The last time I had a chance to ask about a gun in the house where my children were staying, I didn’t. And even when I found out there was a loaded gun in the house, I didn’t ask how it was secured. I was afraid to offend, and I was afraid of a confrontation. And frankly, I took the easy way out. What was I going to do? Pack up my family in the middle of the night and drive off in a huff? Nope, not me. So there you go.
There are other confrontations I don’t avoid: parties with trampolines (both kids have already had accidents on one), parties serving soda to preschoolers, properly securing children in grocery carts. So, really, it doesn’t make much sense that I shy away from a conversation about firearms. Especially because I’m not exactly reticent about my activism lately. I figure that if I feel uncomfortable asking about firearms in my neighbors’ homes, there are probably others who also feel uncomfortable. And that’s why today, National ASK Day, is such a great stepping stone to responsible communication about gun violence prevention in children.
Just as groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America doesn’t want to disarm responsible gun owners, the Center to Prevent Youth Violence doesn’t try to pretend that guns are not of interest to curious children, nor does it pretend that properly securing a firearm is a solution to all violence. However, along with many other gun violence prevention groups, they are putting the discussion of firearms and how they are stored front and center. It’s an important discussion, and the number of affected children have been ignored for far too long.
In New Jersey, our most recent child tragedy involving unsecured weapons was a call to action for many. And it has forced reasonable gun owners to at least reconsider sometimes casual storage of firearms. “Don’t touch!” is never enough when it comes to most situations with children and teens (or adults, really). And that’s what National ASK Day acknowledges and encourages us all to confront.
Screw up the courage to ASK the question, just as you would for any other safety or health issue you’d ask about as a parent. Or turn it around and offer up the information that you either don’t keep a gun in your home, or that you DO, and you keep it properly secured, away from where children play.
This is one of the few immediate and effective actions we can take to prevent gun violence. The legislation is slow, the activism is exhausting and a long haul, and the costs of gun violence are ongoing. Do your part and ASK the questions to start and to keep the conversation going – to keep our children safe.