In lieu of my usual Weekend Reading post, I want to write a special post in honor of National ASK Day, which is tomorrow (June 21).
ASK stands for Asking Saves Kids, and the purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the importance of asking whether there are any unsecured guns in a friend's house before you send your child over to play.
People who follow me on Twitter may remember that I recently had to ask this very question. Pumpkin was invited for her first sleepover, with a friend from school. I have chatted with the friend's mother (and think she's great), but we certainly don't know the family well enough to know whether or not they have any guns in their house.
Several people responded to my tweet about having to ask about guns, wondering if I would write a post sharing how I asked. National ASK Day seemed like the perfect time to do just that!
First of all, let me make something clear: I am not a huge fan of guns, but I do not have a problem with people who are responsible gun owners. Actually, John Scalzi's recent post fairly accurately captures my feelings about guns and gun owners: I have no problem with people who enjoy using guns responsibly, but I am seriously creeped out by people for whom guns seem to have a fetish status.
I am not asking about guns to make sure that there are no guns in the houses where my daughters play. I am asking to make sure that any guns that are present are properly secured.
Still, given the contentiousness around guns in America, it is definitely an awkward question to ask. Even if there were no debates about gun regulations, the conversation would be awkward, because it feels a bit like you're asking the other parent whether or not they are a good parent.
But, as the ASK campaign says: awkward conversations are part of parenting.
Here is how I asked:
We were arranging the sleepover via email, so I simply added the following text to the email in which I confirmed the date the other family had suggested would work for us:
"Final thing- we have a few safety things we always check before we let [Pumpkin] go to someone's house without us. I already saw that you don't
have a pool and that your dog is not at all dangerous, so the only other
thing to ask is whether you have any guns in the home, and if so, if
they're locked up. "
I find the question less awkward if I group it with other safety concerns. I won't pretend this was an easy email to write. I think I stared at the text for 15 minutes before I sent it. I feel better having asked, though, and Pumpkin's friend's mom was not at all offended by the question. They do not have guns - so I have yet to see how this question is received by a gun owner.
Do any gun owners in my readership want to weigh in with whether or not they'd find that question offensive or off-putting? Have any of you had to ask this question yet? If so, how did you do it?