There's Nothing Wrong With Asking If There's A Gun In A Home Before A Play Date

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
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I moved from Brooklyn, New York to Florida two years ago. The move combined with the working from home put quite a damper on my social life. It’s not the easiest thing to meet other like-minded friends when you are totally new to a place and you don’t leave your home for work.

A few months after my move, I finally met someone I clicked with. She was a bartender at a local wine bar — a place I would escape to once every few weeks to try to have some adult conversation. She had a daughter the same age as mine — almost 2-years-old. On several occasions I intended to make plans for a play date, but inevitably our conversation would shift. The plans were never made.

Last year was a terrible year for gun accidents. It seemed like every week there was a new tragic misfire. There was a story of a toddler shooting his own mother with a gun he found under the couch while she was changing her infant’s diaper. There was another story of a child who reached into his mother’s purse at a Walmart and accidentally shot her dead with the gun he found. It was after one of these many incidents that talk among the few people who were congregated at the wine bar one evening shifted to gun ownership. All five of the other patrons at the bar owned a gun. I was the only one who didn’t.

After we all revealed the details of the guns we did or did not own, the focus shifted to my bartender friend. I thought for sure she would say she didn’t own a gun. I guess my brain just automatically defaults to that after years of living in a city where gun ownership isn’t as common.

She said, “Oh yeah. We have a loaded shotgun by our bed. My husband travels for work and is really worried about us being safe when he’s gone.”

A loaded shotgun by the bed? With a two-year-old in the house?

I realized that day, you simply can’t tell who a negligent gun owner is without asking the necessary questions.

Yes, there are responsible gun owners. They keep their firearms locked away, teach their kids about the dangers of guns, and treat owning a gun like the grave responsibility that it is. Then there are those who simply do not. The latter are not bad people. But their houses may not be safe environments for children.

There’s nothing wrong with asking about whether or not someone owns a gun before a play date. An article in The Washington Post, written by a mother who routinely asks parents if they keep guns in the home before she allows her child to play there, got the usual onslaught of comments defending Second Amendment rights and pointing out how much more common automobile accidents or drownings are. Some called her irresponsible for not being equipped to defend her family in the case of a break-in or other violent encounter.

Parents are allowed to be concerned for their child’s safety and ask the necessary questions. If you feel like someone asking whether you have a gun in the home is a violation of your privacy — then that relationship doesn’t have to be fostered. It’s that simple.

Forty percent of gun owners with children in the home don’t store their guns in a locked safe. A 20/20 special investigative report on gun ownership of parents showed time and time again that parents put way too much faith in their kids’ ability to exercise control and curb their curiosity around weapons. Nearly 1,500 children will die from accidental shootings each year — a number we cannot get quite right because there are no records kept by any government bureau regarding gun safety and children. Thanks a lot, NRA.

With statistics like that, parents have a right to be scared. And if you feel like it’s an invasion of privacy for a parent to ask you about any weapons you may own – then that is your right, too. The play date can take place elsewhere. Although I probably wouldn’t be planning one anytime soon with a parent who refused to be transparent about an issue that’s so important.

What about you?

{Scary Mommies: It’s up to us. Together, WE CAN DO THIS. Please join us in taking a stand against gun violence and fighting for a safer country for our children. Learn ways to make a difference at}

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