First I hear about Obama’s “under the radar” work on gun control, then about the 2nd Amendment implications of the gunwalker scandal and a Florida prohibition on physicians asking questions about gun ownership (via Instapundit), which my HMO does, of course. So it looks like we are re-fighting the right to bear arms once again.
Parents magazine (published by Meredith Corp., circulation 2 million) runs a monthly q&a column titled Judy on Duty. The July installment was headlined by the following question:
How do you ask a parent who’s invited your kid over for a playdate if there’s a gun in the house? I don’t want to come across like a rude freak or anything.
Drawing a Blank
I admire you for getting fired up to have this conversation. There are guns in 40 percent of homes with young children, and the weapons are loaded and accessible to kids in about half of those homes, according to Parents advisor Gary A. Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., director for Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio. He suggests using this script to make it less awkward: “I have a question that I ask all parents when Kyle goes to a new person’s house. Do you have any guns in your home, and if you do, are they stored unloaded and locked in a separate location? Kyle is so curious, and I worry that he wouldn’t recognize the potential danger if he came across a weapon.”
I suggest an alternative answer:
Who are those friends of yours that leave their unlocked loaded guns within their children’s reach? One thing that parenting taught me is trust my gut. If I get the vibe that another person’s house is not a safe place for my kids, stay away. Whether or not they own an Uzi is irrelevant.
Furthermore, I don’t understand why you are concerned specifically about guns and not, say, prescription medication left within your child’s reach. A well-known fact is worth rehashing here: swimming pools are far more dangerous for kids than guns. How dangerous are guns? Dr. Reynolds, who is probably not Glenn Reynolds we all know and love, did the math: “[I am] looking at all 26 countries there were 1107 [gun] deaths total [occurred] over 43 years in kids younger than 15. A staggering 957(86%) of those deaths occurred in the US. Of those, only 22% were accidental. Remember, though, that this is a tally over 43 years. So if you do the math 957 x 22% = 210 accidental deaths in the US over 43 years or roughly 5 accidental deaths per year in the U.S. from a firearm. There are an estimated 44 million households in the U.S. with firearms, and thus letting your child play at little Timmy’s house gives him about a 1 in ten million chance of dying there from an accidental gunshot wound (roughly the same risk as being struck by lightning). This is undeniably tragic for those 5 kids and their families each year – but not quite the public health epidemic you might think.” No reason to include firearm ownership on your playdate safety checklist.
In the event you still decide to talk about guns with your associates, I recommend against following Dr. Smith’s script — unless you want to sound like a rude freak, that is. When you say that your kid is “curious” you are implying that hers is incurious and stupid.
Bottom line: When you quiz your neighbors about firearm ownership, you violate their privacy.
I want to know if Drawing a Blank is a real person. At my last job we wrote a monthly q&a column for a small paper. We had to make up most of the questions because we rarely got any from readers. We thought about what interests people in our community, kept them updated about recent developments in our area of expertise and from time to time advertised our services. If our Director wanted us to address a specific issue, we’d write about that, too. All real questions were answered because they were real and because readers came up with more interesting questions.
DH notes that he can’t imagine what kind of person would ask the gun question. There are areas in this country where people own guns, and areas where people don’t own guns. Here in deep blue Bay Area it is assumed that other parents are some sort of pacifists, and the question never comes up. In red states and counties people know that the chances of gun injury are negligible, so, I assume, the question never comes up.
Parents magazine certainly has a political angle, and they are huge fans of BO and his wifie. The same July issue, for instance, featured The Hunger House by Virginia Sole-Smith. In it, Mrs. Sole-Smith said:
President Obama pledged to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. The most concrete action to come from that pledge to date is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which will expand the federal school-lunch program to provide healthy free or reduced-priced breakfasts, lunches and suppers to more low income students.
Must reelect. Now, I’m not going to discuss the issue of hungry kids in need of low calorie diet and Michelle Obama’s guidance. I’m just going to observe that Parent’s last page, a feature called Bloopers, page typically contains too many cute utterances by suspiciously verbal two-year olds.
Mommy magazines tend to rotate content. With predictable regularity they publish articles about milestones, family vacation spots or what it means to eat for two. In my four plus years of reading mommy magazines I never read anything about gun ownership, and now all of a sudden Judy on Duty, who usually talks about in-law issues, wants us “fired up” about it.
I have no proof, of course, that there is some sort of a White House conspiracy to shape the content of this family publication. On the other hand I assume that every onesie and mobile that appeared on the pages of the good socialist magazine was placed by company agreement, so why not assume that Parent’s political agenda is affected in a similar manner? While product placement is smart business, agenda placement does seem a bit underhanded.