Advice needed regarding my dad's gun

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2004
Advice needed regarding my dad's gun
5
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.

Susan

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2003
Sun, 12-31-2006 - 3:50pm

Wow.. first, I"m sorry that in all of this, how bad it is with just that feeling that the gun was given the higher priority than your feelings. That alone, stinks.

I don't know what I would do in your situation. Driving 4 hours to just meet them for dinner doesn't sound good but then again, you shouldn't have to compromise how you feel about guns.

Would he consider a compromise or something? What if he got just a little safe to keep his gun in while your family was in the house? It has buttons that have to be pushed in the right "code" to open.. it can be done in like 5 seconds. So if he heard a noise where the thought he would need it, it honestly wouldn't take much more time. He could even keep it on top of the table during the night if he wanted..

http://www.lock-depot.com/scripts/prodview.asp?idProduct=232

My husband has his concealed carry permit and has a Glock. When it's not on him, he keeps it in the safe (like the above, only larger). The kids know they're not to play with the safe (it's not in their reach although they know where it is) plus they could play with it all day long and never figure out the code. Something else we do though, is when dh is cleaning it (so no bullets anywhere near by) is to show the kids it and take the novelty of "a gun" out of it. He also spends a lot of time (as do I) teaching them they are not to ever touch one, and what to do if they find one and why it's not a toy, etc.

As for loading the gun.. in my opinion, it does take a bit of effort to load it (and get the bullet in the chamber), and that's me. I don't think most kids know that you have to do that (mine don't).. I think most presume, you pull the trigger and it fires (only applies to revolvers). I would say my almost 7 year old could definitely not pull the chamber back and load it. My dh went to a range with a friend and his (big) 12 year old son, and he could barely do it. So in that sense.. I think you're safe.. but still, it's a gun.. and if it somehow was loaded, it would fire until empty. At the very least, during the day he should keep it in a safe (like the link above) when your children are there.

Good luck.. let us know what others say (from the other board) and what you decide.

Oh, and my dad was stuck w/ out power for 7 days!! He said they were freezing but luckily had a gas fireplace to sleep in front of at night. The closest town w/ power was 30 miles away and he also said they were running out of gas.. and the places that did have gas, had no generators.. I bet that was awful!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2004
Mon, 01-01-2007 - 4:35pm

Thanks so much to everyone for your replies. I really appreciate the thought you all put in to what you had to say and your opinions really helped me come to a conclusion that I feel comfortable with. This is definitely a sticky issue. Since I posted this message on four different boards, I will go ahead and cut and paste this reply for all the boards as well. Thanks for putting up with that! :D

I got a lot of good ideas from other parents here. One was to have my dad put a lock on his bedroom door. I think this is entirely reasonable. Another idea was to buy an in-drawer gun box with a combination entry. That way, he could keep the gun loaded next to his bed and only have to punch in a quick four digit code to open the box. I thought that was also an excellent idea.

One kind poster even gave me a link to purchase a code-key lock box and that was great. So in my mind I had two ways to go. One: I would offer to buy that box for my dad. He could code it in with some meaningful number to him so that it would be easily recalled and that should solve the problem. He wouldn't even have to use it when my kids weren't staying with him. I was thinking he might go for that. The other option was to just say nothing about the situation and stay with my brother when we come in to town for visits. After talking with my brother, I think that is what I will do.

My brother told me that the idea for the gun box was a great one, but that it assumes that my dad will be reasonable about this. (Note: he is not a reasonable man.) And I think my brother had a good point. I mean, really. If Dad was going to be reasonable, then he would have done something the night the gun became an issue. This is what just burns me. There were so many other options! He could have taken the magazine with the bullets out and put it under his pillow or in his pocket. I mean - at whatever point he discerns that someone is breaking in to the house, he has to go get his gun anyway, right? Why not just keep the magazine on his person? It is very quick to load. He could have also just put the loaded gun on the top shelf in his closet. How much longer would it take him to reach that from his bed? Two seconds? Three? Come on! The truth is, that this is not about finding a reasonable solution to the safety issue. At least - not for my dad. Dad has decreed that the gun is safe, even while loaded, that my kids could not possibly move a bullet to the chamber by pulling that spring (even though my daughter at the age of three opened a prescription bottle with a child proof cap) so therefore, it is safe and he is not be questioned about his decisions in his own home.

Well, okay. He is right. It IS his house and it IS his decision. So we just won't go there for overnight visits. I think day visits will work out as long as the kids stay downstairs and I will be sure to vigilantly supervise that.

I hadn't really considered staying with my brother. He and his wife both work and I didn't want to impose on them. But he told me to just come there and stay when we visit. He thought that the gun box was a great idea IF Dad brought up the gun issue himself. But that if I bring it up to him, he will just interpret it as my trying to tell him what to do in his own home, instead of as a compromise for everyone (which is how I saw it.) Unfortunately, I think my bro is right.

So that's what I will do. Unfortunately, this does make it a little harder on everyone. But my brother is right. If dad was prepared to be understanding about this, then he wouldn't have taken such a hard stand in the first place.

This is what I've had to deal with my entire life, so I'm not sure why I was so surprised.

Thanks again everyone! And thanks especially for that link to the in drawer gun safe. If my dad chooses to discuss this issue with me again, then I will certainly offer to buy that for him.

Take care,

Susan

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2005
Mon, 01-01-2007 - 6:34pm

I'd play hardball.
the gun is removed during your visits OR their bedroom door remains locked during your visits.

He loves you. He will call you names and be mean for a bit, but he will want to be with his gradkids enough to follow through.

Good luck!

Avatar for nlas99
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 01-03-2007 - 12:04pm

Thank goodness your brother is so reasonable! I was going to suggest staying at a cheap motel, but that would probably be costly. I just don't understand people putting their guns above their GRANDCHILDREN's safety!

Well, maybe staying with your brother a few times will let your dad know you are serious and he will reconsider. I hope so.

Lynn

Lynn
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 01-05-2007 - 12:49pm

Hi, Susan. I had a whole post writtena nd hit a button on the key board that wiped it out! GRRRR!!!


I think part of your dad's "issue" is that he is still in miltary mode. I mean, for YEARS these men and women fight for their country and get "comfortable" with some extremem thinking and actions because they're trained to do so. Its very hard for them to switch from that once they are out.


While I understand that, I think you need to stand your ground and let him know that this is not the military and he doesn't need to stand watch like a soldier all of the time. The only way to do that without offending him or hurting his pride in serving his country is to say, "I know you are comfortable with this, dad, but I am not.

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