Take inventory of what firearms, if any, your family possesses.
- If a dual parent household, find a quiet time with your husband or partner, away from the children, to calmly and factually discuss the presence and storage of firearms in your household. Both parents should be aware of what firearms they own and completely understand and be united in the responsibility of safely storing them. Consider a seasonal schedule (i.e., daylight savings time or just after hunting season ends) to revisit your family’s firearms storage system and policy regarding gun accessibility and your children.
Decide upon your own values with regard to your kids and gun access in other homes. What do you consider a safe home with regard to gun access?
- Decide upon your consistent answer to this question regardless of whose home it is. Is it only a home with no guns? Only those homes with guns that are locked? Do the guns have to be in a gun safe or is a trigger lock sufficient? Do not change your rules for certain homes or situations where kids play together without direct adult interaction and supervision. By having a policy, you are taking the emotion and personal judgement out of the equation if you need to make a decision against a particular play date situation.
- For a pdf to help guide you in creating your personal family firearms policy click here: Creating Your Family Firearms Policy
- Do the best you can to have an open, friendly, caring, and respectful approach.
- Your goal is not to start a political debate, philosophical conflict, or disagreement with another person’s value system regarding their personal space. You have a simple query: Does the home my child is about to play in have guns? And if so, how are they stored?
Know how to contact the families of the kids with whom your children like to play.
- Try to access as much information of the children’s friends’ families to communicate in as many formats as possible (phone, email, text message, Facebook, Linked In, and the like.
Understand your neighborhood and community and assume NOTHING.
- You may know you live in an area where sportsman and women frequent. You may think that you live in a safe suburban community where gun violence is minimal except for the occasional “accident”. You may think that your values and safety standards translate in the attitudes of those families with whom your child socializes. PLEASE ASSUME NOTHING. Gun accessibility is a topic most of us have not discussed with our closest friends. No matter your race, religion, geographic location, or ethnicity, gun ownership crosses all lines. Your child’s safety can depend on your willingness to address gun accessibility in the places your child plays.
Have your child attend only pre-planned play dates.
- Do not send your child to an unfamiliar home where you have never met or spoken to or communicated with the parents in any way. This act may seem unnecessarily stated, but can happen easily in certain contexts.
- Especially in neighborhoods where many families live close together and kids can congregate just by stepping outside. In such situations, consider having this conversation with neighborhood families as soon as you can. Neighborhood associations could be a good forum for this discussion to take place.
Contact a parent of the child with whom the play date is scheduled BEFORE the play date to engage in a PRIVATE conversation about gun accessibility in their home.
- Don’t show up at their door with your child ready to play and then confront the parent with this potentially sensitive conversation topic.
- This conversation may take place days or hours before the scheduled play date. Note that I did not say minutes. By that time, your child is fully expecting to play at this house. You will not only infuriate your child and likely create upset feelings with the other family, but you are not giving yourself time to make an informed decision with a graceful, respectful response.
- When beginning the conversation, Gun Safe Mom recommends connecting about other topics and really establishing a genuine conversation before jumping in and asking the big question about the presence of guns in a household.? This will help keep the tone positive and you will have another topic of conversation to revert to if needed.
Do not have this conversation in front of the kids.
- The kids in that home may not know there are guns. For whatever reason, and there can be some good ones, the parents may not feel it is fitting information for their children to have. It is not your duty to spark this conversation and cause parents to divulge information they do not wish their child to have.
- Your kids don’t need to know if there are guns in the home. By asking this question of families in front of your own children, you will directly or indirectly pique your own child’s curiosity and like it or not, if your child knows there is a gun in a home, chances are he or she is going to look for it to some extent.
Give yourself time to make a sound decision with regard to this issue, plan your response, and respond respectfully.
Respond with gratitude.
- You may find out that you agree or disagree with a particular person or family regarding gun accessibility issues in your homes. Gun Safe Mom encourages families to respond with gratitude after having the opportunity to engage in the gun accessibility conversation, especially if there are differences in opinion. We hope that all parents will appreciate the courage it takes to address this issue and encourage each other to take this step in providing the safest environment for children with respect to individual family values.