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?"
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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