Owning Guns Doesn't Make Me a Bad Mom

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



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Erinly Erinly

I've seen parents bring their 10 and 11 year olds to the shooting range and I think it's awesome. I know some people are nervous having guns around kids, but I guarantee if those boys ever encounter a situation where they're at a friends house and see a gun laying around, they'll know what guns can do and it could potentially save a life. I think you need to teach your kids to be smart ad savvy about guns. Knives and scissors can be deadly too, but it's all about knowledge and awareness, not hiding in a corner and becoming paralyzed with fear.

Craft... CraftyJenna

We own guns, and keep them unloaded and safely locked up. I think it's very irresposible not to. My father was a hunter and a gun safety instructer and we were brought up knowing how to be around guns safely, and that they were never toys. I think a lot of problems occur when parents hide guns and never teach gun safety to their kids, especially when those guns are loaded. The ASK caimpain may be awkward to talk about, but it does make sense, and maybe it will even make people think about how they are storing and keeping their firearms, and encourage more safe and responsible gun owners- one can hope at least. 

bleed... bleedingheart8D

I don't own a gun. I am a single mom with two kids. My husband, who passed away last summer, was in the military and really did not want guns in the house. I still believe in that, but in this day and age, we do need to talk to our children about guns and gun safely as not enough people are being responsible with them. My daughter(5) was send home with gun safety information from school. It was from the NRA, which is an organization I have issues with, but the tone of the papers was a good one. It talked about never touching guns your come across and finding an adult right away. Also, it reiterated over and over again how responsible parents need to be if they have guns in a house with small children.

Tracys2 Tracys2

I'm OK with it, responsibly. However, I have seen many people (including army) leave loaded guns sit with small children around, shoot them outside without checking on kids or warning, etc.

I don't really trust others with guns, especially if I don't know them. I knew guy who had a gun at college who did borderline sexual assault. He shouldn't have had a gun, and I wasn't happy he did- but it was legal. My friends were responsible gun owners with a safe. Their 13 year old was a good Scout, but first time he was home alone, got into the safe and ammo (as most kids that age do) and killed himself by accident.

OTOH, I know people who have fun at shooting ranges. Some shoot extra deer safely and for food, and keep the deer from being on the road. I know one person who has a gun stored safely, and probably more that I don't know about.

Personally, I don't want a gun because I've had depression and it'd be stupid to have access to one in case I ever got suicidal, and since they're higher risk, am very wary of my children ever having access. There is a MUCH higher risk of suicide with access to a gun. Even cars are safer

However, since some family (and many in the US) have guns, leave them out and kids play with them, my kids learn gun safety from very young, and will continue to. Apart from that, and keeping them in more-responsible houses, I can only pray they listen and are supervised (many young people, even 20+, don't "get" the risk/permanence of actions).

Melis... Melissa1508

Well written article, Linda.  No, I don't think you're raising the next mass shooter because that young man had mental issues that were not addressed for whatever reason.  He was an unstable person and unfortunately, the combination of that and his access to weapons was tragic.  I'm not exactly sure how I feel about gun laws either...I do firmly believe that no normal citizen needs an assault rifle for any reason whatsoever.  I know some people think they're cool or whatever, but that's just my own opinion.  I think it's imperative that children are taught gun safety from a very young age whether there is a weapon in the house or not.  Just because we're responsible with our weapon doesn't mean other parents will be...I'd like my daughters to have the knowledge of what to do if a weapon is out in the open...as one of the other posters pointed out, they could save a life that way.  The time we're living in is a dangerous one and as they say, knowledge is power.

Coles... Coles_mom

I seem to be the exeption today, but I have a great many men in my life who are law enforcement, hunters, and military. Not one of the men I know should be allowed within a mile of a gun. Irresponsible hothead in the case of my police officer brother. My hunter husband is a drunk- who is always drunk or hungover on the deer stand. My military friends are walking PTSD billboards and simply don't need to be near a weapon (I'm ex military myself). One of the first questions I ask when someone invites one of my kids over is if they have weapons in their house. If they say "yes", then I immediately say (very nicely of course) that I don't agree with guns in homes and my kiddo can't go...then I usually flip the invite. Maybe extreme, but I've seen too many bad things.

Kami McManus

There is nothing wrong with owning guns as long the owner is responsible about them! Guns are not the problem! People being irresponsible with them or using them for illegal activity is the problem. Drunk drivers kill people with cars and I don't see anyone trying to take away our cars!!!!

Msshe Msshe

No does not make you a bad mom. You just have to keep them locked up and unloaded.  Yes -- too many bad things. Have to be very responsible owning as a parent when you have children!!

Msshe Msshe

Also, you should learn safety guidelines before being a gun owner as well

Crystal Dawn Bland

we dont own a gun, but have talked about buying one. my kids will learn about gun safety before we even get one. with the way the world is going, i think it is important for people to own firearms. and kids should learn to use them properly. this is a great article.

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