This letter to the editor ran in an op-ed feature of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sep 7, 2019
Do you keep guns in your house?
Your kids are going to meet new kids as the new school year gets underway. They’ll want to go to one another’s homes to play, study and sleep over. You’ll be getting to know their parents, and their parents will be getting to know you.
So, are you ready for the parents —including my spouse and me, by the way — who are going to ask you whether you keep guns in your house? It can be a difficult conversation for everybody, but it doesn’t have to be.
We have easy, comfortable conversations about dozens of other safety topics:
“My daughter’s allergic to milk.” “Got it. Is fruit juice all right?”
“My son doesn’t swim yet. Do you have a pool?” “Yes, but I’ll lock the gate and make sure they play indoors only.”
“My kids can’t function without a full night of sleep.” “No problem. We turn off the lights at 9:30 p.m.”
But this conversation about guns is much tougher. How can we make the conversation easy on all of us, for our kids’ sake?
Here are two responses that won’t help:
“Yes, we have guns,” you say, “but our kids know their way around guns, so we’re not worried about accidents.” Unfortunately, our kids are curious, and they don’t know their way around guns. I’m worried about that.
Or you say, “Yes, but we hide them, so the kids don’t know where they are. And we keep the guns separate from the ammunition.” Well, too many kids know where the guns and ammo are, and a few hundred of them have an unintentional shooting with a gun every year.
On the other hand, we’ll be greatly relieved if you respond, “Yes, we have guns and we store them safely. Let me show you the gun safe where they’re locked up.”
So we’re going to keep asking that uncomfortable question, until it becomes as easy as talking about allergies. Because discomfort is a small price to pay to ensure our children’s safety.
Kasey Zahner, La Mesa
Photo credit: K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune