Many people know my husband has a love for guns and shooting recreationally. It’s not even that he loves to hunt (which he does), or even 100% about home security (which it partially is). At the end of the day, he simply loves to shoot guns. It is one of his favorite things to do. He and his friend Ceth will go out into the wilderness where there’s no one around and set up all kinds of obstacle courses and targets (sometimes swinging targets that they make themselves or other similar things to make it more difficult/fun) and they time themselves as they go through their set up to practice for competitive shooting. He watches hours and hours of Youtube videos in his free time (when he’s sitting on the toilet) that are all about shooting, reviews of different guns/gun equipment, gun parts, and reloading (so he can basically make his own ammo reusing the brass from used ammo). I think it’s weird that he gets so much flak for his interest in shooting recreationally when there are plenty of people who love archery who don’t get nearly as much flak for also shooting dangerous things at targets. Not to brag on him or anything, but the guy knows more about guns and how they work than the majority of our law enforcement, and his training and practice using them make him as qualified, if not more, when it comes to using them responsibly as well. He works at a gun shop behind the gun counter, helping customers find the right gun for their needs and running background checks before selling them. He’s even allowed to straight up not sell a gun to a customer if he just doesn’t feel good about it because the guy seems sketchy/questionable (not that he usually would have to really do that since a quick background check usually tells them all they need to know). He helps customers select the right gun based on what they will be using it for: hunting, home security, concealed carry, or just recreational shooting. He answers questions and sometimes fixes guns that come in broken or jammed.
How did this obsession start? He must have come from a gun-crazy home and been raised this way… Not so. Although his parents aren’t anti-gun, they definitely aren’t gun-lovers either. They never went out shooting and they didn’t grow up really knowing anything about guns. In fact, my husband didn’t even own his first gun until after we had gotten married. He had some friends in high school that would go out shooting recreationally and his interest began there. He’s not sure why he and his older brother have both become gun fans as they have become adults. He’s had some theories, but there’s no real way to know for sure. However, now they share a common interest and close bond as brothers, over shooting.
So how does this affect me and what are my opinions on the matter? Do I mind having, usually several, guns in the house at a time with my two toddlers around? Do I ever get nervous? Do I think it’s providing us with more safety or danger?
Well, the first thing you need to understand about me is that my experiences growing up greatly affect my views on this subject. My father was a special agent in a federal law enforcement agency for the entire time I was growing up. He even taught a gun safety course to other law enforcement agents during his time in law enforcement. This means we grew up with a gun in our house. He kept it either locked up in a code-protected safe, or on his person, concealed, at all times. Every so often he would take it out, empty it completely so it was safe, and then show it to us, let us touch it, explaining what it was, how it worked, and emphasizing how incredibly dangerous it was (He would usually pull out his badge and handcuffs as well and take turns handcuffing each of us as we all begged “Me next! Me next! Pretend you’re arresting me! Say the thing you have to say about having the right to remain silent!”). He took my brothers out shooting a few times, recreationally, as well. We grew up knowing that guns were powerful and could be very dangerous in the wrong hands and if not handled properly. We weren’t really curious about them at all because we had an education on them by our dad. None of us ever even dreamed of trying to get into his gun safe or even touching his gun without him being there beside us and without his express permission. We knew from a very young age that it was just not something you messed with, the same way we learned basic knife safety or how to use any tool that can be dangerous if the safety rules are ignored. We were taught that a gun is a tool that needed to be respected and used correctly, always keeping the safety rules in mind, or someone could get seriously hurt or killed; the exact same way you need to keep certain safety rules in mind when handling a knife or power tool or driving a vehicle.
I even remember one time, during our short time living in Puerto Rico for my dad’s job, coming home from somewhere and seeing our front door open. My Dad’s face got very serious as we pulled up into the driveway and he said, sternly, “Everyone wait in the car. Do NOT get out.” And he pulled out his gun and cleared the house, while we waited in the car not even daring to breath ***for those of you unaware, “clearing the house” means he went in, room by room, and checked for an intruder, the way you see policemen and other law enforcement agents do in movies when they break down someone’s door and walk along the edges of the walls with their guns out in front, checking every nook and cranny for the criminal*** There wasn’t any intruder and it appeared nothing was stolen so we came to the conclusion that someone simply left the door open when we left. Phew! It was then safe to enter the house. It was such a scary moment for all of us though and I remember that it made me feel so safe to have the dad I had. I always knew, in my innocent little heart, that he would be able to protect us from almost anything and that his gun and his training on how to use it, made us so much safer as a family. He was definitely my hero and protector.
Keeping this in mind you probably have an idea of what my view on guns is. My husband is more interested in guns and shooting recreationally than my dad was so we have a lot more guns in our home than I had in my home growing up. We do keep them all locked up in a safe in a room that is also locked from the inside so that our toddlers can’t get into them at all though. Have we taken our kids out shooting with us? Yes. Even at this young of an age. We have a lot of safety rules in place when we go out shooting regularly and even more so when there are kids with us. I hold them or have them very close by me, or we sit in the car with the A.C./heat on, and watch a movie on the portable DVD player, while my husband and I take turns sitting with the kids and shooting at targets far away and in the opposite direction of the car. The result? My almost 3 year old already understands how dangerous and powerful guns are and wouldn’t even dream of messing with or touching one without an adult around. When he talks about “daddy’s gun” he has a serious reverence in his voice that makes it very clear he knows they are dangerous and not to be messed with. The times my husband has emptied a gun to make it safe to handle without accidentally going off (he triple checks to make sure it is empty every time) he lets my almost 3 year old touch it and teaches him what the different parts of the gun are called. He has already started giving him an education on guns and I’m confident that our son would be better off if he were to come across a gun laying around than most other kids his age. He would know to not touch it and would probably immediately tell an adult, whereas a child who has only seen them in movies or never seen one before in his life might pick it up and mess around with it, thinking “Wow! This is cool!”
As he and our daughter (and any other kids we have along the way) get older we plan to teach them more and give them opportunities to shoot once they are big enough and show that they can be responsible enough and mature enough. This is something that has nothing to do with age and everything to do with maturity. We won’t have a set age at which our children will be allowed to start shooting b.b. guns and then progress through different calibers of real guns. It will be determined on an individual basis, based on each child’s level of maturity and responsibility, the same way we will begin to teach/allow them to use any potentially dangerous tool by themselves or begin to drive a vehicle by themselves. As maturity allows and they show how willing and responsible they are with diligently following safety rules, our kids will be allowed to do more and more with guns.
I know this is not everyone’s view and I know many people will disagree with this, and that’s okay. I can understand a person’s fear of guns, especially with the way they are often portrayed and demonized in the media, and don’t blame people for being so terrified of them. I just don’t think of them in that way though. To me they are similar to a knife, lighter, hammer, chain saw, power tool, lawn mower, garbage disposal, wood chopper, or any other dangerous tool: Dangerous if not used properly and not following proper safety guidelines. Dangerous if used by the wrong person, not kept out of reach of small children who don’t know better, but on its own just a tool to be used either for good or bad, and not in and of itself evil.
Personally, and partially because of my husband’s extensive knowledge and training, I feel very safe with guns in the house. He also has a concealed carry permit and often carries a gun on his person while we are out and about, especially at night, as well and I also feel safer with that. I just feel bad for anyone who ever tries to break into our home and hope no one ever does because it will most likely cost them their life, which is a sad thing. Necessary when it comes to protecting ourselves and our kids, but still awful and I hope it never happens in our home and comes to that. I am also grateful for the things my husband has taught me because it makes me more comfortable with using guns myself so that I can use one correctly if I were ever alone and needed to protect myself. At some point I plan to get my own concealed carry permit so I can carry one on me if I have to go to the grocery store late at night or something. Criminals will always have guns, no matter how many laws are put in place against it. By nature of being a criminal, laws won’t change anything or keep them from obtaining them. All gun restrictions do is unarm good responsible citizens. If a criminal is going to have a gun, I want one too so I can adequately protect myself. In this case, you really do need to fight fire with fire. Like the saying goes “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” (that’s just my belief)
*You are more than welcome to disagree with me and feel uncomfortable using a gun or keeping one in your home and that’s fine. You can choose to believe that guns are unsafe and will make your home more dangerous than safe and that’s fine too. I didn’t write this to try and convince anyone to change their minds. I wrote it because people often ask me how I feel about my husband loving guns, as if it’s something I had to get used to or cope with, assuming I had no experience being around them before him. I just wanted to share with anyone who is curious why I, not only don’t mind, but support having my kids grow up in a responsibly gun-loving home*