for us to test that he’ll listen if we’re not there–like, for instance, at a sleepover, if he runs into one of this 40%. It’s really just a “hope and pray” situation, and I hate feeling that powerless.

    • Natasha B

      Yes, yes, and yes. Irresponsible gun owners are scary. Responsible ones are not. This is why we have safes-our guns are kept under lock and key.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I saw a few minutes where they put a bunch of kids in a fenced-in playground with limited direct adult supervision, and left two brightly colored rifles out for them to find – Barbie pink and rainbow swirl. I did agree with the little girl who was a part of the experiment (who dropped it like it was on fire when she found out it was a real gun) who asked the gun company not to make a gun that looked like a toy. To say it was skewed is an understatement, at least the 5 minutes I watched before tweaking out and watching Despicable Me 2.

    • Kay_Sue

      And I am deeply disappointed, to be honest, that despite the fact that you yourself state that 40% of gun owners with children in the home store their guns improperly–meaning that a full /60%/ do store their firearms properly–you go ahead and lump us all in with that opening statement.

      Typically, Mommyish is a site where I feel, even if the author says something I don’t agree with, they are at least accurate and fair to their critics. This piece really disappoints, especially considering the fact that many of your other pieces on this subject–despite our differing opinions on the subject–are more balanced.

  • Nat

    That’s just frightening. My father hunted so we had guns in our home, in a locked gun safe and they were never stored loaded. I knew where the guns were and knew I was never to touch them or the gun safe without my father’s permission (he let me touch UNLOADED guns to teach me gun safety – most importantly NEVER POINT A GUN AT YOURSELF OR ANOTHER PERSON)

    That said I agree that guns are dangerous and wouldn’t have them in my home with my kid, but I can’t believe there are parents who leave LOADED guns unsecured in a house with children. They’re asking for something to go terribly wrong.

    • ted3553

      Everyone I knew growing up hunted. That means there were guns around but they were locked up or not loaded. Kids were taught about guns and about gun safety. Having a loaded gun in your house not locked up is a terrible idea

  • Guest

    I am one of those kids who grew up with loaded guns in the house and lived to tell the tale (I’m in my 40′s now). Is it something I’ll do with my own children? Nope. Is it the smartest idea in the world? Nope. It is possible to do it safely? Yes, I think so. But it requires vigilant and responsible parents and parents who are willing to be unrelenting in teaching gun respect and gun safety. I don’t think most of today’s parents are capable of that…

  • Joe

    This really moved me to comment. I grew up in a house with guns that were never loaded but not locked up and we were HUGE on gun safety and I would never have dared touch one. It was just so far out of line that I never would have thought to do it. I had the fear put in me about what they were and what they could do.

    And still I would never ever condone keeping guns that weren’t under lock and key in a home with small children. For every kid that’s like me there’s another kid who’s a little too curious for their own good. When I look back on it, I think my parents were lucky to have kids that didn’t test the faith they put in them. Because I sure wouldn’t put that kind of faith in any kids I had, no matter how responsible they had shown themselves to be. How could you trust a young child to carry that kind of responsibility?

    • Angela

      Yes, exactly! My mom had a gun which she never kept locked up although she did store the gun, the clip, and the ammo separately. She believed that they were so well hidden that we didn’t know where they were which of course we did. She did pretty strongly emphasize gun safety and my sister and I never dared touch the gun even though we knew exactly where it was. But my brother was another story. More than once I caught him showing his friends the gun. He was way too fascinated to leave it alone. And the worst is that when I told my mom what he was up to she went into denial, insisting that he never could have sniffed out her hiding place. Fortunately no one was ever hurt.

    • Rachel Sea

      I knew not to touch any gun that didn’t belong to me (I had a bb gun, and later a .22) but that knowledge was put into me by someone I respected out of fear, and I was a compliant kid. If either of us had been different people, I might have blown a hole in something.

  • jane

    Parents often put way too much faith in their kids, period. I’m a HS teacher, and I cannot tell you how often I get a parent say to me “My darling child X swears that they turned in the assignment, and I’m sure they wouldn’t lie to me.” WUT? Were you not an adolescent? Kids lie and steal and cheat all the time. That’s the point of parenting – to stop them from doing that shiz.

    The difference here is that misguided (but lovely) faith could potentially lead to kids killing themselves or others.

    Love the hell outta your kids, but don’t assume that they’re going to consistently listen to you or follow your rules or really even believe that you know what you’re talking about until they’re 22 years old.

  • whiteroses

    My uncle was six years old when he shot himself in the head. My grandfather was cleaning his guns and thought all of them were unloaded.

    You can tell your kids until you’re blue in the face not to touch a gun. My grandfather certainly did. And we are very lucky that my uncle is still alive and not a vegetable. His personality changed 360 degrees, but he’s alive thanks to an excellent surgical team. It could have easily gone the other way.

    You can’t and shouldn’t trust a child with a deadly weapon. No matter how smart you think they are, no matter how careful you are with it. If it’s not under lock and key, your kid isn’t safe. The end.

  • My2bits

    Our kids know the “hiding place” for our guns – in a safe with a combination that only their father and I know. We would NEVER leave a gun where a child could get to it and just trust them to stay away. It would be just like sitting them down next to a giant bowl of candy, telling them not to touch it, and leaving them alone for an hour or so. Only, the gun could have much more deadly consequences. Who, in their right minds, would leave guns unlocked in a house with children, or even where children could possibly visit?

    • arrow2010

      Aren’t you special?

  • Alex

    You know, I am pretty goddamn protective of my constitutional right to keep and own firearms for whatever reason I please. And even I fear gun-owners who are casual about their storage and use, so I completely understand the apprehension. Kids are curious and accidents happen, and even if your kids have been taught gun safety backwards and forwards doesn’t mean their friends have.

    We have several guns, but they are kept unloaded (we buy ammo on our way out to shoot and hunt) and in a keycoded safe. If still that causes you to prohibit your children to visit or you don’t believe me, then I (sort of) understand and won’t try to convince you otherwise. I recognize that it isn’t a personal affront and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.

  • arrow2010

    I guess nobody ever heard of a gun safe?

  • arrow2010

    Question to liberals – how much time does the man of the house have to retrieve his locked-up gun(in a safe) after an intruder breaks in? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Now imagine fumbling in the dark, trying to open a combination lock, *BANG* your family is now dead because you locked your gun in a safe to “protect” your family.

    • CMJ

      You do know that liberals own guns, right?

    • jane

      When you can point to statistics that show that MORE people have successfully used guns to protect themselves in their own homes and FEWER children are accidentally shot by themselves or others, I will consider entertaining your simplistic (and, bonus! Sexist) question.

    • gretta

      I believe the chance that some crazed intruder sneaks into my house is far less than the chance that my precious child would be injured or killed by a weapon foolishly left unsecured.

    • AlbinoWino

      And the troll appears. So then why are people with guns in the home more likely to die from a homicide? Or even more so die from suicide? Believing that having a gun in the home automatically makes you safer is pretty damn naive. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/10/929.full

    • Bria

      Biometric safe bolted to the side of the bed. Less than 5 seconds to swipe a fingerprint and open it.

    • Bria

      Also the “man of the house” comment is just stupid and sexist. The gun is MINE and is kept on MY side of the bed, not my husbands. So it takes the WOMAN of the house less than 5 seconds to retrieve her gun.

    • brebay

      Man of the house? Are your knuckles calloused yet?

    • Véronique Houde

      Our resident troll is back! I was actually wondering what had happened to you!

    • Gangle

      Time it takes me to jump out of the window if an intruder breaks in: 2 seconds flat.

    • whiteroses

      A gun doesn’t make you safer. Responsible use of said gun might.

    • Psych Student

      I wish to make a suggestion. If you want to ask a serious question and get real answers, perhaps not be so GODDAMN SEXIST! The “man of the house”?! Fuck that! There is no man of my house because I’m a woman with a wife and we are *both* capable of defending ourselves and our house. We are also smart enough to know that running is *always* an option. We are not people who “stand our ground”. We are people who let the cops do their job and would prefer to escape a threating situation and then call the cops. More over, don’t ever approach anyone with that “man of the house” bullshit. It is offensive and unacceptable.

  • kay

    I read this headline as “when it comes to gum in the home”… as a child who somehow would always get gum in my hair (how did i do that? WHY?) I can attest that gum in a home can also be unsafe.

  • Lee

    The only thing I got from this show is you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t if you are the parent of a young boy.

    • brebay

      damned if you don’t do what?

    • Lee

      Damned if you teach them about guns, damned if you don’t. Damned if you keep a gun in your house, damned if you don’t since your kid will be going to other peoples house. Damned if you talk to neighbors or parents about their firearms (there were some pissed off people in that show) and damned if you don’t. If you have a gun you kid might get shot, if you don’t have a gun you might get shot. It seemed like the point they were driving is that young boys will touch the guns regardless of what they are taught. Except for buying a safe and talking to your neighbors
      there weren’t any other suggestions on how to keep your kids safe.

    • brebay

      Okay, got it. just wasn’t sure what you were saying.

  • Bria

    A gun can be kept in a home with children if done correctly. The parents in this study definitely underestimated the curiosity of children. We have a gun in our home, which is kept in a biometric safe that can only be opened by my fingerprint and my husbands fingerprint. I would never ever ever leave a gun, loaded or unloaded, anywhere that wasn’t securely locked up.

    ETA: I think anyone who is keeping a gun in their home needs to take a lesson in gun safety.

  • Paul White

    Locked safes are NOT the only acceptable storage. There are other ways to secure firearms; my choice is usually trigger locks since they’re a lot more affordable and don’t take up gobs of space. And you’d need power tools to break a decent one.

  • Paul White

    Here’s my setup: I carry my 1911 during waking hours. During bed–when Sam’s in the crib and I’m asleep–it’s in the dresser drawer (which, he can’t get to because he’s in the crib). The other guns are secured with trigger locks.

    In a few years I may have to revise my nighttime storage when he’s able to get out of bed/the crib by himself but for now it’s fine because the only time it’s not under my control he’s secured too.

    It’s 100% possible to have guns in a house with kids and do it in a responsible fashion. But you can’t leave them entirely unsecured. Requiring safes is more than a bit much since there are other ways to mechanically render them inert (trigger or slide locks being the easiest). But you can’t just say leave them and the ammo both available and say you’re being safe.

  • Remember Me, or else!

    As a responsible cocaine user, who keeps his cocaine away from his kids, I find gun owners deplorable!!!

  • Amber Starr

    I was a sneaky-ass little kid. There was nothing too out of reach or hidden too well that I couldn’t find…. If my parents had a gun in the house, I would’ve known about it. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the exception. All little kids are crafty little beings who have nothing better to do than find all the shit that you don’t want them to find.

  • SarahJesness

    My dad had guns in our house… Buuuut they were locked away somewhere and we never knew he even had any until we were older. (and even then, we never figured out where he kept them) He used to hunt when he lived in Minnesota, but he stopped when he moved to Texas because apparently hunting is a lot more expensive here. My mom was big on not letting us around the guns, so he never showed them to us. In a different environment, if mom had different views, I imagine my dad would’ve let us shoot when we got older… But be all like, crazy on gun safety. I got to use a BB gun when I was 16 (because I managed to get to a damn rural area for once) and he was just going on and on about how to handle a gun and stuff.

    We had a gun safety week in elementary school, established gun safety in me. (I was a really paranoid kid so I was quick to listen) The police officer, while giving a speech one day, put a (fake) gun on the desk of a nearby student. Apparently he does that every year he gives the speech to see if the kid will touch the gun. This kid did, and apparently it happened nearly every year. Bleh…

    The way I see it, if you’re going to have guns in the house with children, ALWAYS have them locked up. Even if you’re teaching the kid to shoot for hunting or sport or whatever, and he can use the gun safely out on the range, who wants to take chances? If the kid isn’t supervised, the gun should be locked up. I hate parents who are irresponsible about these things. Really, I think being too trusting of their kids around guns is a symptom of being too trusting of their kids in general.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    This is why I keep saying that “responsible gun-owner” is an oxymoron.

    I firmly believe that most, if not all, conflicts can and should be resolved nonviolently.

    • Gangle

      Oh shagging hell, yes.

    • whiteroses

      Sure. And, like most gun owners, I agree with you.

      But the problem happens when the other person would rather just shoot you first and ask questions later.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      You do realize you’re more likely to be shot with your own gun, yes?

    • Gangle

      Or shoot a family member. Or an unarmed person.

    • whiteroses

      Just curious- what are your statistics for that? I’m not being belligerent, I genuinely want to know.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty
    • Paul White

      Most of us gun owners DO resolve conflicts non-violently. Seriously, if we all turned to violence to solve all conflicts we’d be dead by now.

  • SC Belle

    Wow, I guess I’m the lone dissenter here. We have guns in the house. Most are kept locked in a safe, the kids do not know the combination. However, my husband, a CWP holder, always keeps his pistol with him until he goes to bed, then it’s kept on a high shelf by his bed. The kids couldn’t get to it without his knowledge and he could get to it in case of emergency. I have a rifle locked in a combination box at the top of my closet. The box is unlocked every night my husband is away so we always have a firearm ready to use. Again the kids could not get to it without my knowledge. The gun is locked up again during the day. And we (meaning my husband, not me) have used the firearm to protect us. We were on vacay at the lake in a small cabin. I was annoyed he brought the gun but someone tried to break into the rented cabin and I was glad he had it. He got the gun while I called 911 and calmly informed the person trying to get in the window that he had called 911 and was armed and would shoot whoever tried to get in. Not surprisingly the person left. A few days later, a woman who was alone at her cabin was robbed and raped. Same person? I don’t know but I am glad we are armed.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I call bullshit on your story.

    • Gangle

      Do you know what I (a tiny, lone 50kg woman) did to scare off an intruder who stood head and shoulders taller than me and easily twice my weight when I found him inside my home? I roared ‘Get the fuck out of my fucking house I have fucking called the fucking cops!’ He ran away and I prepared to run in the opposite direction. Twice more I have had people attempt to break into my home when I was alone, each time I screamed that I had called the cops (which I did) and that they needed to fuck off. It always worked. Another couple of times we had prowlers while my husband and dog were home. Turning on the lights and making a racket scared them off every single time. So you needed to use a dangerous and violent woman to make someone leave. All I needed was a good set of lungs. Go figure.

    • Me-Me

      Cops take time. Too much time. Being able to defend yourself can save your life.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I don’t know anyone who owns a gun. It’s not very Canadian to own a handgun. A hunting rifle, maybe, but carrying a concealed weapon is illegal, your firearm cannot be loaded when it’s being transported or stored (which must be registered to you or else you’re committing a crime, and you must be licensed to own it in the first place) and you have to go through an extensive background check.

    End result is most people just don’t bother. If I ever discovered someone I knew owned a gun, I’d spend less time with them, I would not go to their house, and I wouldn’t let my son go there either. This may sound extreme to an American, where guns are a constitutional right, but here they’re a privilege and one most forgo. I can’t recall ever evening seeing a real gun in person before.

    Would I trust any child not to touch a gun? Pfft. No.

    • brebay

      Here’s what is so sad, and so American (yes, I’m a US citizen) about the way many Americans perceive the 2nd amendment: “So, tell me, why do you own 3 handguns?” …”Because it’s my constitutional right”…”Yes, that’s why you CAN, but I’m asking why you DO.”…”because of my 2nd amendment right to bear arms.” …okay then, nevermind. I personally don’t want a gun in my home, but if you believe you need one for safety, I don’t begrudge you that. The thing that’s so uniquely American is not that we can and do own handguns, but that we LOVE them so damned much. handguns. not hunting or sporting guns, handguns. If you feel you need to have the ability to kill another human in a split second within easy reach, okay, you’re entitled, but it should be a very sobering thought, it shouldn’t give you a hard-on. We’re unique among developed countries in using the word “love” to describe handguns. You have the unstable developing world, the Taliban-controlled countries, and us, the most Christian country in the world. Obviously I’m not speaking about every individual, including many who’ve expressed their views on here, but no one can deny that Americans love guns. So, despite all the proof that someone who lives in your home is FAR more likely to be killed with a gun kept in the home than someone breaking into it, you do have the right own them. But it’s the love, the excitement that so many people get by holding one in their hand that is truly sad, truly sick, and truly un-Christ-like.

    • Crushlily

      I’m glad you said this, because as an Australian, this entire discussion is just so completely outside my frame of reference. When we hear about accidental gun deaths in America on the news we just can not comprehend how its legal to own guns and why. Sure we know about your constitution and rights and need to protect yourself and hunt and blah blah blah, but we just do.not.get why you need them so much. I know people who’d think they would be safer in Iraq or Syria or Somalia than in the US. This is the best attempt at an explanation I’ve seen.

    • Gangle

      Fellow Australian here. As I understand it, to own a handgun you must first show proof that you are a sporting target-shooting enthusiast, as that is the only approved use of a handgun by a civilian here. You have to attend a police-approved target-shooting club for a minimum of six months before you can even apply. Once you have applied, and have been accepted you have a further months or so probationary period where you must continue to attend the target-shooting range, get training in handling, shooting, caring for, transporting and storing a handgun, and you must be able to pass an exam in these areas. Then, once you have met these guidelines, you may approach a licenced gun dealer to purchase one low-calibre handgun. It must be registered with the police. You may apply later down the track for a higher-calibre gun, but only if you get approval. You may not sell your gun to whoever you wish, they also must be a current holder of a handgun licence.. to do otherwise is a criminal act. You may not fire or load or carry your gun outside of a police approved shooting range. To continue to hold a licence you must attend a minimum number of target-shooting events and competitions per year, or your licence will be revoked and your gun seized. Because apart from target-shooting for sport, the only other use for a handgun is to kill a human. I don’t understand why so many Americans feel so afraid if they aren’t ‘packing heat’. I refuse to believe that their country is inherently more dangerous than any other developed country. The paranoia is staggering.

    • whiteroses

      I’m an American married to an Australian- and my husband and I have had this conversation many times.

      For Americans- at least most of the Americans I know- it’s not about getting some sort of sick charge from holding weaponry. It’s because there’s at least one incident in their lives that has lead them to believe that a conceal carry permit might save their lives one day.

      Australian gun control is amazing. The reasons why that wouldn’t work in the US are manifold. Australia is an isolated island with pretty tight border control. America is directly above a continent that’s a pipeline for most of the illegal drugs you can get on the open market. America isn’t more dangerous than most other developed nations, but we do seem to be populated by a lot of idiots. All it takes is for you to get mugged once by someone carrying a semi-automatic, and you’d be surprised how quickly you’d find a use for a gun. And I’m saying this as someone who had a family member with a life-threatening gun injury.

      I have no patience for someone who carries firearms illegally. But the people most affected by gun control laws aren’t the folks who actually care about those laws. Your average law abiding citizen isn’t going to stand a chance against a criminal with a Glock.

    • AlbinoWino

      I constantly hear people saying that only law abiding gun owners will be affected by gun control. How so? One of the biggest provisions most people support being expanded in regards to gun control is background checks. We should make them universal and a large number of gun purchases already go through them. Isn’t it worth that inconvenience to at least make it harder for criminals/domestic abusers/etc. to get their hands on them? And why is it the worst thing in the world if we have some limits on magazine size and types of weapons? Do you really need a clip with dozens of bullets to defend yourself?

      And this whole wet dream scenario a lot of gun owners have in their heads of how they’re going to defend themselves with their guns gets a bit ridiculous. Could you possibly defend yourself against another trying to do you harm with a gun? Sure. Is it guaranteed? Absolutely not. What if a mugger comes up from behind you with a gun to your back? Are you going to magically turn around with your gun in hand and take them out no problem? What if you can’t get to your gun in time in your home when an burglar breaks in? A gun is never going to be a guarantee of anything. Have you never heard the story where 3 cops are sitting armed in a shop and someone comes in and kills all 3 of them? Guns don’t make people invincible. And I’m really curious as to why a lot of gun owners conveniently ignore statistics that show gun owners are actually more likely to die from a homicide. Even more so with suicide. Our nation has the highest incidence of gun related deaths for a reason. Guns currently kill twice as many children as cancer. That is at the heart of this issue and we conveniently ignore that and berate people who even attempt to find some way to curb them. Sorry, but always using the “having more guns will make us safer” trope doesn’t have any of the facts to back it up.

    • whiteroses

      I’m pretty sure I never said any of that. I don’t think that just having a gun automatically guarantees my safety. You also have to know how to use it. I completely support extensive background checks before gun purchases. Some people should never own any type of weaponry.

      But I don’t think the most effective response is taking away guns from people who use and store them responsibly- therefore leaving those who own guns illegally to still own said gun.

    • AlbinoWino

      Specifically, which proposed law has ever proposed taking away a gun from a law abiding citizen? This is just paranoid dribble the NRA dreams up with no roots in fact. Even in cases where they have proposed reducing magazine size or not selling certain weapons they have maintained people already owning these weapons wouldn’t have them seized.

    • whiteroses

      Statistics? Facts?

    • Me-Me

      Um Connecticut is attempting to do just that. Disarm all citizens. Good luck with that.

    • Psych Student

      We add to that the “shoot first, ask questions later” policy that seems to come with gun ownership and we have *far* more deaths and injuries than we should. To back this statement search for articles about people who shot an “intruder” who turned out to be their child/parent/friend/spouse/etc. I would guess that the people who fired these shots would identify themselves as “responsible gun owners” who may even have kept their guns under lock-and-key who figured they would only ever use their guns in self-defense. And they did. Their attempts at self-defense killed an innocent person. I should admit that I’m not a “fight” person when something happens. I freeze first, then, as needed, I choose flight. My wife and I have had numerous discussions about what happens if someone breaks into our home – out the window we go! If someone holds us at gunpoint to rob us – give the our crap without hesitation! Why would I fight back? I have a wife and one day kids. I don’t think for a minute that I need to defend myself if I have a better option. If I must fight, I would rather opt for a kitchen knife, my nails, my feet, my fists, breaking fingers, and my favorite plan, poking eyes out.

    • Me-Me

      I said above, that most of us legal carrying people advocate strict gun buying laws. We have NO problem with background checks because we aren’t criminals. I am ex military. I want people who are trying to buy firearms checked out completely. If you have nothing to hide, whats the big deal? Ok and I urge you, even if you are against firearms to check out a conceal carry class. Just for the info. What we need to know legally and what to do in situations like you described above. Carrying isn’t automatically going to make you come out the victor. But if gives you a better chance should someone threaten you with or without a gun, knife, ect. We are trained to know how to handle those situations. We are told, taught that the first thing you do, is walk away. Only pull your weapon if you have to use it. Avoid using it at all costs. Last resort. And knowing self defense, hand to hand is also a good idea in case you are taken from behind. If you have paid attention recently, the cases of intruders being stopped from doing harm by gun owners has gone up. In Detroit alone, in just 2 weeks, 5 men at different times have been shot and killed when they were breaking in to homes or attempting to injure someone. Maybe these idoits will stop and think at some point, Hmm maybe we shouldn’t chance getting our asses blown (cuz you don’t go for the kill shot if you can avoid it) off and I don’t know not rob people? I firmly believe that the more legal carriers will deter criminals from mischief. Cuz who knows if that old lady they are going to rob, or that woman they want to rape is actually carrying. Oh and in those gun owner related deaths. They are usually stupid gun owners who tho legally allowed, probably shouldn’t. Always treat your firearms as if they are loaded. That cop that just killed his pregnant wife. I call bullshit. He said he was cleaning his gun and didn’t know it was loaded. Yea right. He was a cop, its his damn job to know this.

    • Gangle

      I have some friends who, in their earlier, very much misspent youth would, ah, do some very naughty things in regards to border security and illegal items. They would say that Australian borders are not as tight as the rest of us would like to believe. People in Australia, very bad, very stupid people, have guns. We have tight gun laws now, but it wasn’t that long ago that we had very loose gun laws.. I assume all the weapons that bad guys got back then were not turned into the police station when the new laws came in. And fire-arms do get into the country. That doesn’t mean the rest of us need to carry one on our person, or have one out of a safe and loaded ready to use to protect ourselves. My little brother has back-packed around the world. He has always been a smart, savvy, safe customer when it comes to travel. He has travelled through many parts of the middle east, Egypt, and Syria. where he did feel unsafe? In America, with citizens walking around with weapons strapped to their bodies.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Most of the “illegal” guns in America were stolen from law-abiding “responsible” gun owners.

    • whiteroses

      Statistics?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Well, if it’s stolen, you obviously weren’t keeping it safely locked up!

    • whiteroses

      You make some valid points, but assuming that all of us are armed at all times is a gross generalization.

      The right to keep and bear arms is part of the American constitution. To my knowledge, Australia has no such law.

      http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

    • Gangle

      No, I never assumed that all Americans own guns, let alone armed at all times. And you are right, we as citizens have never held the constitutional right to bear arms. But we are also talking about a document written hundreds of years ago for a different time. The constitution can and has been amended when it is deemed no longer necessary or right. If it couldn’t, slavery would still be constitutionally protected in your country. The second amendment was written at a time when your country did not have a standing peacetime army and relied on militia forces to protect itself. It was a time when revolutionary war was a very real and very near threat. That hardly applies today.

    • Psych Student

      If I recall correctly, Australian gun control laws changed promptly after a mass shooting. People were killed, and laws were changed. It’s a concept.

    • Gangle

      Yes, although our gun control laws were already stricter than most of the us (eg, handguns were never legal to carry on your person etc) our gun control laws got an awful lot tighter after a terrible mass shooting. That was nearly 18 years ago. Number of mass shootings since then? One, and not anywhere near being on the same scale as what happened at Port Arthur. Gun control works. It isn’t just a ‘concept’.

    • Me-Me

      Amazing post! I couldn’t have said it better. Too bad there aren’t more people like you and I. There wouldn’t be so much hysteria and more people would be more knowledgeable. Any time I read about another gun incident, I cringe because the first thing people do is start saying gun laws! No one should carry guns! Guns are bad! The people in those cases weren’t carrying legally and had NO business around them. It makes it harder for us and blows any progress we have made in educating the public on gun safety. I fear for this country should the government force the issue of disarming its citizens. The WRONG citizens anyways..

    • Psych Student

      Wow. I’m an American (who doesn’t have an interest in guns) and I didn’t know any of that. I certainly didn’t know that people had to keep up with target-shooting events in order to keep your gun. I’m not suggesting you’re wrong (like I said, don’t like guns, don’t have a clue about acquiring them). I do know that there are areas in the US where they want to eliminate background checks and are perfectly content to sell guns to mentally ill people. I do feel fairly certain that some people find a way to easily sell guns to whomever they want within the law. I also think there are places that either have or are trying to do away with a mandatory waiting period for guns. I might feel much better about handgun ownership if I thought the police were keeping an eye on who has handguns and why they own them.

    • Gangle

      I know someone who is passionate about target-shooting as a sport. And in Australia, the only legal reason to own a handgun is for sport – so if you aren’t intending on participating in legal practice and competitions, then why do you need to continue owning a handgun? I think it possibly annoys some handgun owners, but I don’t think it is unreasonable. The concept of being able to just buy dangerous weapons is unsettling to me.

    • Me-Me

      I agree with background checks, as I am not a criminal, I have no problem getting them when I buy a firearm, nor do most non criminals. There are people that should absolutely NOT be allowed around a firearm. But what gets me is why is everyone so concerned about the people who have the license, have passed all security issues and are legally allowed to carry. I am more concerned about the people who HAVENT that carry than I am about legal, law abiding, conceal carry permit holders. We are the ones who SHOULD have them. Why are you so worried about us and what we are doing and where we are? We’re not criminals. We have so many laws when it comes to carrying legally in public. There is so much to know. Wouldn’t you rather have those people who know all this armed instead of the criminals who use firearms for intimidation? I sure do! I advocate and so do my other conceal carry friends for strict laws on buying guns. I don’t want some gangbanger to slip through, get a gun and go kill someone. I have no problems with having strict laws when it comes to purchasing firearms and carrying in public and neither do other legal carriers. I don’t like the anti gun laws. They are misguided. Strict to buy and carry, absolutely. It is necessary. But please don’t tell me what I can and cant buy, how big my clip can be. I am the legal carrier. I know all I need to know and if I don’t, I find out. Police need to focus on criminal carriers not legal carriers.

    • Paul White

      I own multiple because they’re fun to shoot at the range, and they’re damn neat examples of mechanical engineering.

    • Psych Student

      Very well put!

    • Me-Me

      Ok I can answer this. It’s NOT just because its our right. I carry because I don’t feel like becoming a victim of one of the crazies who carry with intent to use it to harm, rob, rape, beat, or otherwise threaten me or mine. I live in small town, I don’t carry around my town, but when we go to Milwaukee or other unsavory places, you can bet I am locked and loaded. I will and am fully capable of defending myself or others who may need a legal carrying trained gun owner to save their life. If more people carried, legally, then I feel there would be less crime cuz the criminals may not know the person they are robbing and all the above, they might just stop and think hmm maybe this white girl is strapped. It could save lives if the criminals stopped to wonder if this person is carrying.

    • Me-Me

      Ok had to switch to the laptop. To continue this, for many, guns are a passion. A deep passion. Think of something you are passionate about and see that others, even if you don’t see the appeal of it, are. There is so much history and you know what? They are damn fun too. It is an excellent stress reliever to go to the range and pop off a box of shells. Ok now about the killing a human thing. Those of us that carry, legally, and in public, take that responsibility to heart. We KNOW we can, anyone can, but those of us that are, of course not criminals and carry for protection not for using against an innocent person, are different. We know that anytime we walk out our door while carrying, that something could happen, that hopefully not, but a life could be taken, we understand and know and are willing to deal with our consciences and the full consequences. I have a high level of right and wrong and I like others would NEVER use a firearm as a threat to intimidate another person. That’s NOT why I/we carry. I am fully able to take the life of a person or persons attempting to harm me or mine or another innocent person. If its me or them, its going to be them. Weapons have nothing to do with God. At all. As the past can attest. I don’t use in Gods name, I carry in the name of protecting against people out to harm me or you. You can obviously choose to not carry, but I know if you were to ever need it, you would be happy that someone was, and they saved your life. Its true people get thrills from holding one, the power of it, the possibilities with it. But me, personally no matter my experience, I am always a little over cautious until I get comfortable. These are not toys. They are dangerous and deadly and should be treated as such.

    • Me-Me

      You mean “accidents” like this one? A known thug “accidently” kicks down your door to do God knows what, and you rightly defend yourself? This right here is WHY we have the need to carry. To protect our lives and our homes and anything else that doesn’t belong to someone that they think they should have, by any means necessary. Your life means nothing to people like this! You “accidently’ break into my home, attempt to rob me or mine or hurt me, mine, or an innocent, well guess what? This loaded gun isn’t going to “Accidently” go off, its going right in your ass! Or depending on how dire the situation is, kill shot. I am and will get you before you get to whats precious to me.. And that, is why we need to carry and should be able to.

      http://bearingarms.com/teen-gunned-down-after-he-accidentally-kicked-in-door-attacked-homeowner/

    • brebay

      No, honey, I was talking about actual accident done my someone who lives in the home. I know home invasions happen, they just happen less often than accidental shootings by a family member. We’re talking two different things here. I know you have the right to carry, that was never a point I made, this discussion was about gun culture in America, not gun laws. You can and should kill someone who forcibly enters your home to harm you. I never said you don’t or shouldn’t. Best of luck.

    • Me-Me

      They happen–too often. Accidents with guns. I cant and no one else should it it could never happen, because Yes it can. I do all in my power to prevent it tho. That comes with the responsibility of gun ownership. Some people tho are just plain stupid. The only reason guns look bad, is because bad people make them bad.

    • Surfaces

      Scottish here, and I’m exactly the same. After the Dunblane massacre, the government said “Ok, lets have less of the guns folks, not keen on kids getting shot up, y’know?” and that’s what happened. Yes, there’s still gun crime in the UK, but not on a daily basis. To me “because I can” just isn’t good enough. Neither is self-defense, although I do understand the theory that in a country with so many guns in the hands of criminals, it’s not as easy to defend yourself without a gun when your attacker has a gun.

    • ChillMama

      Would you still apply the not going to someone’s house to someone who owned a hunting rifle, which was stored (unloaded) in a safe, and who never kept ammo in the house (or on the property at all)?

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I lived in a house like that growing up. My dad kept his hunting rifle in our house when I was of an age it was still longer than me. My mom made him take it away at some point.
      I’d need a tour of these safety precautions to verify these provisions were in place with my own eyes. But after that, I could relax some. But also, hunting rifles are more rural Canada, and less urban Canada, so seeing as I live in urban Canada, this is less likely to even come up. Thankfully.

    • ChillMama

      I’m in (urban) Canada too, and my husband has a hunting license. That’s why I ask. I don’t want to be scaring away future play dates and mom friends! :)

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I think if you made a point of telling the parents about the precautions and showing them you’ll be fine. Any hint of defensiveness would suggest a red flag, whereas openness and understanding would suggest a responsible parent and rifle owner you can trust.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Also Canadian, and yeah, the same. Obviously there are people with guns here – we do have gun crime, though of course it’s mostly (illegal) guns coming up from the US – but it’s just not a thing. American gun culture makes absolutely no sense to me. I always feel a little uneasy when travelling in the states for that reason.

    • Me-Me

      Maybe the people in your country were raised right, with respect and the love of a good life, to earn thru hard work what you want, be kind to others, don’t go out looking to hurt, kill, rob, maim, rape innocent people. Unlike the good ol USA where we have to constantly defend our person, our property and damn the right to live. We have criminals pouring over the boarder, we have home grown criminal who were born to bring as much pain to others before someone sick of it, puts them out of their misery and makes the roads and our children that much safer.

  • CMP414

    My sister keeps loaded guns in her couch cushions as well as other various places in the home and wonders why she will NEVER watch my daughter at her place. She tells me I’m too uptight and nothing will happen. Personally, I find it insane- but that’s just me

    • Me-Me

      Ok now that, is a perfect example of a STUPID gun owner, kids or not. A person who has no respect for the firearm has no business with one. Its those people who insist ‘nothing will happen’ that shit happens to. Now those of us responsible gun owners admit that anything can happen at any time to anyone. Our job is to do any and all we can to prevent such things occurring but we know the consequences legally and morally if anything were to happen and take FULL responsibility for any and all occurrences, legal or not legal, accident or intent. That is the difference between someone like your sister and someone like me..

    • CMP414

      Worst part is not long after I posted this her home was broken into while they were there and the robber stole a gun and later sold it to a local drug dealer. he is now awaiting trial. i thought this would be a turning point for them to learn responsibility but of course it was not.

    • Me-Me

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. if they don’t learn the fist time, then they deserve the consequences.

  • Alexandra

    Yes, Maria, agree the only safe gun in a house with kids (or really any house) is “in a safe”. Ours opens with a swipe of a fingerprint (biometric) for quick access. But that’s the only way to have guns in a house with children. If people don’t want their kids coming over to our house, that’s just fine by me – my furniture will stay nicer longer – playdate can be at their house!! :)

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  • Me-Me

    No, not EVERYONE knows or does safely store, handle, clean, use or all that. But the majority of us do. Most of us, who can legally carry are required to pass safety courses first. And most of us are either military trained, been hunting and handling firearms most our lives. We have a healthly respect for firearms. Accidents happen to everyone with anything. Now I am ex military. I know how to handle firearms. My hubs has been hunting for over 25 years. When after we went through the conceal carry class, even me because there’s so much to know when you’re carrying as a civilian. And I wanted to brush up. You can never be too safe handling the power of a weapon. Now when we brought our .40&.45 hand guns home, our daughter is 8, we made sure we went over the gun safety and rules. Answered her natural questions, let her touch it. She truly has no interest in it. We keep them loaded, but with a trigger lock, the safety on, and we have it where you put a block in the chamber. Would suck if we needed it in a hurry, but that’s being a RESPONSIBLE gun owner. I am confident in my daughter leaving it alone. She watches while we clean, goes to the range with us. This also preps her for her future gun safety. There are a whole lot of fucking idiots out there that have NO business touching any firearm, but please don’t make the rest of us trained and legally allowed to carry loaded in public out to be gun nutballs. I was one, ONE shot from making expert with an assault rifle. Why wouldn’t or shouldn’t you trust me? I know how to keep my kids and family safe from not only my gun but other threats. My mom is so anti gun but she trusts us, including my dad to be safe, responsible, and to make sure the kids don’t , won’t touch the guns. I’d prefer her learn early to respect all weapons, the right appropriate and safe way to handle them. If you don’t have the experience to know what its about, how can you judge?