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What Happened When I Asked If Guns Were In the House

What Happened When I Asked If Guns Were In the House

The short answer? Absolutely nothing.

Or rather, I got a straight reply, and then felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted from my shoulders. And so did the other mom – later, she thanked me for bringing it up.

The question never fails to pause the conversation, but it’s imperative parents get more comfortable asking it. Whatever your politics, whatever your family’s personal stance about owning a weapon, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to letting your kids play at other people’s houses. Your politics and theirs are irrelevant. FIND A WAY TO ASK.
[sws_pullquote_right]It’s getting close to hunting season in Alabama, and lots of local households are preparing for dove & deer hunting. Now is a great time to bone up on your gun safety communication with your kids, your friends, and your family. [/sws_pullquote_right]

At sleepovers we make sure kids have their toothbrushes and expect other parents to be sure they wear their seatbelts in the car. We communicate bits of important information about allergies, fears, or hang-ups that might make an appearance.

Why aren’t we asking about guns? It’s getting close to hunting season in Alabama, and lots of Dads and Granddads are preparing for dove & deer hunting. Now is a great time to bone up on your gun safety communication with your kids, your friends, and your family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention says “Most parents who own guns are responsible about keeping them locked, unloaded, and stowed away safely. Yet nearly 40 percent of gun-owning households with children have an unlocked gun to which a child might gain access.”

How to Ask

But asking someone if they have weapons in their house and how they are secured isn’t the easiest thing to do. If it makes you uncomfortable, try this: tell a story. It doesn’t have to be true – if that’s what it takes to help you ask the question, do it.

  • When I was a kid, I found a gun at a friend’s house and he was playing with it, and it scared me. I’ve never forgotten about that. Now I ALWAYS ask.
  • I knew a kid in school who was hurt really bad when she found a gun in her parents’ closet. It made me think about things like that with my own kids.
  • My daughter/son is SO curious – I just have to ask – do you guys keep any guns you might have locked up? 

Telling a story paints a vivid picture, and gives your questioning a more personal context.

What To Do With the Answer

Of course, once you ask the question, you need to know what you’re going to do with the answer. Is having a gun in the house a deal-breaker for you? It might be for some families, and that’s OK. You know best about what your child is able to handle at that time in their lives.

If it’s not, and you opt to go forward with the playdate, it could be a perfect springboard for discussion with your child. Educate your kids in an age-appropriate way. Play the “What If” scenario game. Even if your family has guns, even if your kid has taken a gun safety class and knows exactly how they’d react if they found a loaded weapon, there’s still the rogue element of the OTHER kid(s) in the scenario.

If a fellow parent gets angry or embarrassed over questions about your child’s safety, you might want to really consider if that’s a place you want your child to play.

As parents, we can all agree gun safety is of the utmost importance, especially when there are kids in the house. Whatever your personal views or politics.

So – what’s worked for you? If you have tips to share about Making the Ask, or kids and gun safety, leave us a comment below. Be sure to read our comment policy if you have questions.

Reading List

American Academy of Pediatrics Gun Violence Policy Recommendations
Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program
Childrens & Guns: the Hidden Toll, New York Times
Guns Within Reach on


View Comments (14)
  • I remember as a kid my dad had me watch Eddy Eagle tapes about fun safety. I’ll never forget the song ” stop! Don’t touch! Leave the area, tell an adult” lol. I had my husband watch it recently because he grew up in a home with guns. It will be interesting when we get to that stage of our boys lives. I honestly don’t know how if feel about my kid playing in a house where a gun was present but I’m not.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this article! Now that school has started my kids are making new friends and they all want playdates…I worry about guns in other homes and I wonder if parents are concerned about having their children come to my home. By sharing this article with the HSV/Madison community you have eased some of that tension and reminded us what is at stake. Thank you!

    • Thanks Laura – that’s a great point. New friends and new houses = new opportunities to talk about issues. And not only gun safety either…

  • Gun safety should never be a political or otherwise contentious issue. No responsible gun owner would take offense at such an inquiry.

    • Thanks Bo. I agree that’s something we can all be in agreement on. Agreement all around! 🙂

  • It does bother me that this issue gets so much attention, but car crashes and drownings kill more children than guns, but those issues are overlooked. I am one of only a handful of parents who still requires my 2nd grader to ride in a booster, and he will do so until he passes the 5 Step Test for a regular seat belt. Many parents don’t ask about pool and water ditch safety in homes and neighborhoods either. It doesn’t make sense to check for guns in a house when you drove there with a child in an improperly fitted seatbelt if preventing accidental death is the main concern. I’m not criticizing asking about guns, but the inconsistencies I see because the car ride is more likely to result in a child dying.

  • Maybe if the other family does indeed have guns in the house asking them how they talk to their kids about gun safety is a good way to not put them on the defensive. That way you can ask them to tell your child the same thing and it brings the issue back to the fore font of their minds in regard to their own children. If you feel uncormfortable about their answer, then you have another decision to make.

    • That’s a really good idea, Jennifer! Asking in a way that minimizes defensiveness can make it easier to have a good conversation. Thanks for sharing!

  • We are gun owners and any time a new child is coming to my house I tell the parents that we own guns, show them our gun safe, and tell them we teach our kids gun safety. I’ve never had a parent say they were uncomfortable and they are always pleased that I brought up the topic.

  • You should never feel bad about asking. I caught my then-6 year-old playing with matches once. Those matches were kept in the same drawer I keep my pistol, in my bedroom he knows he is not allowed to enter, with a door that is nearly always locked. Fortunately, I have always properly secured my firearm in a safe, even when it seemed completely redundant. The matches are in the safe too now. Feel free to use my story if something thinks their kid is too disciplined to get into their stuff.

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