I have been anti-gun most of my life. I remember in junior high speech class giving a persuasive speech on the “evils” of gun: “Guns are tools designed to kill, they are not multi-tools like a knife.” Because I live with three boys and a gun loving husband, my views have not always been well received. My children have never been allowed to play with realistic looking guns; however, compromises have been made over the years with Nerf guns and water guns. Through it all we have remained a gun-free family for over 15 years. My husband, a former gun dealer, married me knowing I would never allow guns in our home (Yup, I know, I’m a lucky girl and he’s an amazing man).
When I became a mother I think a bit of my idealism weaned – after all a mother will do anything to protect her child even if it means killing someone, but my anti-gun attitude remained. How would I keep my children safe with guns in the house? The risk seemed too great to me, why would I have this “tool of death” in my home by choice when I was too busy trying to keep my children from walking into the street, or putting their fingers in electrical outlets, or keeping them safe in cars. It seemed like asking for trouble from a tool that I was unfamiliar with, uncomfortable with idealistically, and a bit scared of. Every time I’ve had to explain violence on TV or in movies to my boys it reinforced my belief that I had made the right decisions.
I did not have an epiphany; I wish it could have been that simple, it’s been more of a journey. Nothing helps define your own values like teaching values to your children. Sometimes you think you know what you believe, you think it’s clear, but when you explain to your child it’s got to make sense and have staying power. You have to believe, define and backup what you are teaching your children. The next step in the journey is realizing that my boys are growing into young men, and like all parents I’ve started looking at their future and not just my own. While no can predict the future, in recent years there has been a lot of evidence to suggest that our children may encounter hardships that we have not had to deal with. If I’m responsible for educating my children, how can I, in good conscience, deny them the knowledge and experience that could save their lives one day? It may be something as simple as gun safety that saves their lives, or they may be faced with defending themselves or someone they love. If they are educated and know the power of a gun, know how to handle a gun, and know gun safety, then I’ve given them a skill to use a powerful weapon.