In 1986, my brother, Jeffrey Carson, was shot and killed by an emotionally unstable classmate in a “safe”, suburban neighborhood while playing at this individual’s house. At the time, we trusted that our kids could just “play” at someone’s house for a couple of hours and all would be fine.
Fast forward 24 years to 2010. My husband and I have 4 beautiful daughters. In kindergarten, my eldest daughter started school and went to her first “mom-drops-you-off” play date. Weeks after her visit to the friend’s house, it randomly became known to me that there was an accessible gun in the home. I was sick to my stomach that I allowed this to happen. I never asked about it. I truly know better.
I wanted to just go to the neighbors and tell them how upset I was, but there was more to it. I had accessible guns in my own home, despite that fact that I knew they were trigger locked and unloaded where my own children could never access them. I had to question my husband. I didn’t even know what we had. I, as many other moms across the country, avoid them and honestly, don’t know much about them. I had to stop pretending this wasn’t an issue at home. The fact that I have daughters was no longer sufficient justification to avoid the issue. This up close and personal reality sparked a new cause for awareness. Why was gun accessibility and safety for my own family so hard to talk about after all I have experienced? And if I have this hard of a time, what about all of you who haven’t directly and tragically been impacted by kids killing kids? There had to be an easier way to approach this topic in conversation.
This is a very difficult topic for parents, especially mothers who arrange most play dates, to discuss with each other. We worry about offending people. We want others to think we trust them and assume they share our values relating to home safety. We often let our husbands and the men in our lives be exclusively responsible for the way firearms are stored in the home. We don’t think tragedy could strike in our neighborhoods as a result of what we store in our homes. Unfortunately, thinking this way puts our own kids at risk of injury and death.
As a nation, we have been plagued by tragedy surrounding the wrongful use of firearms by young people. And so many times after these tragedies the questions remain: Where are the parents? How did they allow or enable this to happen? Gun Safe Mom wants parents to be part of the solution, not the problems. I hope you will join the movement to profess, as a gun enthusiast or opponent, that we, as parents, are not going to allow our kids, no matter their age, to have independent access to firearms in the home by displaying a Gun Safe Mom image. Let’s be united in this aspect of gun conversation. We can engage in conversations about gun accessibility in our homes and respect each other for doing so. If we are going to see change, we have to actively be part of that change on a very personal level. Let’s start at home with our everyday conversations.
Be clear. Be bold. Be brave.
Be a Gun Safe Mom.*
*(Don’t worry, Dads. We are working on something for you, too.)