Oddly enough, after being together for 15 years, and knowing each other since we were teens, my almost ex wife asked me, what my concerns with a concealed weapon were. Here I thought we knew each other… I’ve put together a short, what may be called manifesto of my concerns.
Concerns with Concealed Weapons Around My Children
Since very early in the relationship between my wife and I, she has expressed a distaste for weapons around the children. Toy guns were not something that were purchased in our house, even down to colored plastic water pistols in the summertime. While I didn’t, at the time, share the concern about toy guns, and how they could influence a child’s upbringing, I accepted this request, and our home, with my wife and her children, was weapon free. She also had a very strong aversion to games, video games, television, or movies that portrayed any type of violence. I also accepted this concern toward her children’s upbringing. Since I have never been a gun advocate, these ideals were not far from my own. She also expressed concern and frustration at the children’s father, who would bring her 9 or 10 year old son to paintball fields, to watch the games, even though he was not permitted to play with his father and older brother. My understanding was that she wasn’t comfortable with the violent nature of paintball, the potential for injury, and the use of guns in general.
As our children were born, this policy in our household continued, and our children have not had toy guns in the house, with the exception of a wooden rubberband gun, that only vaguely resembles an actual weapon. We have taught the kids that some things that can be considered weapons, can also be considered tools, and we have both supported the Waldorf School practice of teaching woodworking using pocket knives, which were brought to school, and used for their intended purpose only. Also, one of the older children was involved in archery, and was taught, at a range, bow safety, how to shoot, and when and where it was appropriate to use his bow and arrows. They were never used in or around the house, and carrying his bow in a manner where it could be used outside of the range or the forest was strictly forbidden.
Guns and Raising Children
As as parent, I feel that I need to protect my children, as well as provide them with strong values. We have always tried to instill in the children that violence in any form does not have a value. Guns can be tools, used for target practice at a range, or on the forest, when proper safety procedures are followed. If the occasion to own a gun to take to range ever came up, I would insist that the weapon was either stored at the range, or that no ammunition ever be kept in the house.
Specific Concerns with Concealed Weapons
I have two primary concerns with concealed weapons around my children, or any children.
1. If they are aware that someone they admire or look up to, and are in close contact with is constantly carries a weapon, this gives them the sense that carrying a concealed weapon is a normal, safe and recommended thing to do. That is, and has always been against my personal and our family beliefs.
In addition, there is a fascination with the weapon, and the fact that it’s being carried at all times with my 7 year old, that I do not believe provides any value to him, and could potentially present a safety issue in certain situations.
In our society, especially in the city where we have selected to raise our children, history has shown there is no need to carry a weapon for safety purposes. If there were any need to carry a weapon for safety, I would do my best to move my children away from the area.
2. If a weapon is present, regardless of the restraint of the weapon owner, there is a potential for that weapon to be taken out of concealment. I do not believe there is ever a good situation to have a handgun brought out in public. If an altercation were to occur, where the weapon was brought out, and the children were present, they would be witness to at the very least, a life threatening situation by someone that they care for and admire. At worst they could witness a shooting of either a stranger shot by someone they care for, or the person they care for being injured or killed by someone else.
Additionally, since the 7 year old is aware of the weapon, he may, if presented with a stressful, or fearful situation, verbally reference the weapon, which could dramatically change the tone and outcome of what could have been a benign altercation. These scenarios seem to me to be totally unnecessary, and easily avoided by simply not carrying the weapon around the children. If an altercation were to occur, and the weapon was not present, there would be no chance of the altercation escalating. If simply leaving the weapon at home when around the children could prevent a potentially damaging situation, and it is generally agreed that the weapon isn’t a necessity, it seems the prudent and logical thing, to leave the weapon when around the children.
I find this similar to the use of seat belts in the car. No one ever expects to be an auto accident, everyone is a good driver when their children are around, however, the precaution taken to ensure that all passengers and the driver are safely buckled precludes the legal requirement for this safety precaution, and provides the children with a solid foundation for safety in automobiles.
Secondarily, while I understand the constitutional right of every American to, when following the local laws, and holding the proper permits, carry a concealed weapon, I feel that a handgun outside of a firing range has 1 purpose which is to shoot people. I personally find that a very uncomfortable use, and I would prefer that my children are not exposed at a young age to the concept of anyone carrying a tool whose primary purpose is to shoot people.
Gun Safety in General
My sister is a police officer. I have had long conversations with the children about her job, and the fact that she carries a gun with her. My 7 year old has asked me if she shoots people, and if she could shoot someone for speeding, or for various other minor infractions. We have talked at length why she would ever need to shoot someone, and the rare instances that she would fire her weapon or even remove it from her holster. We’ve also discussed that she doesn’t try to kill people unless that is her only option, and that she’s had lots of training on how to user her gun, when to user her gun, and more importantly when not to use her gun. I would not allow my sister to carry a weapon around the children, unless she was in uniform and performing her duties as a police officer.
I do not, in general, object to the children learning gun safety, firing weapons at a firing range, or using an appropriate firearm in a safe outdoor activity. I have strong personal feelings against hunting, and would prefer the children are not exposed to hunting in any way that would make them feel as if they were required or expected to shoot an animal that was not directly threatening them.
When they are older, and their choices are their own, rather than those of the parent figures around them, they are welcome to make their own choices to use weapons, carry concealed weapons, hunt, etc. At 7 and 12 years old, with the upbringing they have had in both the home and the Waldorf school of a non-violent, weapon free environment, I feel that it’s not an unreasonable or extreme request to ask those who are going to be around the children on a regular basis, and who they look up to, and take examples from, to carry their weapon everywhere they go, except around the children. I am certain that the safety of everyone can be maintained throughout the area, without a handgun.
We have managed to maintain the safety of our family in the various places we’ve lived and visited, without incident, without carrying a weapon of any kind, and just being aware of our surroundings.
Responses to Potential Questions
Q. The person carrying the gun is a very responsible person, and has never used the gun or taken it out in public.
A. That’s good. However, it doesn’t seem necessary to risk a situation that could cause the children short term or long term emotional issues. If the gun is never going to come out, why is it necessary to have with you? Also, if this person was a very safe driver, and had never had an accident, would it be reasonable to say the kids don’t need to wear their seat belts on a private road, where it wasn’t legally required?
Q. It’s a legal weapon and there’s a legal permit, why is this an issue?
A. There are many things that are legal to do around children, that are not part of a particular family’s acceptable situations. In my opinion, there is a history in our family of not having weapons generally accessible to any member of the family.
Q. Did you know it’s constitutional right to carry a weapon in America, and you can’t tell someone they can’t have their weapon.
A. Yes, I know, and I’m not suggesting the weapon is disposed of, just left safely locked in it’s case while in the presence of the children.
Q. Guns are a part of life, and the kids mom used to use them on the farm, and shoot targets and was comfortable using weapons?
A. Yes, I was aware of that, and I agree, a gun as a tool is no a problem. In what way is a concealed handgun in public a tool? What is the purpose or function of a concealed handgun? If it never comes out, why is it necessary to carry?
Q: Are you afraid your kids are going to get shot?
A: That’s actually one of the least of my concerns. My concern is that they’ll witness something that I think is unnecessary, and if one of the kids happens to say something in a situation that escalates, or they even believe escalated the situation, so that the weapon appeared in public, they could carry that with them for a long time. If the highly unlikely situation occurred where someone was shot, accidentally or intentionally, that is something they will have difficulty with for the rest of their lives. My basic premise is that the risk is unnecessary.
The Canadian Government requests, (to put it mildly) that you leave your gun at home when visiting the friendly people of Canada. If it’s possible to visit an entire country without bringing a gun, shouldn’t it be possible to visit children you care for, and their mother who you also care for without bringing a gun? It doesn’t seem to be a unreasonable request when crossing the boarder, it shouldn’t be when joining a family for an outing, or weekend.
On a More Personal Note
For 15 years I was asked not to use household chemicals, from bug sprays to weed killers, solvents to oven cleaner, because there was a remote chance that it could effect the children or the environment. I was asked to essentially reject mainstream medicine, because there was a remote chance of medications having an adverse affect on the children either in the short term, or sometime in their future. I was asked to avoid feeding the children a variety of legal and accepted foods, including corn syrup, food coloring, wheat, dairy products, refined sugars, oats, peanuts and peanut butter, and a litany of other foods, all readily available at the supermarket, because there was potential threat to the children. I went along with these, sometimes agreeing, sometimes not agreeing, but went along, because they were important to the kids mother.
There have been very few things I felt very strongly about regarding the kids safety that were not addressed by their mother. Weapons were always an issue I never worried about, because we were in agreement that they weren’t necessary in the household. A concealed weapon around my children is very important to me, and in my opinion, presents more a potential risk than food coloring, corn syrup, and weed killers combined. I feel that carrying a concealed weapon is as unnecessary in our society as weed killers and oven cleaners, if not more so. Considering the wide range of potential risks we’ve spent years avoiding, researching, and teaching the kids about, it is my belief that this simple, and reasonable request, could be honored without incident.