Advice needed regarding my dad's gun
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|Sat, 12-30-2006 - 5:19pm|
I hope you guys don't mind - I am going to post this on more then one board that I frequent. I would like lots of opinions here, I guess.
I think many of you have heard about the storm that the Pac NW endured the week before Christmas. It wasn't Katrina by any means, but it was still unnerving. There are people up here who just got their power on last night from what I heard. We were without power for four days - no phone service either, including no cell phone service. There were only a couple of gas stations in the area that had not lost power and the lines at these stations were tremendous. Fistfights were breaking out at one of them. On our third day without power (house was freezing) I sent my husband out to try to get gas for the car. He stood in line for two hours but came home with a full tank. Once he got the gas, we left and drove down to my parents house (four hours away) in Oregon. We had mostly dirty laundry in bags and none of us had showered for days. It was truly creepy to drive along the freeway and everything was just black. I'm telling all this to you so you will understand the state of mind I was in when we finally arrived at my parents' house to heat, light and warm food.
My dad is very interested in guns. He was career military and so has been very well trained in handling them. Up until this year his hobby was flying his small plane, but he is getting a bit old for that so his plane is now for sale. Now that he isn't flying anymore his interest in guns has taken on a new life. He is now a member of a shooting club and really enjoys this as a hobby. I have no problem with that and in fact am glad that he has something new to take the place of his flying.
When we walked in to my parents' house, dirty, tired and sooo thankful to be there, one of the first things I said to my dad, in an aside was, "Dad, I know we came at just the last minute and no one had time to really think about anything or make plans, so I am just asking as a precaution - do you have any loaded guns around where my kids could find them?"
Dad said, "No - all the guns are locked up in the gun safe in the garage except for the one I keep in my room."
I said, "Oh, okay. That one's not loaded then?"
"Oh yes, I keep that one loaded for security, but I don't think your kids could hurt themselves with it - I'll show you." I am thinking, "Oh boy..." But I followed him up to his room to see what he was talking about. My dad removes this gun that was in the top drawer of his bedside stand - right at my kids' level. He shows me how the bullets are in the magazine and the magazine is in the gun, but that there is no bullet in the chamber of the gun and so cannot be fired. He showed me how you put a bullet in the chamber, by moving a spring loaded latch (or whatever) and the spring action moves the bullet into the chamber where it can now be fired. "See," said Dad, "I think that is too hard for them to physically move." It didn't look all that hard to me, but I hadn't tried it, just watched my dad. I was absolutely unsure about a child's ability to pull that spring.
So I am standing there, trying to think how best to tell my dad that I am just not comfortable with this and could he please either take the magazine out of the gun or else put the gun up where my kids can't reach it. You have to understand that my dad must be 'handled.' He will easily interpet this as an violation of his patriotic right to own firearms if I handle it the wrong way. Then we are just through. Sigh... At this point, my mom walks in and says in an off-hand way, "Oh Bob, just put the gun up." And my dad jumps all over her, barking "I'll put the damn gun up in the morning!"
And that's it as far as my dad is concerned. I just left the room at that point, knowing there was nothing to be gained by more discussion.
I went to both of my children, five and seven years old, and talked very seriously to them. I told that they were NOT allowed in Grandma and Grandpa's room, that there was a loaded gun in there and that it was not safe. They agreed to stay out of his room and I did keep my family at my parents' house in spite of the fact that I have always told myself that if this ever became an issue that I would have just left. However that was definitely easier said then done with no clean clothes, two children who had been in the car for four hours and were so happy to see their grandparents, and two dogs. To go to a hotel would have been tantamount to a declaration of war against my dad - or at least he would have interpreted it that way.
I should say that I don't think there is any reason for my kids to go in my parents' bedroom and I never have. To me that is their private room and I don't think my kids need to be in there. However, my parents have by their past actions MADE that room open for my children. My kids have slept in there with sleeping bags with my parents, my mom has a comfy chair in there that she reads bedtime stories to them in, etc. And my kids have always felt that they were allowed in that room with no problem.
So we stayed and I was very unhappy about that loaded gun.
My husband and I discussed this further when we got home and the bottom line is that I am not willing to stay there any more if my dad insists on keeping the gun so easily accessible to my kids. But how far do I take it? Do we never even go to visit during the day? Is it only overnights that we don't do? I'm trying to figure out how this will work. Do we drive four hours to see them only to insist that we meet at a restaurant?
I am not even going to go into how this has made me feel. To know that my dad views his right to have a loaded gun as more important than my children's safety. The killer is that my parents have actually lost a child (to leukemia) so they KNOW what it is like to go through the death of a child. How can they view this as a worthwhile risk?
And what this means is that we just won't be able to see much of them. They nearly never come up here to stay with us. We always have to go down there. So how would you handle this? Dad and I have not talked since we left so there has been no further gun discussion. I have actually been losing sleep over this issue.