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Guns in Homes With Kids

Do You Ask If There Are Guns in Your Kids' Friends' Homes?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this about kids playing in homes with guns.

My five year old is now at the glorious age of the drop off playdate. I can now drop him off at a friend’s house, not stay and not look back for several blissful hours. This comes with a new set of worries.

The question never occurred to me before I watched one of those prime time news specials: “Do you ask your children’s playdates if they have guns in the home?”

Related: Parents' make a heartbreaking tribute to their son

We live in an area of the country where many take pride in their gun ownership and many people own and use guns for reasons ranging from personal protection to hunting. One town over, there’s a legal ordinance that heads of household are ”required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.”

A few houses down on my street a neighbor has a sign outside her home that reads, “This home is protected by the 2nd Amendment”. That neighbor doesn’t have any children at home. But what about our other neighbor who has a child in my son’s classroom?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully in support of anyone exercising their Second Amendment rights. However, with rights come responsibilities. My true concern isn’t whether or not my neighbors have guns, but if they are locked away and stored safely especially when children are present.

Children, mine especially, are naturally curious. My daughter has a knack for finding the dirtiest and most dangerous item in any room. It’s nice to assume that all parents who own guns are responsible and take the necessary safety precautions, but I’ve found that isn’t always the case. Some people feel safer with their guns loaded and in places where they can get to them quickly, like a drawer or a closet. The number of times my daughter has come to me and handed me embarrassing items she found in my dresser is enough to convince me that storing anything dangerous there is a bad idea.

I recently found out that a friend’s husband keeps a loaded weapon in his briefcase. It doesn’t get locked up when he comes home. His home office is in an open part of the house where our children have played together.

The morning after the news special about guns, I asked my 5-year-old what he would do if he was playing at a friend’s house and found a gun. He had no clue. I explained to him that if he sees a gun, don’t touch it, don’t play with it, and immediately tell an adult. I asked him again a week later and he doesn’t remember.

From now on, I’ll be asking parents about the status of their guns before playdates.

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SharonLetchford SharonLetchford 1 year
Dan, seriously: whether any females have had an abortion???
SharonLetchford SharonLetchford 1 year
Unbelievable! You wouldn't even need to think about it in Australia.
Dan15406987 Dan15406987 1 year
I would check out more than just guns. I want to know their race, religion, national origin and sex. I want to know everything about their exercise of fundamental rights including whether any females in the house ever had an abortion or any contagious diseases. I need to know all these things and more before I let my kid go into their home. We always do a full national background check. Statewide has proven to be insufficient.
MirandaHyatt MirandaHyatt 1 year
A couple things 1. Teach your kid to respect the belongings of others. Too few children are taught proper respect. You shouldn't have to worry about your child finding a gun at a friends house if you have taught them to respect other's property and not go where they shouldn't go. If you can't be sure about their behavior, then they shouldn't be staying at a friend's house yet. Yes, kids are curious, they like to get into things, but they can and should be taught and expected to be respectful. Teach respect for personal property, yours and others. 2. Teach them gun respect and gun safety. Don't expect your kid's friends' parents to teach your child respect of a gun. 3. Talk to the parents of your kids' friends. Make sure their level of respect for guns matches or exceeds your own. 4. Guns are not the only safety concern and more kids are in danger from other things than guns.
Randall15406559 Randall15406559 1 year
Your efforts to subjugate decent gun owners are failing, as miserably as your government-parenting agenda; teach you children to leave what's not theirs alone: mostly, other people's buisiness !!! IDIOTS !!!
SallyBackhaus SallyBackhaus 1 year
My kids have been learning gun safety since birth. My oldest is finally large enough to safely hold one on her own so she gets to actually learn shooting this summer. (I think I'm more excited about it than she is, but since she's really into explosions right now, I have hope.) Kids who know what guns are and how they work are far less likely to use them innappropriately than their "protected" peers. If you are unwilling or unable to teach your child proper behavior around someone else's firearm, you could teach them something far more useful--"Don't go messing around in other people's stuff!" It's really hard to find your friend's parent's private stuff, if you aren't a nosy little snoop playing with stuff you shouldn't touch. I don't have to ask whether a child's friends parents have guns in the house (or how those guns are handled) because in most cases, I already knew before I had kids and if I don't trust them to keep my kid safe, I wouldn't leave my kids with them anyway. If any of my children's friends asked if I had guns in the house, I'd say "Of course. Don't you?". Although if you come in the front door, the shotgun on top of the bookshelf isn't much above the average adult eye level so the answer should be pretty obvious before they ask.
TarynVerleye TarynVerleye 1 year
I do not ask when my children go to other homes. My children have not only been through the Eddie Eagle training, they have been taught how to use each weapon in our own home. We've even gone to the extent of using a watermelon for them to shoot so that they can see the damage that is done by a single bullet. There is no curiosity for them when it comes to guns. They know how to use them, clean them, and respect their power. However, whenever any children are coming to my house, I make sure to let the parents know that we have firearms. Funny, not one person has asked me where they are and if they are locked up.
MichelleFlores49842 MichelleFlores49842 1 year
I am teaching my children gun safety, have been since my oldest was about 18 months. He is 3 and each and every time we ask "what do you do if you see a gun" his response is "tell mommy and daddy" with no prompting or anything. We have multiple guns in our home and are always kept locked away from our children, however each time we take a gun out to prep for a shooting trip or just to clean we go through the safety with our kids as well as let them see the guns so that they are not so curious to just go and pick it up. It is all about teaching your children and letting them be aware. It also takes the parents responsibility to ensure their child's safety. Children are naturally curious, you cannot trust them to always obey what you say no matter how many times it is instilled in them, even no matter the age. Better to be overly cautious than have an accident occur. My parents have my 13 year old brother at home who has had firearm training and they still Lock each and every firearm so my brother has no access whether my parents are home or not. Rather be safe than sorry!
Mz-Rat Mz-Rat 1 year
While there were no guns in the house when my son was little, by the time the grandkids came along, there were guns in the house. Several of them. One of the first movies the grandkids watched was NRA's Eddie Eagle. This movie was also watched every time their friends came over. While we do not leave the guns out, kids are nosy and get in places they know not too. As for taking their friends to our range and letting them shoot, we always asked the parents first. Gun safety was always stressed, even with water pistols and air soft guns. Children should be educated to the useful ways guns can be used as well as shown how much harm the guns can do.
KristaMoore38445 KristaMoore38445 1 year
I can relate to this. I allowed my son to stay over at his friends house and I found out after the fact that he had gone out shooting with the friend and his friends dad. I was very upset about this, mainly because the dad should have called us first to verify if we were okay with this.
Jen15403989 Jen15403989 1 year
I see no harm in asking - I think it's your right as a parent to know. If the answer is yes, I see no harm in asking how they ensure the children do not have access to it. I would also, however; ensure my child knows what they are to do should they ever find/see a gun at a friends home. I would like to also stress that it's even more important to talk about swimming pools and ensure your child knows how to swim, and what kind of supervision is in place at homes with pools. Interesting fact: a swimming pool is 100 times more likely to kill a young child than a gun! Why do parents seem to not feel as threatened by a house with a swimming pool? Is it that we are under-informed about deaths by drowning, or simply horrible at assessing risk?
EllenRoberts65123 EllenRoberts65123 1 year
Also your 5 year old needs to be better educated.
EllenRoberts65123 EllenRoberts65123 1 year
So what if there is a gun as long as it is locked up and treated with respect I see no problem.
Megan21400 Megan21400 1 year
I own a gun and also a sign in the window as well. I have a gun safe and I NEVER leave my gun just laying around for my daughter or her friends to pick up. Her mothers friends or fathers are more than welcome to ask about my status about my gun. I don't see how this would offend them. I would question them too.
missnanny missnanny 1 year
I don't think there is anything wrong with asking. If they get offended at the question, I would ask myself if my child really needs to be there. In the past year, there have been too many instances of children being shot because they found a loaded gun in the house.
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