Freelance writer, memoirist and college essay consultant Dede Donahue wrote a piece for the Washington Post, entitled, “The Question I Ask Before Any Play Date,” on parenting and gun ownership in which she explains why she asked other parents if they keep guns in their home when her children were growing up.
“I’m not quite sure what compelled me to ask about guns when my children were small. I just added it to the litany of things I would tell parents – we have a dog, we have a pool that’s fenced, we don’t keep guns. It seemed that if a parent told me about their child’s food allergy, I could and should ask if they kept guns.”
That on it’s own is pretty reasonable. I have no problem if a parent asked me if I own firearms. Of course, I don’t have any children right now, but if and when I do I won’t have a problem having that conversation.
As a responsible and proud gun owner, I actually welcome that dialogue as any opportunity to talk guns is an opportunity to win over some hearts and minds. I recognize that many people are irrationally afraid of firearms and the only way for them to conquer this fear is for them to meet someone who likes to shoot and is open to having a non-judgmental conversation about guns. For various reasons, I like to think that I’m that person.
However, the article also contains some rather cringe-worthy moments. Here are a few examples:
Experts say that 1 in 3 families with children have at least one gun in the house, but somehow, I never thought those statistics would include the parents at my child’s progressive pre-school.
It drives me nuts when individuals who know very little about the gun community suggest that it is one big homogenous bunch consisting only of white, rural, Republican, Christian men and that there is not a wide range of folks from all different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. As mind-blowing as it may seem to denizens of “progressive” areas, gun owners come in all shapes, colors, sizes, genders, political affiliations.
Always it would lead to the most illuminating of answers, whether yes or no. If the response was negative, the parent would answer immediately, following up with something like, No, never. We don’t believe in having firearms.’ In the other cases, there would always be a pause preceded a simple, ‘Yes.’ I would follow up, ‘Do you have a gun safe?’ Usually, then came the ‘No.’
First off, in my opinion, parents who say “We don’t believe in having firearms” are about as rational as parents who say, “We don’t believe in having smoke alarms or fire extinguishers or first aid kits.” A firearm is tool that when placed in the hands of law-abiding citizens saves lives. Without a gun and a individual that knows how to use it, a home and a family are defenseless against the criminal element. If/When a home invader comes breaking through my front door I want to know that I have the means to defend myself, my property and most importantly my family.
Secondly, the insinuation that most gun owners do not have safe or a secure place to store firearms is anecdotal and doesn’t hold water. Donahue is trying to paint the average gun owner as an irresponsible schmuck. I’d argue the opposite, that the vast majority of gun owners who have children safely store their firearms.
I wasn’t raised among gun people, and I’ve never wanted one. Frankly, I have a bad Irish temper and don’t trust myself to have one. And I was taught it was more powerful to use your words or your mind.
I have no problem that Donahue doesn’t trust herself with a gun. Let’s be honest, gun ownership isn’t for everyone. Though, I’d also be interested to know if she’s ever fired one or spent any serious time looking into shooting. My guess is she has not, as most people who dislike guns or who are critical of gun ownership know nothing about guns and have zero experience shooting them. It’s kind of the way bigotry works.
The other point I call B.S. on is “I was taught it was more powerful to use your words or your mind” message. Seriously?! Does she really believe that her words or her mind will stop a sociopath or a serial rapist? Does one’s mind or words work against a madman hellbent on taking innocent lives?
No, overwhelmingly they do not. And the reason is that those seeking to harm others are not rational individuals who are vulnerable to logic, common sense or unconditional positive regard. In many cases, the only language they speak is violence. Given that, there’s only one way to deal with these evildoers, respond by using force — up to and including deadly force. That is the most powerful and effective way to deal with evil. Opt to take the “words” and “mind” route like Donahue suggests and you’re putting your life, your property and your family in danger.