Every year, at least one hundred children are accidentally killed by guns and hundreds more injured. Most of these deaths and injuries occur when they find and play with an unsecured gun, shooting themselves or another child. These are senseless and easily avoided tragedies. Yet, American gun culture, being warped to the point of absurdity, clutches its pearls and finds the nearest fainting couch at the mere suggestion of asking gun owners if they practice gun safety.
This need to coddle gun owners has never been so apparent as today's "Dear Abby" column in which a mother asks if it's OK to inquire about gun safety at a play date's house:
DEAR ABBY: I am a first-time mom of a toddler. I suffer from (and am being treated for) anxiety issues.
Abby, I am having trouble finding the balance on gun safety and awareness in other people's homes -- especially if my daughter will be visiting. I grew up in a household where my father hunted and had guns in the house. However, he stored them safely in a locked cabinet and was the only one with access to the key. He also stored ammunition separately.
Where do I draw the line? Do I ask everyone whose house I'll be going to whether or not they have guns? What are the appropriate questions? Do I ask where they are stored and who has access? What else should I ask? Or should I mind my own business? I know the questions won't be appreciated by everyone because it will seem like I am questioning their judgment. -- FIRST-TIME MOM IN NEW JERSEY
Personally, I've never had to ask this kind of question because the only person I know who would have a gun in their house is a retired cop and I know for a fact that his guns are always locked away in a safe. But for millions of others, it's a very real concern and should be addressed.
Dear Abby disagrees:
DEAR FIRST-TIME MOM: If you start asking other parents whether they have guns in their homes and how they store them, your questions may be off-putting. Because you are concerned for your child's safety, why not offer to have the kids visit your house for playdates? I'm sure many of the parents will be glad to have some free time, and it shouldn't offend anyone.
In other words: Put the tender and delicate feelings of gun owners over the safety of your own flesh and blood. Welcome to America.
The idea that a gun owner would be offended if a parent asks if their gun is secure should be ludicrous. A responsible gun owner would understand the concern and happily confirm that they do, indeed, secure their gun against curious little hands. Also, the electrical outlets are covered, the stairs are baby-proofed and the dog never ever bites. Now let's party! How is this offensive? But since the NRA has created a culture of persecution and paranoia around requiring even minimal gun safety, we are told to tread softly around gun owners lest we hurt their feelings by expecting them to take common sense precautions.
If I were one of the millions of responsible gun owners in America, this caricature of me as an easily offended snowflake would be insulting in the extreme. Some of the loudest voices for gun safety are actual gun owners that find the NRA's propaganda to be dangerous and counterproductive so I don't know why Dear Abby wants us to treat them like spun glass. And not for nothing, if the person you're entrusting your child's safety flips their lid over a few simple questions, do you really want them in your child's life?