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Guns: An Open Letter To Parents

Calum Hayes |
October 29, 2013 | 10:15 a.m. PDT


Dear Parents,

(Phan Milne/Phan Dillon, Wikimedia Commons)
(Phan Milne/Phan Dillon, Wikimedia Commons)
There’s not really any easy way to say this, but we need to talk. No, I didn’t get someone pregnant and no, I didn’t fail a class. We actually need to talk about your behavior, not mine. 

Did you see the news this past week about the school shootings in Massachusetts and Nevada? It’s awful isn’t it? For the life of me, I can’t understand how a 12 year old, or a 14 year old, could get to the point of shooting their teacher and classmates.

It’s unfathomable to me, but this isn’t a letter about being sad or feeling cornered by the world. I need to talk to you about what we do with our guns.

You’ve both taught me so much. Mom, you taught me how to bake bread, tie a tie and be empathetic. Dad, you taught me how to drive, shave, love classic rock—and to shoot a gun. Remember all those times you took me to the shooting range to practice with the .22? Those are some of my best memories, Dad. Or going out to Sauvie Island and seeing from how far away we could hit an old pop can. 

Remember when you taught me about gun safety? Never letting me touch a gun until I’d told you the three rules: keep your finger off the trigger, never point it at something you don’t plan on shooting and always have the safety on.

See? I’d say I can do those in my sleep, but I’m pretty sure I did in a dream once. 

But this is about more than gun safety rules; it’s time to put the guns away. Life is hard as a teenager. We want more responsibility, but really don’t have any idea what to do with it. So it’s time for you to be the responsible ones. Stop counting on 12 and 14 year olds who get picked on at school to be able to make the right decisions around guns. Stop counting on children younger than that to not have accidents when you leave a gun on the dining room table. Stop trying to blame the parents of a child who bullied yours when you can’t even complete the far easier parenting task of remembering to put your guns back in the safe. 

No one outside our house can take those guns away. No one can take the .22 or the shotgun you gave me for Christmas that year. But that means you have to do it; you have to remember your obligations as a parent and not put kids in the position to make choices that end lives. You spent our teenage years pretending to love terrible movies just so we wouldn’t be watching them alone with our girlfriends. Can we put half as much effort into keeping kids from shooting other people as you did to keep me and my girlfriend from making out?

Buy a safe, buy trigger locks and don’t let your kids know where you keep the family guns. If you’re responsible enough to have a child, you should be responsible enough to safely own a gun. Bring the .22 out when we want to pretend I haven’t grown up and go shoot pop cans again, and then put it away. Talk to us about what happens when something goes wrong with a gun. Stop sheltering us from the reality of what the thing in our hands is capable of doing to someone. 

I know you weren’t expecting this letter but its something you need to hear, parents. It’s time to stop acting like teenagers and take responsibility for the relationship our family has with guns. It’s time to stop singing “lock up your daughters, lock up your wives,” and realize in your role as a parent, you need to lock up your guns.

Imagine a culture of responsible parents not giving their children the chance to make mistakes around guns they can never take back. A culture of responsible, gun owning parents? It’s Dynamite. 





Reach Columnist Calum Hayes here; follow him here.



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