sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

June 27, 2011

Anti-Gun Agenda Placement in “Parents” Magazine?

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:58 am

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

Judy answered:

Dear 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:

Dear Blank,

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.

hot chicks with guns

...Speaking of which. Although those look like M16s, I do think Rachel Papo is a great photographer.

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.

hot chick with gun

That's an Uzi.

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.

kalashnikov picture

Good 'ol AK47. Back in the USSR we had to shoot them in high school. Not real bullets, of course.

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.

kids guns


  1. Y’all made the questions up? That would explain a lot about Dear Prudence at Slate.
    And agenda placement is done. Underhanded, but it is done. There was a good example in the last few years. It wasn’t avoiding Obama’s background or Palin slandering that I’m thinking of. It was something proactive, where they tried to lay the foundation for some issue. I’ll probably remember the specifics at 4am, and wake to post.

    Comment by AHLondon — June 27, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    • I know about waking up at 4 am. After I already have the factoid, how can I go to sleep?
      I’m sure they did it.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 27, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

  2. Actually, the first photo is of M-16’s. The second is an M-4 Carbine, a shorter version of the M-16. The fourth photo is a Stinger Missile (used for taking out aircraft).

    As far as the question to Judy on Duty, I prefer your answer over the other one. And I prefer the other question you ask about prescription drugs, that worries me a lot more than my kids shooting themselves.

    Comment by fleeceme — June 27, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

    • I stand corrected. In my defense, the weapon in the second picture was misidentified in the thread I lifted it from.
      When I was a teenager a toddler girl in my apartment house swallowed a bunch of grandmother’s pills and died. That was in another country, of course. I actually like the emphasis on safety — when it’s reasonable. Yes, you have to store your medications away from children, and you have to watch them around the pool area. But no, you don’t need a toilet lock and you can keep the guns.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 27, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  3. People think “guns” and accidental shooting not “swimming pool” and accidental drowning. Your answer is better but many parents are uncomfortable around guns so the question probably does need to be broached. But If I had kids (which I don’t) and guns (which I do) I would feel concerned that the parent in question would blacklist my family because of my firearm status. In California it is against the law to have a gun accessible to children and, if the kid shot someone, mom or dad would be held responsible.

    There’s no easy answer but I’m sure the people working for that magazine have a Liberal agenda. At the same time, if you have kids you should keep your firearm locked.

    Comment by Harrison — June 27, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    • They would blacklist you if they’d find out, and who knows what will be said about your kids. I don’t think the question needs to be addressed because the gun doesn’t pose a danger to kids. Certain ideas people have about gun ownership can be addressed, but probably not at a PTA meeting or a playdate. I learned to keep the conversation neutral and boring.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 27, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

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  5. I think a better idea is to raise kids to be responsible around guns and to be taught in no uncertain terms that they are not toys. For centuries, children were raised in homes with guns. I think they were kept hung on a wall high enough that young children too young to know better couldn’t reach them.

    This business of having a gun kept in a locked box, empty, with the bullets kept elsewhere– screw that. It’s pointless.

    This race riot business in Peoria has finally cemented my decision to get a gun.

    Comment by Karen Howes — June 28, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

    • I agree that the recommendation to keep guns and bullets separate in a locked box is ridiculous. Once you’ve done it, the guns are no longer useful against an intruder. It’s baby-proofing on steroids like toilet locks and furniture corner padding.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 28, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    • You can store your gun loaded and locked in a spring open safe that simply requires a 5 digit keypad entry. If I had children, that’s what I would use – and teaching junior not to play with guns.

      Comment by Harrison — June 28, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

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