Today contributor Jennifer Galle is a stay-at-home wife and mom to two little girls. She's also an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and the National Membership Director for the A Girl and a Gun Woman's Shooting League. In a recent article titled "I Am a Mom With a Gun," she writes,
"... while I’m like many other moms across America, there is one little twist in my daily routine that may set me apart. When I go to the grocery store, I grab my car keys, my purse and I put on my holster. Yes, I am a mom with a gun. So was my mom. And someday, my daughters may be too."
I am too. A mom with a gun, that is. I definitely don't take it to the grocery store -- in fact, it rarely leaves our safe -- but I own one and I know how to use it. My husband is a hunter and a gun enthusiast. And our sons will grow up learning how to safely handle and shoot firearms.
The subject of kids and guns is a difficult one, not only because of horrific incidents like Newtown, but also for the seemingly endless number of stories about children and accidental shootings. Last week, a 13-year-old shot his 6-year-old sister with a handgun he'd found at home. A week for that, a 5-year-old killed his 2-year-old sister with a kid-specific Crickett rifle he'd been given the year before.
My 7-year-old has that same rifle.
More from The Stir: Toddler Shoots Himself in the Foot With Parents’ Gun & That’s Criminal
That rifle, however, is secured in a heavy-duty safe. He doesn't touch it without direct adult supervision, and never in a million years would we leave it lying around the house where he or his brother could access it. Like his dad, he first learned how to shoot a BB gun (as shown in the photo accompanying this post) before graduating to safety lessons with the youth rifle.
Still, I realize the fact that we're a gun-owning family automatically puts me on a side of a political debate I often don't feel qualified to take part in. People don't tend to have mellow feelings about guns, much less the idea of children being exposed to guns. Look at some of the horrified, disgusted reactions to a recent NRA-hosted "Youth Day" convention:
This is indoctrination. These kids are too young to see that guns are wrong.
It agitates me that these people don’t think it could happen to their children. This is just beyond words.
They shouldn’t be teaching kids how to use guns. What happens when they get older? They might become like that Connecticut killer.
That last comment may as well be aimed at my family. We teach our children how to handle guns. So are we raising the next mass shooter?
Well, obviously I don't think so. I believe that my sons will grow up much like my husband and his brother did, as responsible shooters who were trained from day one how to safely handle a firearm. They may be entirely uninterested in guns when they're older, and that's fine -- but they'll have a healthy respect for what a gun is capable of.
My political beliefs differ from my husband when it comes to guns. He is a hugely passionate proponent of the Second Amendment, while I feel ... less strongly than he does. In the wake of Newtown, I felt -- and still do feel, in many ways -- terribly confused about what it is I DO believe about gun rights.
But aside from the thorny subjects of who should be allowed to own what kind of weapon, here's the reality of the world we live in today: according to the Children's Defense Fund, one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun, and more than 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked.
For that reason alone, I'm glad my children are being taught about gun safety. I fully support the ASK campaign, which encourages parents to ask questions about guns in homes before playdates (and although I'd likely feel awkward about it, I would totally understand if a parent didn't want their child to come to our home). And like Jennifer Galle, I want people to know that owning a gun doesn't make you an irresponsible parent -- it's the choices you make that have the potential to do so.
What do you think about kids growing up in a house with guns?
Image via Linda Sharps